Posted by: patwogan | February 28, 2009

LeHunt

There were a lot of little communities around Independence, Kansas.  One of the most interesting was LeHunt.  LeHunt was a ghost town and information about it can be found in Ghost Towns of Kansas.  It was located about six miles northwest of our farm and was a destination for Boy Scout Troops from Independence for day hikes.

I think as a child I took LeHunt for granted, but as I grew older, I realized that here was history at my fingertips (or should I say my feet).  My Dad had lived on the farm most of his life and his parents before him had lived there through several generations.  Consequently, he knew the history of the area and was a wonderful teacher who loved to share the stories.

LeHunt owed its existence to a cement plant.  It was definitely a company town.  The availability of natural gas deposits in the area provided fuel needed for the manufacturing process. It was  located on a landmark called Table Mound which was made of limestone deposits and provided the raw material for cement.  The main machinery of the plant was dismantled during the war to be used as scrap metal so there were only the skeletons of that part left.  There was a huge (you could easily walk inside it) smokestack, a very large warehouse area with only the concrete walls left standing, and a tunnel containing a narrow railroad track leading from the top of the mound down to the former manufacturing area. 

At one end of the warehouses there were several stacks of cement which bore the marks of the cloth bags in which they used to be contained.  The bags had all rotted away, but the imprint was left on the cement.  The warehouse had trees growing up inside of it , a testimony to the fact that nature will reclaim abandoned man made structures in the end.

There were sidewalks running through what had been the town part of the area and along the south end an abandoned inter-urban track (without the metal rails as they had been taken for the war effort) which along with the nearby railroad must have provided transportation for the people of the town as well as the shipping of the cement.  I remember one large concrete building which Dad said was the office.  At one time it had a large safe, but in later visits to the site, that was gone. 

Probably the most fascinating structure in LeHunt was a large wall probably twenty or thirty feet high.  It was somewhat free standing and had the name,”BOAZ”  or “BOARZ” carved into it.  Above the name was a wheelbarrow sticking out of the wall with a crossed pick and shovel.  This was a monument to a man who was killed in an accident when the wall was being poured.  He fell into the concrete and they were unable to recover his body, hence, the memorial.  No OSHA back then and no rescue teams available. 

At the top of the mound was the remains of the clubhouse used by the executives of the company.  It had burned down at some time.   I don’t know whether it was before or after it ceased being used.  The only thing left of it was the foundation and a large fireplace at one end.  The view from the top was magnificent and well worth the climb up the remains of a concrete stairway. 

When I previously said that the metal from the manufacturing process was dismantled for the war effort, I am not sure whether it was the first or second world war.  If I remember correctly, the cement plant ceased operation in the early nineteen hundreds and was a victim of both the depletion of the natural gas supply and the fact that the location of the plant made the transportation costs too high to compete with other cement plants in the area. 

The area is now closed for the most part, as it is owned by a private company who quarries the limestone out of the side of the hill.  The graveyard is still open and is a fascinating place to visit for those who love the history of the past written in stone.  The school, a large cement structure has been closed for many years due to consolidation and the population decline.  It was purchased and made into a home as were many of the old country schools, including Peebler. 

I think LeHunt had a great deal to do with my love of history as Dad always made it so interesting and let me know that history isn’t just words in a book, but stories of real people who lived in interesting places.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. That’s great. I remember the wall and wheelbarrow but had no idea of the other remains.
    Talk more what you have learned in your graveyard travels over the years. Had me worried since there was nothing for a while.
    Thanks for getting back into it.

  2. I loved going to LeHunt! You’re right, it was neat to listen to Grandpa’s stories. I was so fascinated by those bags!

  3. I totally forgot about LeHunt – I don’t think we went a whole lot when I was little, but I remember bits and pieces. I am sure I didn’t appreciate it back then.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: