Sunday, May 24, 2009

Classic places found in small towns

The route from Roxbury in McPherson County along U.S. 56 into Marion County took us in and out of the lush pastures of the Smoky Hills and Flint Hills, through the very neat town of Tampa, and to Lost Springs. It's always nice to come across a small town when driving many back roads miles. The diversion they provide is always so interesting and varied.

There are many Santa Fe Trail references along U.S. 56. This granite marker was several miles west of Lost Springs and deserved some out-of-the-car attention. There was a sign across the road from the marker telling the history of Lost Springs. Another sign said "Santa Fe Trail ruts." WenDee walked into the pasture to feel the ghosts of wagon trains long gone.

Even though I miss the old Al's in the little white building with the sagging floors, it's great to see that the long-time Mexican restaurant is still open and doing well, even in a metal building. The food is as good as ever. The wall colors are bright so it's appealing inside. It was good to see that the old stools and counter made it into the new building. It's open Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Vines are growing on the walls of a former church. The "Lost" is almost lost on the top of what was maybe a mechanic garage. Parts of brown bricks formed the town name against the red bricks of the building.

The post office was a beauty. Inside and out. Classic. If you need stamps, either go to Lost Springs or order by mail. Surely the post office in this town of 71 is struggling to make the revenue needed to convince the federal system to keep it open. They could use our business.

Just down the road is the unincorporated town of Burdick. I've always loved the optimism they show in their city limit sign.

To come across these enclaves of homes and a few businesses is always a delight -- even if the towns have shrunk from their heights of prosperity. After all, this isn't a contest but a continual challenge to make due and be the best they can be at this time period. There are lots of stories, no doubt, about the closed doors as well as the open ones. Do some visiting in Lost Springs and Burdick and it will help you "Get Kansas."

KE #2 Marci Penner

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