Thursday, January 26, 2012

--ghost town surprise--

It was a fairly warm January morning in Kansas. I was on the road and came to an intersection of two State highways and much to my surprise there was a flagman making me wait. We don't usually see road construction this time of year but they were fixing something up ahead and I was getting tired of waiting. I stared ahead of me even though I had wanted to turn right. A quick check of my map showed the county paved road ahead of me could be taken as a detour so off I went to parts unknown. I enjoyed the new scenery past some nice farms that looked well cared for and after a few miles the road took a turn to the east and crossed a bridge into a small ghost town. Right away I saw not one but two old gas stations which are my favorite so I pulled over for a chance to take some photos. 
Further down the road I could hear someone talking and he was standing there watching me. That's not unusual when I am taking photos but this guy came walking towards me and was moving quickly. Still I paid him no mind while I took more photos including this station that looked like a general store-gas station combo.

Soon the guy in the road had caught up to me. I told him I like to take photos of old gas stations and ghost towns and he held out his hand to introduce himself. By now we had been standing in the road for a few minutes and I said, "I guess there is not much traffic today" to which he replied "oh, no one EVER comes to our town". I smiled and said, "well, they don't know what they are missing then."
I would guess my new friend "Jack" to be about 19-20 years old. And in spite of his long unwashed hair and unkempt appearance he did a friendly attitude and followed along as I took more photos. 
I would guess this building was a former post office in it's earlier life and perhaps a cafe or bar in more recent years but seemed empty now.
And I loved this old store building with meeting room above for the "Independent Order of Odd Fellows" which was a big deal a hundred years ago or so. But sadly, it looked abandoned too. In fact there were no businesses open in this town and only a handful of homes that might be lived in. It sits very low and I would guess that flooding drove the settlers away time and again until they gave up and moved on.

And then there was an old feed store across the street or road from there. This town did not have a grain elevator or mill that is common in this part of the world. Also I found it odd that there were no churches in town. That is very unusual indeed.

Along about this time my new friend "Jack" (not his real name) told me there was another old gas station up the road a ways on the edge of town and told me to follow him. He took off on foot and I drove along in the truck to see what he wanted to show me.
It was to be a pleasant surprise. A real primitive, turn of the century or at least 1910's gas station sitting back in some brushy  tree saplings. Wow! Jackpot for me...I loved it.

Hard to believe this has survived in the harsh winds, floods, grass fires, and etc. I would guess this was the town's first station which quickly became obsolete and was replaced by the newer ones I had photographed. It had pressed tin ceilings inside and out.

Certainly one of the oldest surviving stations in KS and I was happy to see it. Sadly it was time to get back on the road and continue on my day's journey. Jack told me to come back sometime and he would show me some more places of interest and I said I would.
Fast forward to sometime later I was coming back that way in an afternoon and once again took the road less traveled that led me back to the same ghost town. I drove past the home where Jack lived without stopping and turned on a side street and stopped on a hill to take photos of the old schoolhouse that looks like a home now...

I am really not sure if the metal building was an addition by the homeowner's or if it was a post war gymnasium for the school perhaps...
Only a few minutes went by when along came my old friend Jack walking up the road. He had seen me go by and remembered me. I guess it get's lonely living in a ghost town and he was glad to show me around again.
I was interested in this old blacksmith-welding shop. I would guess alot of repair work for farmers was done here in this large shop. Like most everything else in town it was abandoned.
Then we saw this old house. Nothing special I guess but I wanted to look at it and think about the family that must have left it behind....
And then Jack showed me the old hotel...and it was a good one. Hard to imagine a wooden structure in a flood town that is still standing.
It was hard to imagine why such a small town would even need a hotel. No railroad has ever gone thru here. Was it ever busy? Was it prosperous? What was it's name? I don't yet know. Here are some more views of the hotel taken in shady afternoon conditions...

Behind the hotel were some old cars which captured my attention...
First up was a 1954 half ton Chevy pickup truck.
Then I saw this old Pontiac coupe. Perhaps a 1941 model and not too bad condition I guess.

And behind it was a very rough 1948 or so Chevy sedan delivery that time and weather had not been kind to. I wondered to myself who had bought this car new and what had they delivered with it. Maybe because I am a delivery driver myself but it was fun to ponder...

I really enjoy spending my free time searching for ghost towns and taking photos to preserve history when I can. I was glad Jack showed me around again. He told me he doesn't have a job since getting out of school and spends his time watching tv. He has a medical condition that prevents him from driving. He enjoyed having a visitor to show around. We shook hands and I bid him farewell once again.
And that my friends concludes this journey to another mysterious ghost town in Kansas. I hope you enjoyed coming along on the roads less traveled for a look at vanishing Americana. Let's do it again sometime....

1 comment:

  1. Come on, Paul....hurry up and do some traveling so you can post another adventure....I need a *fix* of your wonderful discoveries!