Main Street Cafe, Durham KS

Recently, Harland received assignment to photograph a cafe in the small town of Durham, KS. So Thursday afternoon after I got off work, we made the three and a half hour drive and stayed that night at a cabin on Lake McPherson arriving about 9:30pm.

We unloaded all our stuff and Harland turned on the water in the bathroom to brush his teeth. It ran for about 30 seconds, and then stopped.

“I hope you weren’t wanting to take a shower tonight,” he said.

We tried the kitchen faucet and the shower – nothing. The water supply was a well out back powered by a pump, so Harland flipped all the breakers. Nothing. So he called the maintenance guy. This was about 10pm. He told Harland to flip all the breakers again, which didn’t work – again. So the maintenance guy said he would send a plumber out in the morning. Meanwhile, we had no water of any kind, even to brush our teeth. So Harland drove to Canton, a 10 mile drive, to a convenience store and picked up some water. By the time he got back I was in bed having brushed my teeth using the dry method and spitting a lot afterwards.

Next morning, Harland heated some of the bottled water to shave with, and I heated some to wash my face. We put on extra deodorant and then we were off to the Main St. Cafe in Durham, a few miles away. Durham is a typical small midwest town that saw its heyday years ago.

Main Street, Durham

Today, its population is about 100, and all that’s left is a post office,

grain elevator, automotive repair shop with a resident cat in the window,

senior center,

and a cafe that serves breakfast and lunch.

On Fridays, they also serve a buffet dinner: drink, salad bar, main dish and sides bar, and pie bar. The big draw is the 15 different varieties of homemade pie, and that’s what Harland was there to photograph. Friday morning is when the ladies at the cafe make the pies, so we arrived about 9am to watch. Harland said I could also take pictures to share with you.  Yay!

When we got there, one of the kitchen ladies was putting meringue on the cream pies.

Each pie gets about 4 whipped egg whites. Once the meringue is spread over a pie, she deftly made beautiful peaks all over,

sprinkled the top with coconut (this was a coconut cream pie)

and popped it in the oven, removing when golden brown.

Meanwhile, fruit pies baked in another oven and we watched as they were removed

and put on racks to cool. After a couple hours Harland had all the shots he needed of pie baking and we left, planning to return that evening.

We got a call from the cabin maintenance guy saying that the water problem had been fixed, so we headed back to the cabin for a shower and a nap. We hadn’t slept well the night before, and were tuckered out.

Later, we headed back to the cafe to see the pies cut and laid out on the buffet table.

And of course, when we were done we put our cameras down and got in line for the buffet. After a hearty supper, we made our way to the pie table. Harland had the sour cream raisin and on the first bite entered pie bliss-land. I had to shake him to bring him back down to earth. I had the chocolate-peanut butter which melted in my mouth…creamy deliciousnous.

We waddled back to our truck, and drove back to our cabin for the night.


——-> UP NEXT:  See how peppernuts, tiny little cookies, are made.



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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23 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Gorgeous pies! Wish I had been there–for the pies, not the no water overnight stay.

  2. Pam K. says:

    Oh my, it might be worth driving from my home in Nebraska just to have a piece of those pies in Durham!

  3. Nancy says:

    Oh my mercy! How did you ever pick just one kind of pie? Sounds like a wonderful trip…well except for the water part. Love your adventures!

  4. Thanks for showing us around Durham! The pies look delicious!

  5. Vivian says:

    The pies look wonderful! I like that brick building with the colorful tile awnings. It’s really interesting. Do you know what it is/was?

  6. Debbie says:

    Mmmmm…..I think I would take the chocolate peanut butter pie too! Yum!
    Thanks for the tour of Durham! I hope they don’t lose their post office with the cuts!

  7. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    Oh, my DH would be in heaven with all those pies!! They do look scrumptious!!

  8. Jill Brax says:

    That coconut cream pie was definitely a work of art. What a fun assignment!

  9. Patty says:

    Thank you for tucking us in your hip pocket and taking us with you. I am really enjoying all the plaxes you both go and show us.Living in Kansas for 30 years, but never going anywhere, thanks for showing us Kansas.

  10. Doe of Mi. says:

    Oh my the merinque is absolutely beautiful and all the pies look so scrumpious. How was the main dinner? Interesting little town almost like a story of the old west. And the brick building w/the colors sounds like a mystery place~! Love your post.

    • Suzanne says:

      The main dinner was delicious too: chicken, sausage, brisket, rolls, biscuits, salad bar. It was hard to leave room for the pie!
      Thanks Doe!

  11. Tina says:

    Ohy my gosh, I so want pie right now. And to live in a small town. Anyone have a recipe for the sour cream raisin one? It just sounds so interesting. I love your trips. Keep them coming…and keep a gallon of water in your trunk-just in case.

  12. Melanie says:

    Oh, I was hoping you would report that they had an authentic German buffet. They used to have one in Hillsboro every Saturday night. We would occasionally go there when we visited my parents. .but they are no longer!! Too bad!! We do usually stop at one of the grocery stores there and bring home as many packages of the authentic German sausage as we can carry!! I’m sure that is what was on your buffet. .and is SOOOO good!! It may be worth a trip there just to sample the pies though!! Too bad I didn’t know about before I spent last weekend at my parents house 🙂 My luck!!

  13. Janet says:

    What kind of pie is that–the one above the coconut pie? Is that chocolate or raisins? Curiosity is killing me! That’s the most beautiful meringue ever, I’m going to make a lemon pie and try it out 😀

    • Suzanne says:

      Sour Cream Raisin….I’m going to have to find a recipe for that one and make it too. Harland swooned when he tried that one.

  14. Becky L says:

    The photos are great and thanks for sharing the yummy pies. Yum it would be hard to choose which one to eat. I’d eat the homemade coconut cream pie. YUM! Homemade pies are the best! Sounds like you had a good time!

  15. Louise S says:

    Oh my Lordy, those pies are to die for, and of course, the first one up was the coconut cream, MY FAVORITE! LOL Those ladies know how to make a good-looking pie, that’s for sure. I’m originally from Kansas (Hiawatha) but am not familiar with the whereabouts of Durham. Hope you got a discount on your room for that first night with no water, lol.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks Louise, and we did get a refund for the first night in the cabin.

      Durham is down in McPherson county. As the crow flies, it is roughly halfway between Strong City and Salina.

      • Jordan says:

        Actually, Durham is in Marion County.(I live there) It is on Kansas highway 15 south of Abilene about 30 miles.

  16. DebbieB says:

    Love your photos of the lady spreading the meringue on the pies. What an artist! They look absolutely scrumptious and what a charming little town. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Merle Hostetler says:

    What company makes the machine you use to make the peppernuts?

  18. Jeanie says:

    Just saw this article via a link from pin on Pinterest! Great article and photos! I live just 6 miles from Durham, so I or someone from our family eats at Main Street Cafe in Durham at least once a week. Not great when losing weight is a goal!!! Hard to find anything prepared there that isn’t delicious. The cinnamon rolls & the pies (Hershey Almond) are my personal favorite!

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