Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weskan, Kansas

Way out in western Kansa is the little village of Weskan.  It was a town built by the railroad that grew into a nice little farming community.  Like so many of these little towns, their business care is pretty well gone.

Downtown still hosts the Post Office and a variety of other stores, now mostly out of business.  There are also the vacant lots of where once used to be other shops and stores. 
Like so many little towns on the prairie, the grain elevator dominates the skyline.  Here one can wander along a watch the ghosts of other days hustle along the sidewalks, stopping in stores, doing their shopping.  There is a coffee shop out on the highway.  One can get a good country meal and listen to the buzzed conversation of farm country. 

The empty gas station provides a place to park, stop in have some coffee, pass the time of day.  Life in the small towns operates at a different pace then the big city do. 
Found a book number of years ago  about growing up in the Weskan area.  A daughter had her mother’s diary and made it into a book.  Her parents had settled in the area in the 1900’s and mom’s diary chronicled their early life of making a living on the hi-plains.  There were the blizzards, storms, insects, dry spells and other critters to deal with.  There were the moments of joy, birth, get together and there the sad moments, death, sickness and accidents.
The land was not easy to domesticate and many did not succeed.  The empty building in the area reveal the story of failings or fleeing the harness of the land.  Yet the few that remain have a very unique life that few understand. 

The Interstate made a north turn and changed how people lived.  Traffic diminished to almost nothing on the highway.  The motel and gas stations no longer had travelers to serve.  Soon these thriving places were empty shells, breathing of life of ghosts.  Today it is the high speed freeway that carries the cars in a rush to go somewhere.  Little spots like this are ignored.  For the few that pause, there are surprises.

Out on the edge of town are some great displays of old farm machinery, equipment and tractors.  The farmer has lined up his old stuff in nice rows and in silence they sit, reminders of other times. 
The old red brick school house still stands, a classic building and there are neat well kept homes. 
To the north is the Smoky Hill River, this is where the Stagecoaches rolled and the wagons to gold rush traveled.  When the railroad showed up, this early pioneer trail moved south to follow the RR grade.  Nearby had been the Texas/Montana cattle trail, Lonesome Dove fame,
There had been massive herds of buffalo that roamed the area and the Indians that chased them.  Pause on a clear day, listen to the whispers echoing over the land.
Walking around town taking pictures, I got a few stares.  Strangers, get the look in small towns and for the most part, I smile at them and go on. 

It is the small towns like this that I look for, not a classic ghost town but a town that has some character.  The prairie is dotted with them and I have many more miles to travel searching for these places.  
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