It is fitting that no single person or family can be credited with the founding of Fontana. Instead it was a coalition families and churches just like it is today. Citizens have worked hard to ensure the town’s heritage has been preserved during the last two centuries. The small downtown retains the beautiful architecture and character of the 1800s. The original Fontana Bank and Fontana Jail still stand, and a former one room schoolhouse has been renovated to become Fontana City Hall.
Built in 1874, the New Lancaster General Store was formerly a farmers’ co-op and meeting hall where locals could trade for goods while getting the latest news from Topeka. About 145 years later, while much of both buildings have remained the same, the store now offers local products including wine. Kristin and Stephen Graue of Middle Creek Winery worked tirelessly to restore the co-op and meeting hall to their former glories. The spot now known is now on the National Historic Register. It offers wine tastings and slushies in addition to an art gallery and retail store that highlights work from local crafters.
For those who love wine but don’t want to leave the kids at home, Isinglass Estate is a nearby 30-acre vineyard and tasting room. Parents can sample carefully crafted wines from the comfort of a shaded patio while the kids go for a pony ride, munch on a flatbread pizza or play a giant game of Connect Four. Visitors can follow the trails at the estate to explore the 600 acres of vines, forests, lakes and fields.
A drive to the Fontana Pines Christmas Tree Farm has become an annual tradition for many families. Fontana Pines includes a wide selection of 5-foot to 10-foot Scotch pines, Austrian pines and Fraser firs along with handmade wreaths and garlands. The farm allows visitors to pick out and cut down their own tree. For those who are feeling rugged, they can carry the tree back to the register. Staff members are also in hand to haul the tree back with their all-terrain vehicle. The selected tree is then trimmed and loaded onto the customer’s vehicle. While a tree is being prepped, visitors can warm themselves with hot cider provided by Louisburg Cider Mill.
Railroad in Fontana
Fontana Welcome Sign
Fontana Fire Station
Fontana City Hall
The Miami State Fishing Lake attracts many visitors for its well-stocked 101-acre fishing lake and booming white-tailed deer population. Eagle-eyed birders can spot loggerhead shrikes, grebes, great blue herons and even the occasional pileated woodpecker at the park. Primitive campgrounds and docks are available. The lake is operated by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
In the heart of town is the Fontana City Park. The park’s picnic tables and playground are the perfect place to spend a sunny day, while its shelter house is a great venue for casual events.
The Fontana Fire Station Park is another example of how Fontana is keeping their history alive. Park visitors can see and touch an antique fire pump well, something firefighters relied on before the creation of fire hydrants.
In the spirit of midwestern hospitality, the United Methodist Church opens their doors to the public during the November Festival. Visitors are provided with the culinary equivalent of a hug -- a full plate of warm apple dumplings and chicken noodles.
You don’t need to be from Fontana to come to the Fontana Community Picnic. This celebration is open to anyone who likes hotdogs, live music and waterslides.
The Fontana Fire Station hosts an Open House to mark Fire Prevention Month. Families and children of all ages can tour the building, enjoy lunch with local fire and rescue crews and get their face painted. Kids are encouraged to explore the station's rescue boats, life-flight helicopter, fire trucks and ambulances. Those who stick around will get to see a demonstration of the “jaws of life” in action. The station’s hope is that they can teach children the seriousness of fire prevention and being prepared for an emergency in a fun and friendly environment.