A former central Kansas plantation that was once the largest shipping point for fruit between the Missouri River and California is scheduled to be auctioned off.
The 130-acre Yaggy Plantation, which today is mostly grassland and irrigated cropland near Nickerson, will be auctioned off at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Oct. 5. The land once grew up to 50,000 apple trees and a million catalpa trees, which were used for fence posts and railroad ties, The Hutchinson News reported. It employed up to 300 people the during harvest season. The descendants of the plantation's founder, Levi Walter Yaggy, are selling about 1,260 acres, which will be offered in five tracts and combinations.
Christopher Krantz and his two siblings, Chandler and Eric, whose grandparents once lived on the acreage, now live out of state.
"As much as we love this magnificent property, it is hard to see how we can continue to make the time to enjoy and take care of it while adhering to the same high standards that ancestors held," Christopher Krantz said.
The family's connection to the land began in 1884, when Levi Yaggy, a well-known publisher in the U.S., bought a 1,350-acre ranch and planted the catalpa and apple trees. In those years, timber was in strong demand for rail lines and fencing and Yaggy provided a reliable and renewable timber source.
The catalpa grew six years before it was ready to harvest, but the tree would regrow after its first cutting, Christopher Krantz said.
Levi Yaggy's son, Edward, guided the plantation into the national produce market and a nearby town, also called Yaggy, became the largest shipping point for fruit between the Missouri River and California, the News reported.
In the 1930s, drought took out most of the trees and the family didn't replant them, instead turning the land into a cattle ranch and wheat production. Two plantation homes remain on the property. It also includes Conservation Reserve Program acreage along the Arkansas River, which provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.
The property also has three irrigation pivots with approved permits to install two more.
Christopher Krantz recalled visiting his grandparents, cousins and friends at the plantation every year. He said he and his siblings value the legacy of their ancestors.
"We all have fond memories - hunting deer sheds, exploring the river and learning how to shoot and commiserating on how hard Prairie Dunes really is," he said. "And having to share that with our own children has been valuable for us."