Thursday, May 28, 2009

Three Days, Three Counties Explored

During the Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to take "Dare to do Dirt" loops around three counties in southwest Kansas - Seward County, Stevens County, and the southern half of Haskell County.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the entire trip was getting to watch a UP train cross over the mighty Samson bridge over the Cimmaron River alongside US-54 just northeast of Liberal. This truss bridge, completed in 1939 was an engineering marvel of it's time. I was able to capture video and photos of a train crossing this bridge as well as numerous photos of the bridge itself. See the photo gallery links below.

Another regular component of my rural travels is visiting as many rural cemeteries as I can. Cemeteries give the traveler information about ethnicity of the people in the area, surname information and much more. I find cemeteries fascinating - so much so that I have visited at least 450 cemeteries in Kansas in the past 3 years. I visited 16 cemeteries total in these three counties ranging from the main county/township cemeteries to remote pioneer cemeteries. One interesting find was these unique wagon wheel markers in Dermot Cemetery in far northwest Stevens County.

These three counties are within the High Plains physiographic region of Kansas and have alternating patches of irrigated cropland with pasture land covered with grasses, yucca and other bushes. I found many area in the pasture land awash in yellow and orange wildflowers, including the orange Indian Blanket Flower. The terrain is sometimes broken by dry riverbed valleys, notably the Cimmaron River.
I encourage everyone to try getting off the paved roads once in a while, and explore some dirt or gravel roads. You will certainly see more of Rural Kansas!

My photo galleries:

1 comment:

Frank Thompson, KE #3128 said...

By necessity, not choice, I've spent a lot of time in Seward County in past years and have found it generally less interesting and photogenic than most of the state. The mighty Samson bridge is amazing, though, and some of the rugged desert-like areas such as you have shown are interesting to see. Keep daring to do dirt, Larry!