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.

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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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

Missouri State Pen

wpid-20150815_215557.jpgThis weekend I had the opportunity to live a dream — an overnight paranormal investigation of a decommissioned prison.wpid-20150815_230151.jpg

I went with a group to Missouri State Penitentiary, in Jefferson City, Mo., which was originally opened in 1836 and decommissioned in 2004. It was once the largest prison in the United States and held 5,200 inmates at its peak, according to their website. Known as the “bloodiest 47 acres in America,” this trip was a trip of a lifetime.wpid-20150816_033615.jpg

The prison held men and women, criminally insane and general population. It carried out executions through a gas chamber, which we had the opportunity to tour, and also one person was executed via lethal injection.


Death row cells included a slab bed.

“A former Union General, the first train robber, 1930s gangsters, world champion athletes and the assassin that killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. all came through the gates of the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) as inmates,” according to the website. To read more about infamous inmates go here.


Rows and rows of cells. Imagine the noise when this was in operation.

Being in those halls, in those cells, at night, was an incredible experience. I was struck by how much echo carries through the halls and imagined how loud it must have been in “A Hall” with several floors of inmates, two (or more) to a cell.

The feeling from cell to cell varied. In one cell I’d feel nothing. The next, sadness and anger. It’s amazing how energy sticks around long after the physical being is gone.


Gas chamber

The entire experience was incredible and I hope to go back soon!


Some inmates got to paint their cells in “A Hall.”

Birthday wanderings

In true Wandering Pigeon style, I got lost for my birthday. What an incredible day it was.


No food left to serve. REALLY cool building though!

First, one of my passions is photographing old and abandoned things. Especially buildings, and my birthday road trip didn’t disappoint. It provided some surprises along the way too.

Osage City provided my first photographic opportunity. But they weren’t selling slushes that day. 😦 The new Sonic is across town. But, I didn’t want a slush by then…


The next stop was Osawatomie. I hadn’t been there in a while, and I love driving past the grounds of the state hospital. First, let me tell you if you don’t come in on the major highway, the hospital is not easy to find. After driving around town for quite a while (no, I did not ask for directions), finally we found it…the signs are right on the highway!

The first thing you spot when driving near campus is this huge 11666224_10152869854677035_7320978375395732835_nabandoned structure. The building is beautiful so we drove on campus to get some quick shots. Sure enough, we were spotted and not allowed to stay long. But we got a few pretty cool shots. Would have loved to see the inside of the building, but, of course, that wasn’t possible.

11667427_10152869857382035_4644211741100903781_nOn the way back out of town to our next destination we stopped at a memorial. There are only numbers on the headstones: no names. A faceless cemetery. It’s a very somber, sad place. Each and every stone represents a person — someone who lived and someone who died. I find it a tragedy that we don’t even know their names.11698395_10152869853517035_5001088201834398_n

The next stop on the map was Rantoul, which I honestly didn’t even know existed until this trip. Again, another charming place with a few abandoned structures to photograph. But the real gold mine of this place wasn’t in town, it was outside of town. We were driving and I looked off to the right. I had to do a double-take — there was a field and it was full of jets. Just a random pasture full of planes. We looked to the left and there was a company. The company, called Dodson International Parts, also has a salvage yard full of planes.

11665687_10152869862762035_7393019342610639299_nThe next stop on the list was Neosho Falls. Neosho Falls, located in Woodson County, was founded in 1857, according to Wikipedia. According to the 2010 census, the town has 141 people. The town was once the county seat, but today is mostly abandoned. Entire streets are deserted with e11709611_10152869864792035_3562376862052619439_nmpty lots replacing what was once a block full of homes.

As a newspaper person, I was interested to learn this: “The first newspaper in the county was the Frontier Democrat, which was
started in October, 1869 by Isaac Boyle, who published the paper 11698694_10152869861012035_3849727224818170149_nat Neosho Falls until January, 1870, when it was sold to William H. Slavens, who changed the name to the Neosho Falls Advertiser.” See entire article here.

I got some great pictures in Neosho Falls, especially of the high school, which, according to the article sourced above, closed in 1961.

So, I spent my birthday in wandering bliss! Many more wanderings to co11707528_10152869865072035_5041031833055878670_nme!

I’ll end with one final house: this one actually has a “for sale” sign on it. For $2,500 you can own it! Oh and air conditioning, compliments of nature, is free! (The house to the right is not in Neosho Falls).

Wamego, a Kansas gem

11393165_10152808061142035_2274784311559592635_nLove it or hate it (and no, this isn’t a political post) — Kansas is a pretty unique place. Who else can claim the famed Oz with Dorothy and Toto? And who else, but Wamego, can claim a fitting museum — the Oz Museum? There isn’t another state in the United States that can claim the Yellow Brick Road.1044646_10152808063437035_7622902764699579528_n

As I’ve found out, people have a love-hate relationship with Dorothy and her little adventure in Oz. While I get as tired as the next Kansan of hearing the cliche, somewhat seeming obligatory comments about Toto, Saturday night I got a pretty cool perspective on the Oz Museum and the little gem that is Wamego.

11423844_10152808063537035_5488339561783989443_nI was on a paranormal investigation with the Kansas Paranormal Research Society. The public event, which was held in Wamego, was centered around the paranormal and not only provided a bit of paranormal research, but an up-close look at places like the Columbian Theatre and the Oz Museum.

22801_10152808061247035_4155289911968300425_nOf course, since photography is my passion, I had a blast taking photos of the characters at night in the Oz Museum. It was a rare treat to photograph them in that lighting, which was just my flashlight. See for yourself with the photos I’ve included with this post.

The event was awesome and raised funds for the Columbian, which is a true gem as well. 11256842_10152808063652035_3315436456674229851_n

I feel so blessed in this life to have so many adventures — all right here in my backyard in Kansas. Kansas is a unique, wonderful state.


The Emerald City lives up to its name: DK 200

11150780_10152786796657035_4409166335429778041_n I’ve long called Emporia my Emerald City. A term I starting using for Emporia one day as I came up one of the final hills northbound on the Kansas Turnpike at dusk.  I’ve always loved Emporia and the way it shimmers in the distance a few miles outside of town reminds of the Emerald City.

Saturday, during the Dirty Kanza 200 event, Emporia lived up to that nickname I’ve given it. 1,500 riders took part in the race, in which riders took to the gravel (or mud in many cases) in 50, 100 and 200-mile treks, depending on which race the rider participated in.

11222593_10152786784772035_8220371576524952684_nSaturday was the first time I’ve been at both the starting and finish lines and saw the event through from start to finish. I not only had the opportunity to see the riders leave and come back from the rides, but I also had the honor of updating their progress throughout the day for the paper.

It was an incredible experience. There was so much electricity in the air between the riders’ energy and the excitement of the spectators throughout the day. The riders out there on Saturday endured so much from mud to flooded streams due to recent  heavy and flooding rains.

As we lined up at the finish line to greet the riders as they returned, exhausted and covered in mud, the excitement was contagious. It was an honor to be able to work that day and update their progress and help spread the excitement through the web and social media.11295542_10152786789772035_8906268928378154530_n

We live in a pretty special community here. Truly, an emerald city in so many ways. Saturday was just one of the many reasons why I love this community.

Goodbye Joyland


Disclaimer: All the photos were taken legally — I never entered the park.

It is so sad to see that the demolition of former amusement park, Joyland, is in full swing.

For those of you who don’t know what Joyland is: Joyland Amusement Park was an amusement park in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It was in continuous operation for 55 years, from June 12, 1949 to 2004, closing permanently in 2006.[1] It was once the largest theme park in central Kansas and featured a wooden roller coaster and 24 other rides.

Source: wikipedia. See the entire post here.wpid-img_20150425_182327.jpg

I remember Joyland so well growing up. Oh and that wooden roller coaster was legendary! Joyland was indeed a place full of joy. I’m sad that it’s being torn down, but understand it brought so much joy to people and is truly at the end of its life cycle.

I’m equally sad vandals broke in, set fire to many of the buildings and other vandalized them. The lack of respect is astonishing. Shame on anyone who does that.

wpid-20150425_182015.jpgGoodbye Joyland, you will live in my heart forever and in the hearts of so many others.

Joyland Wichita, KS

Disclaimer: All photos were obtained legally, without trespassing from a public right of way. 

Saturday I visited a childhood haunt in Wichita, Ks. From Wikipedia: Joyland Amusement Park is a former amusement park in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It was in continuous operation for 55 years, from June 12, 1949, to 2004.[citation needed] The park was once the largest theme park in centralKansas and featured a wooden roller coaster and 24 other rides. Today, the site is closed. See the entire entry here.

Today, the park is in shambles and in the process of being torn down. Below are a few of my shots.