Mine Creek Battlefield

On my way to the small town of Pleasanton, Kansas, this past weekend, I found myself at anotIMG_1285her Kansas gem. Having lived in Kansas my entire life, I have never been to Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site.

First, I’ll talk about Plesanton. The City of Pleasanton was founded in 1869, according to their website after General Alfred Pleasonton, the victorious Union General at the Battle of Mine Creek. Th
e city is built in and around the battlefield site.

“It is considered by many to be the only major Civil War battlefield in Kansas! From there, our community flourished as it took advantage of the then bustling railroad trade.  Soon, churches were founded, a school was built, stores began to open up on Main Street, and the City of Pleasanton began to grow,” according to the city’s website, referenced in an above link.IMG_1291

According to the 2010 census, the city has about 1,200 residents. And if you’re looking for some good food while you’re there I highly recommend MeeMaw’s Country Kitchen. I got biscuits and gravy and a pancake and the food is the REAL DEAL. I love food and their food alone was worth the nearly two-hour drive!

Now on to the Mine Creek Battlefield site. The Kansas Historical Society’s website states: “On Oct. 25, 1864, on the banks of Mine Creek, two Union brigades of approximately 2,500 troops defeated approximately 7,000 Confederates from General Sterling Price’s Army of Missouri. Federal Colonels Frederic
k W. Benteen and John H. Philips led the attack in one of the largest cavalry battles of the Civil War and a major battle fought in Kansas. Their dramatic story comes alive at Mine Creek Civil War Battlefield.”IMG_1209

The site today includes a nice visitor’s center (which was closed the day I went) and a walking trail where you can read about the battle. The walking trail spans 2.6 miles. The site is quiet, educational and a great way to learn about the Civil War and nature. It’s worth a Kansas road trip for sure!

 

 

The Little Melvern Caboose

12961232_10153358390977035_7246945173445784745_oIf you have a train enthusiast in your life, Melvern, Kansas, is the place to be. Off the main street in Melvern, is located on Kansas 31 highway four miles north of Interstate 35 (exit 160) and three miles east of US 75.

The caboose is located in Melvern Railroad Park,  where you’ll also find the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Pratt Truss Bridge, which  was built in 1909 to carry vehicular traffic over the hand dug cut.

In 2013, the caboose was donated to the Railroad Park by a Topeka couple, Gary and Marcia Ross. Melvern searched for 10 years for a caboose to add to their park. According to an article by the Osage County Herald-Chronicle, a member of the Melvern PRIDE Committee,Larry Salisbury, 12909681_10153358394162035_3562522592804361503_o spotted the caboose off of Interstate 70, west of Topeka. The committee approached the couple and were informed they would donate it to the park.

The caboose was built in 1979 and valued at $10,000. It was moved to Melvern on Oct. 2 . Relocation and installation work was donated by Criqui Construction, of Melvern.12916365_10153358394442035_6956673272270481471_o

The caboose sits next to a platform that was built for people to view the trains going by — a fitting addition to the park.

Inside the caboose are a few chairs, a sink and a refrigerator. Writing on the walls still give instructions the former crew had to adhere to: “nothing should be put in toilet other than human waste and toilet paper” and “use crushed or cubed ice only” to keep things cold in the refrigerator. The crank on the paper towel holder still turns.

A quick history lesson: the use of cabooses goes back to the 1830s when railroads housed trainmen in shanties built onto boxcars or flatcars, according to an article on the Union Pacific’s website.  According to the article: “the caboose served several functions, one of which was as an office for the conductor. A printed “waybill” followed every freight car from its origin to destination, and the conductor kept the paperwork in the caboose. The caboose also carried a brakeman and a flagman. In the days before automatic air brakes, the engineer signaled the caboose with his whistle when he wanted to slow down or stop.”

Today cabooses have been largely replaced by technology, automatic air brakes, which took away the need for manual brakes. “End of Train” devices are installed today to monitor whether the end of the train is moving.12898245_10153358392477035_7119969790147409268_o

It’s places like Melvern’s Railroad Park that keeps the cabooses alive. Melvern’s little caboose transforms visitors to the days when it still traveled the rails and the rhythm of the train can almost still be felt as it glided down the track.  Melvern is a small town with lots to offer in addition to the train including a cafe, a skateboard park and a nice playground which includes facilities.

So, if you’re a train lover, this is the small town to swing into and spend a few moments. Here is a link to the city’s website, where you can also find information about the community and all it has to offer.

 

 

St. Aloysius Church Historic Site

Another road-side gem in Kansas is the St. Aloysius Church Historic Site in unincorporated community of Greenbush, Kansas. To get there go to the website below and follow the map. It’s a 20151025_134922fantastic photo opportunity!

According to the Kansas Travel website, a church and church ruins are side by side. “The 1887 St. Aloysius Church was replaced by a larger building in 1907, but the 20151025_135140newer building was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1982 and the congregation returned to the older building. The registered Kansas state historic site is very picturesque,” the website stated.

Here is the entire text of the legend of Greenbush, which was borrowed from the website mentioned above:

THE LEGEND OF GREENBUSHAccording to legend, in 1869, Father Phillip Colleton, was caught at this site by a furious hail and thunder-
storm. The frightened priest took refuge under his
saddle and vowed t20151025_135140hat if his life was spared, he would build a church on this spot. The fervent promise resulted in the establishment of St. Aloysius, Greenbush. The
first Catholic Church erected in Crawford County was
a wooden frame structure completed in 1871. Located on the Historic “Mission Road”. The church was destroyed by a storm in 1877. Parishioners quarried limestone from Hickory Creek and completed the second church in 1881. The first resident pastor, Father F. M. Verdan, arrived in 1882 and served the church for fifty years. A larger church was needed and completed in 1907. The 1881 church was converted into a community building. The third church stood for 75 years as a landmark before it was struck by lightning and burned in 1982. The ruins remain. The 1881 church was 20151025_134749renovated into a place of worship. Thus the second church became the fourth church on March 9, 1986 and served the people until it closed in 1993. Father Colleton’s promise will continue.

Registered state historic site – February 26, 1994.
Erected by the St. Aloysius Historical Society and Kansas Department of Transportation

Abandoned Kansas: Camptown Greyhound Park

20151025_132339The dogs no longer run at an abandoned track in Frontenac, Kansas. The track, formerly known as Camptown Greyhound Park, wasn’t open very long. Some reported it closed after just 13 weeks of operation, while other sources reported it closed after six months of operation. It reportedly re-opened in 2000 after its 1995 failure. It again closed after another failed attempt.

Today, the massive building and track sits abandoned and rotting. There were rumblings it would be turned into a casino, according to an article by the Capital-Journal. Howev20151025_132313er, the property still sits abandoned.

Camptown was opened in 1995, at a price tag of $14 million. Its operators filed for bankruptcy in 1996, according to the Joplin Globe. According to Greyhound Network News the track was losing $30,000 a week before it was closed. When the track closed there were 12 kennels with about 60 dogs.

20151025_132318“On Nov. 17 (1996), the racing commission issued “Final Orders,” a five-page document containing 32 provisions which included requirements that the track’s owner provide food, water, bedding, and an overflow kennel for greyhounds designated for adoption. Within weeks, 186 greyhounds had been moved into the adoption holding kennel.”

The rescue operation was successful.

The Capital-Journal reported the following: “Two of the original investors bought it for $3 million in 1998, then sold it in 2000 to developer Phil Ruffin, who owns the Wichita Greyhound Park and several casinos.

“Ruffin walked away from the deal because of a disagreement with the state over the investment required to open it and the percentage of return on that investment.”

Today, no activity at the property is apparent. Another property frozen in time.

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.

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

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.

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