Following a weekend, or maybe it was a midweek adventure, CJ and I took the northern route home heading through Oklahoma in search of rural attractions. Oklahoma is full of them. I don’t know if you would find Bessie to be your vacation destination but it sure is a sweet little town to pass through. Unfortunately our time was limited as you can see in the picture below. The sun had already kissed the day goodbye and hours yearned for passing as we made our way home. I have no clue why we stopped here because Bessie sits about a half mile off the main route, US Hwy 183. Grain elevators tower over. I don’t even recall stopping here for a bathroom break.
This picture was taken October 2015. Most of my updates on this blog have one thing in common, railroad. Many of these little towns in rural areas were brought up along the rail. So was Bessie. With somewhere between 150-200 people, agriculture is the principal resource of the community.
In the image below, there is a wall to the right of the building: Bessie School, 1916. Was this the original school building? I’m having difficulty finding information about the building. Perhaps you know. Tell us in the comments below.
Paging back through pictures I took over the last decade, I often return to those I took when traveling to Illinois on the back roads of back roads. Roads with names and towns with a stirring history. I’ve written about Picher before in this blog sometime ago. I’m not sure when but it’s far back in this old blog.
This image below of the Picher Mining Museum was shot July 26, 2011. I was headed from Texas to Illinois and wanted to go to Baxter Springs, KS to shoot some Route 66 landmarks. There are easier and quicker ways to get to Galena, but I hadn’t been on this road before, this road that passes through Picher. In fact, I randomly exited the Will Rogers Turnpike at Miami. Maybe it was lunch time. I don’t remember. I did have a baby in my car and I expect it was necessary to get out and stretch, make necessary changes. As I drove north, the landscape was pretty much the same but suddenly changed when I found mounds of what appeared to be sand. I had no idea what was ahead at the time. And there empty and abandoned structures sat along the road.
I slowed and took a few shots of outside. No one was around and I parked in middle of road, got out took some snaps and was overcome by a feeling of vacancy. After driving around what I discovered was an ghost town, I found the Picher Mining Museum.
In previous post, I didn’t do much research on the museum. It was simply a picture and drive-by documentation. However, much time has passed and being curious, I did some googling. Back in 2007 The Joplin Globe published and article,
“Buyout closing Picher’s museum; Baxter Springs new home for history of mining field.”
Relieved that the collection was moved to Pittsburg State University and Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum, I was saddened to learn that in April of 2015 and arsonist destroyed the former Picher Museum.
I don’t make trips as before to Illinois or through any part of this country so I can’t say I’ll be driving again through Baxter Springs, Galena, or Joplin. Now that Covid is better controlled I may make another trip to Illinois and take the scenic route once again to see what’s left. But I did go back through there a few years later and bull dozers were leveling much of what was left.
If you are from Picher area, or have any stories of the area, please share in the comments below.
If you look at the image long enough you’ll discover what town this corner drug store is located. I’ve been there a dozen or so times passing through but have not stopped long enough to explore.
An advantage of the 2020 pandemic is or was fewer cars on the road because many people were and have been staying home. It was prevalent in the early weeks of the pandemic and one could take a drive during the week day or perhaps a Saturday afternoon and experience very little traffic. That is the case in this image. It was a hot afternoon in this Oklahoma town. Many of the stores and shops in Madill had closed for the day if they had opened at all. This intersection is busy almost always since it is the crossing of 1st and Main downtown. The town square is just a hop and a jump behind this picture taker.
Throughout this blog, and this is an old blog with many images taken from my car, I’ve shot images from the front seat. The pandemic now allows me a bit more freedom to move around and sometimes to quickly get out of the car in the street and shoot a picture with no one in sight.
This black and white image was shot with a 590 nm filter and post processes using PS and channel mixer. I then decided I preferred a more nostalgic look and changed it to monochrome.
If you’ve been following my blog for the past week you will notice the courthouses. You can’t miss them on the routes situated neatly downtown or on the town square with a trio of flags blowing in the breeze and neat gardens in bloom. No matter what day of the week it is, there seems to be a vehicle in the parking lot.
There’s a story about the granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments in front of this courthouse. How often does one find such scriptures on the government property? Not enough! It got moved from the lawn in front of the courthouse in May 2010 to the ground next door about 75 yards according to news reports of the American Legion.
If you drive far enough north on the 377 you will find yourself in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. We were driving south however from the Ada area headed home taking, as we always do, the back road. Driving along the 69 is such a hassle since it is one of the main thouroghfares through the state particularly on the east side. And state troopers are out everywhere especially holiday weekends. With that, the roads we spent time driving on were two lane most of the way but look what you find!
The roads along this route on the 377/99 are rather amusing. Blue Church Road on the west side, Seeley Church Road on the east side. Buzzard Road, Tower Road, New York Road, Devils Den Road. I like random names like this. And yes, we did see churches along the way. What we did not see was them filled up that Sunday evening although I did argue that it may have been the time of evening; 5 p.m. 6 p.m., etc. that people gather. Regardless, people should be in church. We should be stuck in rush hour traffic in those small towns on a Sunday night.
Much of this blog is a collection of pictures I have taken across the rural Southwest. In addition, fragments of my quirky life are written with photos and stories of my cats, my kid, my horse, my thoughts, and plenty of lists.
I welcome your comments, ideas, suggestions, and admission of guilt. Thanks for stopping by.