Chase County Kansas

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." In this encore presentation, a chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

On March 20, 1978, William Least Heat-Moon left Columbia, Missouri in a Ford van. The van, which he named Ghost Dancing, would be his home for the next three months.

He was 38 years old. His marriage was falling apart. He'd lost his teaching job due to staffing cutbacks. His decision to get behind the wheel in search of America's stories was part dream, part desperation.

Now that the van is a literary artifact, he has to visit it in a museum. And he's careful not to get behind the wheel. Sitting back in that driver's seat makes him misty eyed.

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." A chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Miguel Vieira / Flickr - CC

During the 20th year of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, outside of Strong City, Kansas, a new documentary explores how the park was created and is sustained. Then, we learn about the life of Forrest "Phog" Allen, who amassed 590 wins in 39 seasons coaching the KU men's basketball team.

Two years of extreme drought. The failure of Congress to pass the Farm Bill. Life hasn't gotten any easier for cattle rancher Howard Blender.

In this edition of 90-Mile View, Howard gives Steve Kraske an update on conditions in Chase County as he and others struggle with the effects of too little rain from Mother Nature and too little support from legislators.

"It is history, travel, anthropology, geography, journalism, confession, memoir, natural history and autobiography. It is the life and times of Chase County, and incidentally everything you need to know about Kansas."  So wrote Paul Theroux in his New York Times review of PrairyErth (A Deep Map) when it was published in 1991.