Thursday, July 23, 2009

#199: Progress Takes Away...

I'm reading John Steinbeck's East of Eden for about the five or sixth time now. It's my favorite book and Steinbeck is my favorite. I love reading the book because in my opinion it's the closest thing to the Great American Novel (although I know that privilege goes to dozens of other books). Every time I read it, I come across something new. I have a lot of favorite books (some you can see on my profile and in my Facebook) but I think there are a lot of books out there that are wonderful even if they are not my favorite.

I took a trip down south the Baldwin the other day. The state is building a new highway between Lawrence and Ottawa and the construction has entered Douglas County. Just about every house on the east side of the highway has been demolished, an old schoolhouse which has stood since about 1925 was finally torn down, the Zarco gas station has been torn down and the Baldwin Junction--which was a halfway point between Ottawa and Lawrence about five miles west of Baldwin, is now just a pasture of dirt and bulldozers. One of my friends had a house right along the highway and it was one of the first houses demolished for the construction. I know the construction is worse as you get closer to Franklin County because the highway is almost completed there.

I went to Baldwin to take some pictures of the Prairie City townsite, the John Baldwin Mill site, the Santa Fe Trail Park and the Harmony Schoolhouse. I arrived to discover that the John Baldwin Mill site sign had been taken down so there was really no point to take the picture. I was upset that the sign was gone. The redwood sign was one of 17 redwood signs erected to mark various historic locations around Baldwin. Today, only eight remain. I began trying to get pictures of the signs after the Blacksmith Shop sign was knocked down and the Prairie City sign was knocked down during a storm.

I know things change and that they have to change but all the change I saw today was a bit too much. I just wanted to come home, sit down and read. Here are some pictures of the signs and other things around Baldwin.

This is the best picture of the Pleasant Grove School that I have. As you can see the building looked like it would've caved in at any moment anyway. I was shocked they let it stand like that for as long as they did.

This is the Santa Fe Well located along Washington Street in Baldwin. The well was dug in the 1850s and still give water to this day. The wall and roof were added in the 1960s during a restoration project.

This sign marks the southern border of the former town of Palmyra. This sign remains despite all the construction that has surrounded it for the last twenty years.

This old sign marks the Dow Cemetery where Charles Dow, victim of the first murder in Kansas, was buried before being moved to Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 people were buried here. During a project in 1939-40, only three stones were found; in 1987, none.

These are the posts to the Blacksmith Shop sign. The sign marked the location of one of three blacksmith shops in Palmyra.

Until next time, I remain...