Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Most Depressing Town in Kansas

I went out today, just driving around. I considered it my farewell drive so I wanted to make it something really special. I went to Michigan Valley, a really small town that I actually don't mind. I like the name although the town is definitely one of those "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" types. The whole point of my drive was to go to two ghost towns, one in Lyon County and the other in Wabaunsee. The one in Lyon County was full of cool relics and was a haunting vestige of what could've been.

I've been to a lot of small towns and all of them have what I call a soul. Something in that town that the community rallies around and can call their own. Some towns have a school or a church, other towns, extremely lucky towns, still have a thriving downtown district. Bushong seemed to have none of these. There was a church but it seems to look slightly abandoned. There's no school anymore, the children are bussed to other schools. All that stands is the exposed shell of the Bushong Consolidated School constructed in the 1920s. Main Street consists of three abandoned stores (a grocery, an auto shop and the shell of a former bank and gas station), the rest have burned down. There are multitudes of abandoned and dilapidated houses and trailers and when I was there, no fewer than four dogs were just roaming the town.

The town was depressing. It was as if fate was just rubbing the dismal futures of all the population into their faces. I'm sure it's nice living there--commuting the many, many miles to Emporia, Council Grove and possibly Alma; making sure trespassers and local children don't shatter every window in town with a rock; walking by the abandoned shells of their former glory. I found Bushong very impressive and someday I'm going to go back and see what's still standing and what's not. And get a picture of their cemetery.

Here are the pictures from Bushong I took.

This is a picture of a couple abandoned buildings in Michigan Valley. Even Michigan Valley, which is unincorporated and barely mentioned anywhere seems to have more civic pride than Bushong. But Michigan Valley is near Pomona Lake and two churches.

This is the former gas station in Bushong, now just a shell. The building apparently used to be a bank and was used as a bank, a gas station and a tavern along with other things since it's construction.

This is Bushong's massive Consolidated School built in the early 1920s, the school hasn't been used in decades and sits alone on 4th Street, open to the elements.

The Bushong Church that I couldn't determine if it was still in use or not. It still look like it could be used but from the way the paint is peeling and the way the roof looks, it could be recently abandoned.

Here are the abandoned stores in Bushong. The one in the foreground I think was once a small grocery store while the one is the background is an old automotive garage. You can still see the sign that reads "Garage" on the building. These two buildings are still pretty well preserved.

This article edited August 21, 2009 at 6:59AM.
This article was rebranded and edited August 28, 2009 at 11:30AM