Frozen in time: Dinosaur World

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On a recent trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, we came across a fascinating find — a former amusement park frozen in time. A sign still points to the park roadside. Once you get there, however, it’s evident that the park is long-closed.

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Roaming…forever

The park, which opened in the 1960s, was once the largest dinosaur-themed park in the United States. It once covered 65 acres and had 100 live-sized dinosaurs. It was also known as John Agar’s Land of Kong and Farewell’s Dinosaur Park.

According to a post on http://www.abandonedar.com/,  “The sculptures were created by Emmet Sullivan, who also designed the dinosaur statues in Dinosaur Park and Wall Drug in South Dakota, and the Christ of the Ozarks statue in nearby Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Two local men, A. C. McBride and Orvis Parker handled the actual construction of the dinosaurs.

“Along with the nearby Beaver Dam, a few of the park’s dinosaurs are featured briefly during the opening scenes of the 1969 horror movie ‘It’s Alive!’. The tyrannosaurus is featured in the 2005 film Elizabethtown and is shown on the film’s cover.”

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Former foot bridge 

The park sadly closed in 2005 and is now owned by an adjacent resort. We tried to gain access to the park, but the resort owner is an attorney and doesn’t allow anyone on the grounds anymore. Sadly, like so many abandoned structures, the park has fallen victim to vandalism. The former gift shop was burned to the ground in 2011, likely due to arson.

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Still looking fierce!

Today a few of the dinosaurs can be viewed from the road, which is where I obtained these pictures. (I did not enter the property, rather used a telephoto lens roadside). I did witness a few people hop the fence and walk into the park. Sadly, people who do this ruin access for the rest of us. Private property means one thing: stay out unless you have permission.

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Through the trees

With that said, please enjoy the photos. It was so amazing happening upon this!

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Dinosaur eggs!

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Taking the plunge again

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerWell folks, it’s that time again where fingers fly, words splatter across the screen and hours are spent dreaming, creating and writing.

It’s almost National Novel Writing Month! Each year people all across the globe take a daunting challenge: write a 50,000-word novel in one month. I’ve done this twice before and next month I’ve decided to take this challenge on again. I’m so excited!

The energy during the month is amazing as other writers take on the challenge. We forego housework, social engagements and probably a lot of adulting in general during this month.

There will be late nights, lots of writing and lots of saying no to extra things during the month of November, but the reward is sweet!

As for my blog, I’ll be rolling out the first of a few travel adventures I took this past week and will continue to keep them coming for you despite this new challenge!

To any of my fellow writers, lets do this!!

An unexpected find: ICT Pop-Up Urban Park

wpid-img_20151017_215743.jpgSaturday night mom and I were driving in downtown Wichita looking at the cityscape when we drove by something unexpected that I had no idea existed and it was a true thing of beauty.

The ICT Pop-Up Urban Park, which is located at 121 E. Douglas, was formerly a hole in the ground Wichita called “the hole.”  According to an article by twpid-img_20151017_224333.jpghe Wichita Eagle, the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. held a grand opening for the park earlier this year. The park replaced a construction hole that was at the location between Market and Main.

The park, funded by the Knight Foundation, is a little gem for sure. It includes tables, chairs, planters, art pieces and Christmas-light type lighting. Some of the tables are large wooden spowpid-img_20151017_224452.jpgols. The Wichita Eagle article stated food trucks provide good eats during the week.

But what really intrigued me was the ping pong table and it is complete with paddles and plastic balls!wpid-img_20151017_220009.jpg

So, at 10 at night — in the string-lit park, mom and I decided to play. And we decided we suck at ping pong, but it provided some good laughs.

I am so intrigued by this park that I can’t wait to return to practice ping pong again and take some more great shots.

Simple, breathtaking beauty

12063385_428237064047205_8564471604112973876_nThis morning I was on my way to work and I was struck by a beauty so simple and so ordinary for our Kansas town. Our local grain elevator, Bunge, was surrounded by grain trucks waiting to drop off their load of precious grain.

I kept driving for a second, but was just struck by the scene, so I went back. I needed a photo.

It was hard finding a good vantage point since the grain elevator is right off a road that isn’t exactly easy to stop on, so I stopped on a nearby side street to grab the s12074843_428237080713870_3911829038915214424_nhot. Thank goodness for a parking lot off of a building right across the street.

When I was taking the photos, I could hear the hum of the elevator and the trucks idling, steam coming the trucks in the cool, crisp fall air. The photos were truly worth going back and taking.

The above photos embodies not only Kansas, but the product of the hard work our farmers put in year-round to provide products for our nation. These farmers and ranchers work tirelessly — and at great monetary risk — each season. They are at the mercy of the weather every year. You can’t predict what the weather will be like from year to year.

To illustrate how important farming and ranching is to our community, I found this information: according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, “agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas, valued at more than $62 billion, accounting for 43 percent of the state’s total economy. There are 46,137,295 acres of land. Farmland accounts for 88.9 percent of all Kansas land. More than 21 million acres in Kansas is harvested for crops and over 16 million is pastureland for grazing animals. Kansas farmers and ranchers are feeding the world. In 2012, Kansas exported nearly $4.9 billion in agricultural products. The top five exports include wheat, beef and veal, soybeans, feeds and fodders, and corn.”

I am proud to be a part of this community I call home and this community full of so many hard-working people.

So, part of your food supply — and these photos — are brought to you by Kansas farmers.

Paranormal 101 with Girl Scouts

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Photo by Linda Clarke

Earlier this month I had the privilege of co-leading a workshop for area Girl Scouts. The workshop, Paranormal 101, was taught with another member of the Kansas Paranormal Research Society, Linda Clarke.

We had 10 young ladies from 6th to 12th grade and one adult come to the workshop at The Gazette. The Gazette has accumulated many tales throughout the years of possible paranormal activity from apparitions to footsteps and everything in between. The building has been host to a few paranormal investigations and has been a part of a haunted tour the past couple of years.

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This was the entire group following the investigation.

So, the Gazette was a perfect place to hold the workshop.

First, I was very impressed at the maturity, curiosity and intelligence of these young ladies. They came in with enthusiasm, open minds and with a strong desire to learn. The day opened up with introductions, followed by training on equipment they’d be using during the investigation.

After a quick tour of the building, the real fun began — the investigation of the basement of The Gazette. The Girl Scouts were able to use equipment such a EMF meters, EVP recorders and dousing rods.

wpid-20151010_134913.jpgWe spent a couple of hours in the dark with flashlights, waiting for activity. Activity ranged from possible responses through dousing rods, meters going off, and a clothespin moving after we had left the room. There also was a door on a cabinet that possibly opened, but we weren’t 100 percent sure it was closed when we were down there.

In my life I’m blessed with a wide variety of experiences, this being another one of those.  I enjoyed this workshop immensely and hope to do it again soon.

Thank you Girl Scouts of the Kansas Heartland for letting me host.

Day of Kansas ‘ghost towns’

Today was Adventure Day — a day to explore “ghost towns” right in my own backyard. In one day we managed to visit several towns: Cedar Point, Clements, Elmdale, Diamond Creek and Dunlap.

It was a glorious fall day today. The leaves are starting to turn and the cool fall air coupled with abundant sunshine made for a perfect day for exploration.

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Cedar Point mill

The first place on the list to visit was Cedar Point, Kansas. Cedar Point, according to the 2010 Census, had a population of 28. It is located in Chase County and was founded in 1862. The 1880 Census listed a total of 113 people. That total rose to 190 in 1920, declining from there until its current number.

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Imagine the conversations that took place in this area. Cedar Point, Kansas.

Today, very few residents remain. It does have a bank and a post office and the mill still stands.

The next stop from Cedar Point was Clements, most know today for the Clements Stone Arch Bridge, which was completed in 1887. The bridge today is only open to foot traffic. A restoration effort is underway. Clements also is located in Chase County and was originally known as Crawsfordsville. It was renamed Clements in 1884. The town did have a post office, but it was closed in 1988.

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Clements Stone Arch Bridge

Today, only a few buildings in town remain in Clements.

The third stop of the day was Elmdale. This one also is in Chase County. The 2010 Census had over 50 people listed as living in Elmdale.

The first Post Office was opened in Elmdale in 1873. It was moved from a now extinct town called Middle Creek. Elmdale was officially incorporated in 1904.

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Bummie’s Elmdale

According to Census history, Elmdale was once home to 246 people in 1930. Population began a rapid decline in the 1940s and dropped to under 100 people starting in the late 1980s.

I wrote an article on Bummie’s. The business officially closed in 2013.

The next stop on today’s tour was Diamond Springs. This one was much harder to find and is located in Morris County. The town once was a stop for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

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Diamond Springs Cemetery

Diamond Springs has an interesting history. It once had a two-story hotel and a large lot for livestock, according to this article. The town was attacked by a gang of Confederates in 1863, essentially destroying it. Following the Civil War, the town was re-established by settlers from Illinois. Seven families purchased land near the original site of Diamond Springs and established a school and a church. In 1887 the Diamond Springs Town Company was organized and filed for 38 blocks.  The town experienced growth when it became a railroad community, however, it never grew as other railroad communities did. It only had 27 residents in 1910 and the post office closed in the 1930s.

Today, the only sign of the town sites’ existence is a cemetery we stumbled upon.

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Many homes have been reclaimed by nature in Dunlap.

The last stop of the day was Dunlap, which also is in Morris County and comes with interesting history as well. The 2010 Census listed Dunlap as having 30 residents.  Having driven through it today, I estimate it’s far less than that.

Dunlap’s peak population was over 400

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Dunlap

people in the late 1800s. It began to decline in the early 1900s, sharply declining in the 1940s-60s.

In 1883, according to the History of Kansas by A.T. Andreas, the town had three stores, a grist and a sawmill. The town was named after Joseph Dunlap, the founder of the town and the first white settler in the Valley Township. Also according to the Andreas in 1883: “colored people form a large percent of the population.”

“Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave, incorporated the Singleton Dunlap Farm Colony and brought 200 Black settlers to the Dunlap area in May 1878,” according to this article. “Dunlap boasted a blacksmith shop, hardware store, grocery store, ice cream parlor, flour mill, butter and cheese factory, restaurant and the Guaranty State Bank among other businesses.

Dunlap’s Post Office closed in 1988. Today it’s a mere ghost town of what it used to be — mainly empty lots.

It was a day of true adventure! Can’t wait to explore more of Kansas’ lost towns.

For all the photos I took go to The Wandering Pigeon’s Facebook page.

Other sources: Wikipedia and the U.S. Census