Flag flies at the Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden

Field review by the editors.

Lucas, Kansas

The Garden of Eden must have been in the USA.

America is, after all, God's most beautiful place on Earth, and if two Old Testament goofballs really had enraged an all-powerful deity, there's no way He'd gently push them out of Paradise. No sir! He'd rear back and drop kick them halfway around the world to some desperate desert land where you have to hit rocks just to get water. Which, of course, is what He did.

Thus the Garden of Eden is here, in a small prairie town in central Kansas, on a quiet residential street. A concrete Adam and Eve greet you; Eve offers an Apple of Friendship. Above them on tall concrete pillars are the Devil, frolicking concrete children, and two love storks. To the left, high in the air, an all-seeing concrete eye watches over the Garden.

Biblical scenes mingle with political messages. In the back yard, Labor is crucified while a banker, lawyer, preacher, and doctor nod approvingly. On one pillar, an octopus representing monopolies and trusts grabs at the world. A soldier and a child are trapped in two of its tentacles. Fear not.

Eve and the apple.

On the "Goddess of Liberty" tree, Ms. Liberty drives a spear through the head of another trust octopus, as free citizens cut off the limb where it clings.

The creator of this ivy-covered concrete and limestone utopia was pioneer showman Samuel Dinsmoor. Dinsmoor was a patriotic American, lover of freedom, and hater of the conspiratorial trusts. Gripped by severe dementia concretia at age 64, he started building the Garden as a residence in 1905.

His house is made of limestone cut to look like logs; his sculpture garden surrounds it. Having a knack for popular eccentricity (he married his first wife on horseback decades before such stunts became popular), he opened his home as a tourist attraction in 1908, even as his vision of biblical and modern man was being molded out of 113 tons of concrete.

Labor Crucified.
Labor Crucified at the Garden of Eden, Lucas, Kansas.

He continued building and displaying up until his death in 1932, taking time out to marry a 20-year-old in 1924.

Dinsmoor had prepared for the day of his demise (he even sold a trick photo postcard of showing him gazing down on a dead version of himself). He built a 40-foot-high limestone mausoleum in one corner of his garden. When he finally did expire, he was embalmed and put on display. Even after eight decades you can look through his almost hermetically sealed, glass-sided coffin and see the moldering creator of this heavenly splendor.

The Garden of Eden

305 E. 2nd St., Lucas, KS
In town, at the corner of 2nd St. and Kansas Ave.
Daily 10-5; off-season 1-4 (Call to verify)
Adults $7.
RA Rates:
The Best
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September 24, 2016

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