Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Exploring Example in Palmer

Have you ever been to Palmer, Kansas? It's a town of 105 in Washington County. If you have Explorer blood in your veins you'll get a rush just driving into a town you've not been to or heard of before. The only expectation should be to see what it will give you.

Most of the Washington County towns I've been to lately have a sign that gives a brief history about the town. Some simple information helps set the stage. This sign says Palmer was founded in 1882 mostly due to the existence of the railroad.

A town of 105, it has a cafe and a grocery store (not pictured). That's impressive. I'm pretty sure that the grocery store owner shares an order with another town down the road. In fact, he probably owns both stores and does so just to make the $10,000 weekly minimum required by the grocery wholesaler. For a couple of small towns to meet that minimum means there are a good number of loyal shoppers.

What can a small town like this hold for an Explorer? In this case, you can start by buying a few stamps in the post office just so you can visit with the clerk. Do the same in the grocery store and cafe. Hec, maybe get a haircut just so you can visit with the barber! Sometime a conversation will turn up nothing special. Other times you'll learn about a most interesting tidbit or be led to see something that you would have never noticed.

Ask questions about the historic jail. When was the last prisoner released? Who was the most notorious over nighter?

This church is a beauty on the outside but what does it look like inside? Check to see if it's open and go on in. Stained glass windows and the shape of the pews are a few things to look for.

"Do" a town and then repeat the process in another town. After awhile the comparison and contrasts start to become the intrigue. You'll notice that some towns are cohesive, others have internal controversy. Some are hopeful, others negative. Some have cool stuff, others don't know they have anything of worth to see.

You'll also start to learn the meaning of the population. For a town of 105 to have as much going for it as Palmer tells me a whole lot about the town right there.

"Get Kansas" by exploring! See what you will see.

KE #2 Marci Penner


Unknown said...

Love that jail! Good explorer tips.

Joanne said...

Hello Rural Kansas!
You're in inspiration with your Explorer Tourism program. I featured you in a posting on my new rural tourism marketing blog, Can't wait to see what you come up with next!
Joanne Steele

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that just past the railroad tracks, just down the road from the post office (going west)is an empty lot with what looks like an outcropping of rocks. It's actually the remains of what was a storage "cave" for the old Brown Hotel that used to stand on that empty lot. I believe the hotel was torn down in the 60's. If you don't know it's there, you probably wouldn't even notice it. It is very old. I spent many childhood days in Palmer. My grandparents lived right next door to the hotel and often times we would take shelter in the "cave" when tornados threatened as Grandma & Grandpa didn't have a basement. Palmer holds a very special place in my heart. My sisters and brother and I would spend summers there with my grandparents (we lived in MN). Grandma worked at the Cafe and Grandpa sold seed to the farmers and also eggs. His seed station is long gone now as is their house. But the memories will live in my heart forever!!