Sunday, July 29, 2012


On Friday, Mom went back out on the Independence Route of the Oregon Trail and finished practicing to be a tour guide.  She took her camera along again, and now I have some more pictures to show you.  The first place Mom stopped was the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site.  Mom did not tour the house or the museum because (1) she didn't want to take the time, and (2) she will get to do that when she is there on the bus tour.  So mostly Mom just hung out and took a few pictures.

The house is made out of stones, and it was built by James B. and Lucinda Mahaffie in 1865.  It was actually on the Westport Route of the Trails, but it got included in the Independence Route tour because the people on the Westport tour have plenty of other things to see.  The Mahaffies had a contract with the Barlow and Sanderson Stagecoach Line to feed the stagecoach passengers while fresh horses were busy getting hitched up.  Mrs. Mahaffie, her daughters, and hired helpers sometimes served between 50 and 100 meals a day to stage passengers who were traveling between Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth.  The basement of the house was built to be a dining hall, and there was a kitchen down there, too.

J.B. and Lucinda Mahaffie

Anyway, while Mom was standing around, taking some pictures, she was shocked to see a real stagecoach drive out of the stable area.  Some people came out of the museum and got in the coach, and then it drove by.  This stagecoach was pulled by two draft horses, but usually, in the old days, teams of four regular horses were used because they were faster.  Or at least that's what you always see in the movies.

At the Mahaffie farm, the corn is really green and tall, at least in the middle of the field.  This is how the corn is supposed to look at this time of year, but most places it looks all dried up instead.  The Mahaffie people were watering their corn, which Mom could cleverly tell because she saw water shooting up high on the other side of the field.  And that is the reason this corn looked way better than all the other corn she saw on Friday.

The next place Mom went was called Lone Elm Campground.  This was a place where lots of people  stopped to spend their second night on the Trail.  Back in those days, this area was called "the treeless prairie" because of the fact that there weren't any trees, except maybe you could find some by a river or stream.  At this campground, there was just one big old elm tree that might have been 100 years old or something like that.  But finally somebody chopped it down to use for firewood, and after that, the Lone Elm Campground was more like the No Elm Campground.

The newest Lone Elm

Anyway, a few years ago, the City of Olathe, KS which is near the place where Lone Elm Campground was, bought a bunch of farmland so they could make a park.  Part of the park has fields where kids can play soccer and baseball, and then there is also a 40-acre area where the old campground used to be.  And that part has a picnic shelter and some historical markers and a few hiking trails.  They even planted a new lone elm tree there, except that it died, so then they had to plant another one. So far, it is still alive, but it is not very big yet.

Near the shelter house, there are some flowers called Black-eyed Susan.  But if you don't like that name, you can also call them Brown-eyed Susan, Brown Betty, Brown Daisy, Gloriosa Daisy, Golden Jerusalem, Poorland Daisy, Yellow Daisy, Yellow Ox-eye Daisy, or by their scientific name, Rudbeckia hirta.  These flowers are in the aster family, and they are native to most of North America, so that's probably why they have so many names.

After that, Mom went to a place called the Gardner Junction.  This was a very important spot on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe Trails because it was where the Independence Route finally joined up with the Westport Route.  And also, this is where the Santa Fe Trail split off and went south.  At this spot, there is a special little park now, and it has several historical markers, which the people on the tour will be able to get off the bus and go read.

Meanwhile, the Real, Exact Spot where the two routes came together is only maybe a couple of hundred yards away, on somebody's farm.  If you look up this dirt road to the top of the little hill, you will see the Real, Exact Junction, because that's where it was.  Also, you will see a field of dead corn, which is how all the corn really looks everywhere except at the Mahaffie farm.

In fact, if you want to buy 50 acres of dried-up corn for yourself, here's some that is for sale.  You could make fodder out of it, and then plant some corn again next year, and if there is any rain, you might have better luck.  Or maybe you could plant soy beans, since that is a crop that is still green.  At least so far.

Of course, the reason everything is so dried up and dead is because of The Drought, which I told you about in a previous entry.  Mom took a picture of a big crack in the ground, and she put her foot in the picture so that it's easier to see the size of the crack.  Luckily, there aren't any cracks yet that are big enough for a person or dog to fall into, but that could still happen, if we don't get rain pretty soon.

Lanesfield School

Here's a photo of Lanesfield schoolhouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This school cost $1,000 to build in 1869.  The enrollment started out at 69 children, in all different grades.  After a few years, the town of Lanesfield moved two miles away, so it could be closer to the train depot.  This turned the school into a rural school instead of a town school.

Inside the school

Lanesfield School stayed open until 1963, and then it was closed.  But some people wanted to save it as a museum, and that's what they did.  In 1967, it opened up again as part of the Johnson Country Museum.  By 1987, the building was getting really run down, so it was repaired and made to look like it had back in 1904.

The outhouse, which has two seats

Lots of kids in the 4th and 5th grades visit Lanesfield School every year, and they get to find out what it was like being a student in a one-room school back in 1904.  When Mom was there, she didn't go inside the schoolhouse because it wasn't open, but she walked around and looked in the windows.  At least that's more than the bus tour people will do.  They just have to stay on the bus and gawk out the window.  But a lot of those people are old, so they have probably seen a one-room schoolhouse sometime in their lives already.

And finally, here is a marker that the Daughters of the American Revolution put up to show that the Santa Fe Trail went through the town of Lanesfield.  The DAR really likes to put up markers, and you will see these markers at all sorts of historic spots.  Mom could join the DAR if she wanted to, because she has at least one ancestor who fought in the Revolution, but Mom thinks maybe she has enough groups to worry about already!

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