Sunday, March 25, 2012

"The Thrill of the Hunt"

Have you ever heard it's not what you find but the joy you have looking for it? It was to be one of those kind of days as we embarked on a long country drive that included nearly 30 miles of  remote gravel roads thru some very pretty pasture lands in the Flint Hills ranch land area of Kansas. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees as I pulled off the highway on the lonely road less traveled known as Diamond Creek Road. 
Not far up the road I saw an old stone bridge on a side road that crossed Diamond Creek itself. The muddy water was flowing swiftly as the birds sang above and I enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature. As for the bridge itself, I would say it is unusual in that it did not have a level concrete surface. Very primitive but of course that gave it the character to attract my camera in the first place.


I stood on the soft creek bank to get a better shot of the bridge and could feel the earth crumbling away...

I drove past this nice stone wall along a ranch...
Not far away I saw this old barn that appears to be abandoned.
Then it was a few miles of slow driving down the bumpy road until I saw this truly unique modern hay barn with adjustable roof. I was in awe of such an engineering masterpiece built with farm labor most likely, but Mrs. PF was not too impressed and stayed in the car as I took some photos. As I looked it over I could imagine the rancher calling up the neighbors and greeting them with --- "we are gonna have a little barn raising party tonight" can  you come over? 
 How nice it would be to be able to raise or lower the roof based on the amount of hay stored inside to keep blowing rain off the contents and the design was based on simple function....


With a winch at each corner that controlled cables and pulleys to the desired height and then you simply hook a chain in place to hold it there. In other words, it was basically 4 flagpoles with a roof over it--- Very clever....
And now back on the road, and after a few miles of driving we arrived in the ghost town of Hymer, KS which was home to only one abandoned house on an abandoned street or road and a pen full of cattle eating at a bunk on the other side of the road. 
Population of this town is at zero...
I continued onward and after a few more miles of curvy and hilly gravel roads that went past old limestone quarries and huge grassland pastures we arrived at the ghost town of Diamond Springs.....which also seemed to have a population of zero not counting a farm that was not too far away. 
You could see the abandoned railroad right of way and the only structures at this ghost town was a group of old abandoned livestock holding pens that would have been used to round up Texas longhorn steers that would have been driven on horseback up the Chisholm trail from Texas to summer and fatten here on the tallgrass prairie. These steers would be consigned to livestock commission companies to be sold at the Kansas City stockyards after the ride on the rail cars built just to haul cattle. 
I find it quite amazing these holding pens still exists as they are very old.

 and not too far down the old road was a nice old ranch with lots of history I would guess. In fact I would even guess this place was owned by a cattle buyer that would have helped fill those cattle pens back at Diamond Springs perhaps.....
The house was nice too but I didn't get a photo of it since the owner was watching me warily from the front lawn and I didn't take time to go introduce myself and politely explain my interest in their home...
The entrance was impressive and the whole place looked well kept...
 And then after a few more miles of driving thru wide open spaces we finally arrived in the small town of Burdick, KS which is where the road turned to pavement again. I like the old buildings there.



and I assume this was the town's hotel and it still looks like someone could use it but assume it sits empty.

And then I continued driving westward until we reached the small town of Lost Springs which is quickly becoming a ghost town. On the edge of town was a small oil production field that looks obsolete or played out and I paused to photograph this primitive well pulling rig made mostly of wood beams. Basically just a portable winch and pulleys with heavy cables. Move where you need it and raise the boom and pull the oil well pipe and pumps. Cannot be many of these left....

 and then a few more miles west we came upon the former or original townsite of Lost Springs.


I read with interest the part about 200 covered wagons camping in a circle and staying there. I walked to the springs and looked at the clear running water....
And I looked at the road sign that suggested the wagon wheel ruts from 70 years of wagon trains were still visible and hunted for them....
I really wanted to see these ruts.....and I tried hard in vain but sadly gave into reality....either I am blind or the ruts are now a ghost like most of the things I had seen on this day. 
I stood on this virgin prairie of grassland that had never seen a plow and pondered the missing ruts of wagons past.....someday I will find them....I hope.
 In retrospect I decided that you may not always find what you are looking for but as long as you enjoyed hunting for it....you are still a winner.
Thanks for riding along my adventure in this Spring day of March 2012....

3 comments:

  1. It's wonderful to see where you've been and the way that you've recorded your adventures. We'll visit some of the places that you describe and post them on our blog: http://us-cruisers.blogspot.com.
    Bob and Joan

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