Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cimarron Library's tour of Ravanna, Kansas March 22, 2015

Standing amid the ruins of Ravanna, it was hard to imagine the location once was bustling with activity.
Or that children once frequented what remains of the school here, which except for corner pillars that reach toward the sky, is nothing but rubble.
It was my second trip to the sight of what once was one of the county seats of Kansas' 106th county of Garfield.
Yes, a ghost town in a ghost county. 
Yet, thanks to a great program by the Cimarron Library, I ventured here again on March 22, 2015 - along with more than 100 other folks who wanted to learn more and tour a Kansas dead town.
The event, planned by the library's Executive Director Candis Hemel, was a success. Candis sent me an email more than a year ago telling me of her idea and asked if I would be interested in presenting. 
As people poured into the library room for the presentations, she admitted she hadn't planned on a packed house.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kiowa County dead towns: Reeder, Janesville, Brenham

Greensburg resident continues search and digging around several long-dead towns

GREENSBURG - Traveling down a dirt path sandwiched between a wheat field and pasture, Ed Schoenberger abruptly motions to stop the car.

"You're now in downtown Reeder," he says as he steps out of the vehicle - facing the cold wind that whips across the wide-open prairie on this early March day.

But all around him, there is nothing here but farmland and grass. Reeder, once a bustling community where residents dreamed of a railroad, has disappeared.

Underneath the ground, however, the memory of Reeder still exists. Reeder began in 1885 but only lasted a handful of years, with the post office closing in 1891. The railroad never came, and the community eventually died with its remains buried in shallow graves below the prairie grass.

Schoenberger pulls out his metal detector and begins finding century-old trash - largely sardine cans that settlers left behind.

Reeder's tale mirrors countless towns across Kansas, including several in Kiowa County. Schoenberger has been working to preserve those memories through his research and amature archeolgoy.

Meanwhile, Schoenberger is also researching the towns of Janesville, Brenham and others, finding artifacts along the way.
Greensburg resident and historian Ed Schoenberger uses a metal detector to find items at at the townsite of Reeder. 

Sardine cans and fruit cans were common in the 1880s and are often found when metal detecting around townsites.