Friday, July 17, 2015

Exploring Eastern Kansas – Part III

Headed southwest from Ottawa Kansas, we made a couple more exploratory stops off I-35 on the side roads in Franklin County followed by a stop in Coffey County…

After leaving Ottawa and somewhere between that city and the town of Pomona…still in Franklin County Kansas…we passed this old rural schoolhouse with its ‘ancient’ merry-go-round playground apparatus at the left of the photo. (I actually remember a piece of playground equipment much like this from back in my youth!)

Despite my research and the meticulous documentation available from the Franklin County Historical Society, I wasn’t able to identify this school.  I was stunned to see just how many schools…mostly 1 room structures…populated the county before transportation improved, more people moved to the towns and schools were consolidated.  Check out all of the Franklin County schools listed with corresponding old time photos at:  The list contains 99 different schools, most of them of the 1 room variety!

Factoid: In 1919 there were 190,000 one-room schools scattered all around the American countryside. Now there are fewer than 400 still educating our youth.  The remaining one-room schools are concentrated in a few states in the western part of the USA.  Montana has the most with between 85 and 100. Nebraska is second, with roughly 75 one-room schools.

Sometimes my search for Railroad Depots and my research just doesn’t match up!  We headed south from I-35 on Idaho Road looking for the Mildred Kansas railroad depot.  I knew that it had been moved from Allen County but I didn’t know whether it was a freight depot or a freight/passenger combination depot.  We drifted down Idaho Road to Pomona Kansas and the closest thing I could find to an old freight depot was this structure… Wrong!

Incidentally, this little town with a little over 800 residents was founded in about 1869.  It was named for Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit trees.  If I’d researched a little deeper, the name of the town would have triggered my thought process and we would have found the depot I was looking for!

This is the actual former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railway combination depot from Mildred Kansas.  Note the fruit trees… This depot was moved to its current home at the “Pome on the Range Apple Orchard and Winery”.  We remember passing the orchard and winery both going to and coming from our short visit to Pomona…

"Pome on the Range Apple Orchard and Winery" has a website.  Check it out at  They are right off of I-35 on the way to Wichita from Kansas City…

Note to Self: Need to conduct more thorough research! 

It figures of course that we would have no trouble finding this ‘replica’ Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe depot in Williamsburg Kansas.  Williamsburg is even smaller than Pomona with a population of about 395.  I didn’t find out what this faux depot is used for but if I had to guess, it’s a community center. (A correction would be welcomed if appropriate)

For a photo of the 2nd or ‘new’ depot, (built in 1917), that served Williamsburg, just go to

Williamsburg might be small but from what I’ve read, the BBQ is top notch at Guy and Mae’s Tavern at 119 West William Street.  Phone: 785-746-8830.  Check out this article published in Kansas City:  You can also check it out (with some photos) on Facebook.  See  Maybe we can catch it the next time around…

Laurie and I thought that this old wall in downtown Lebo Kansas was very interesting…and very old!  It appears to have been built with stacked stone and then it was plastered over… Check out the roof line with holes where the support beams used to protrude.

Lebo is in Coffey County and the town has a population of about 930 residents.  It was founded back in 1883 with the railroad, farming and coal mining being the primary driver of growth.  The origin of the town’s name is uncertain…but the common belief is that it was named for an early settler, Josiah Leabo.  

The remnants of the old railroad depot may be found somewhere in town.  The town’s website shows photos of it from 1976 and 1989…stating that it was moved from the tracks in the 1990’s and that it’s deteriorated since then.  Neither of my depot search sites listed a depot in Lebo…

This is the main reason we stopped in Lebo… This Victorian ‘spindlework’ Queen Anne cottage was built by Cleo F. Miller for his bride in 1899.  Mr. Miller operated a general store, a lumber yard, a construction company and he served as Mayor, Councilman and Township Trustee.
Cleo Miller lived in this house at the corner of Broadway and Coffey Streets in Lebo until he died in 1967.  In 1913, this home was the first in town to have electricity…and his porch light was an area novelty for some time. 

Many Queen Anne houses have delicate, turned porch supports and spindle work or ornamentation that was actually made in a factory.  Then it would be shipped to the construction site and tacked or glued into place by a local carpenter.  This house earned a “Wow!” from Laurie and me!

Factoid: Did you know that coal mining was once big business in parts of Kansas?  Bituminous coal deposits were widely distributed in eastern Kansas.  Deep mining and surface mining methods were used in at least 20 coal beds but the bulk of the mines were in southeastern Kansas.  Mining peaked during WWI.  Today the only active coal mines in Kansas are located in southern Linn County and they are strip mines.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. The Queen Anne houses are gorgeous Dave!!!

  2. I love these pictures but especially the first one!!
    take care!

  3. And here I thought I'd be reading about a lot of train depots. :-) Interesting post, Dave. The QA house with all the gingerbread is very nice. It is very hot and very humid here today, and a thunderstorm is going full blast now. Good weekendwq