World War II Remnants – The Port of Tillamook Bay

The year was 1942 – World War II raged across Europe and the Pacific, while the United States became united in a state of panic. War planes screamed overhead as the Navy hurriedly built 17 hangars across the nation, with Tillamook Bay in Oregon being home to two of these massive structures. These hangars provided the country with blimp squadrons that would patrol the Pacific, acting as escorts for coastal convoys. Hangar B was constructed over the period of a rough 9 months, with build time lengthened by a harsh winter. Directly after its completion in the spring of 1943, hangar A was amazingly built in only 27 days. Hangar B still stands as one of the largest structures of its kind, at 1,072 feet long, 296 feet wide and 192 feet tall, with incredible doors measuring 120 feet tall and weighing 180 tons each. On August 22, 1992 when a large fire claimed hangar A, all anybody could do was watch as the colossal building burned. Remains of this structure can still be seen looming over the flat farm land, which surrounds it.

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Originally, the port’s 1,600 acres held over 60 buildings, but as of today only 35 are left standing, some rapidly falling into a state of complete disrepair. The Port of Tillamoook Bay was also home to some main blimp squadrons during the war, including squadron ZP-33. This squadron was made up of eight K-class blimps, each holding crews of up to 10 people. While only lightly armed, they served a purpose in patrolling the coast with depth charges, protecting from possible submarine attacks on convoys.

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Tucked away in a forested area, winding pathways lead to 5 separate ammunitions bunkers. In some cases, blast walls were built to help protect from spread of an explosion, in case a bunker holding explosives had been attacked. Years of neglect have welcomed nature in a huge way as walls have become coated in moss and overgrowth. The natural rainforest, which surrounds them, continues to grow rapidly as trees now emerge from their roofs, while massive metal doors become further rusted with each rainfall.

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After Japan’s surrender in 1945, the need for these hangars was dismissed. A few short years later, in 1948, the base was decommissioned and has since become the core of Tillamook County’s industrial sector. During the same year of its decommission a man was sent out on one final job – to move an aircraft into San Diego, California. A chief aviation pilot by the name of Robert W. Smedley was tasked with the assignment to move an SB2C-5 Helldiver. Smedley was to carry the plane north into Astoria, over to Portland and finally down into southern California, only making it to Rockaway Beach before crashing into the forest. Years later, the crash was discovered by a group of loggers, and brought to attention of the museum. Studies have revealed that during the time of this crash, Robert was a married man, with a 7-month-old daughter named Susan Smedley.

One of few remaining documents found was a heartbreaking telegram sent only 11 days prior to the crash. The final words he had ever shared with his wife – “Coming home. Love: Bob.” Much more than a story of an abandoned or crashed aircraft, this contains remnants of a past life, showcasing just how fragile our existence is. At a moment’s notice, everything can crumble to pieces – there’s no telling when or how it’s all going to go.

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The Day The Sky Fell

It was a normal day, not unlike so many others during Ohio’s chilled winter months. The wind blew forcefully, sweeping snow dust across a barren parking lot, resembling somewhat of an urban arctic tundra. The sun was blinding as it reflected brightly from Akron’s snow-coated city streets. Though being the average day as it seemed, there was one thing tucked away from the ordinary, not making a sound. Following the passing of a large white out just hours before, a friend and I decided to check out one of our favorite, somewhat local abandonments – the Rolling Acres Mall.

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As I mentioned, it was no different than most winter days for Ohio, but when you’re paying attention to that which is normally neglected you can find some incredibly surreal scenery. A once lively hub for the community, previously filled with music, laughter, fun and excitement, now sits deteriorating to nothing – what happened to this part of the American dream? They would have never imagined 40 years ago that this could be a possible sight. This space is now regularly occupied only by the crumbling and cracking walls of numerous storefronts, but on this day it became something entirely different, as fantasy became reality.

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Upon entering the abandoned Rolling Acres Mall, I was taken away by the enchanting scene that welcomed me. You could call it a winter wonderland, though I feel that would not be doing it proper justice; it was much more than that. Constantly shifting weight from so much snow after years of neglect had weakened the glass of skylights above, causing ceilings to bust open overhead. It was as if clouds had fallen from the sky, filling this normally dark and desolate destruction with a brand new, much brighter life. The sky had fallen, crushing structures and causing destruction, but left us here to observe its unbelievable beauty as it lay in silence before us. I could breathe the atmosphere and feel as though the whole world around me was empty.

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As a community, we will someday have to explain to future generations that this was once part of a big dream, but that was as far as it ever got; a dream. For some reason we changed our minds, eventually abandoning them for a lifestyle where we find ourselves stuck inside our computer screens, leaving it all behind, with no redirection. And now, reflected in the shattered glass of shop windows are fading memories of a fragile human connection being slowly forgotten, further lost as dirt fogs their reflection. We’re swept away from what grounds us, while we watch as everything we once believed in becomes dissolved by the unforgiving waters of time.

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View my video of this mall here –

Uniroyal – The 50th Birthday of a Massive Tire

So today marks the 50th birthday of the famous Uniroyal tire in Allen Park, Michigan. While many are busy, celebrating such a momentous occasion, I can’t help but shake some images from my head. Things that I have seen inside a former Uniroyal factory will never quite fade from my memories. Don’t get me wrong, the company is amazing as a whole, but you will always have that one bad apple – sometimes a few.

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Uniroyal was founded as The United States Rubber Company in 1892, and not long after in its life, became one of 12 original stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on May 26, 1896. Fast forward nearly 70 years from its birth, and we find that in 1961 a name change was welcomed, creating Uniroyal. For 29 years, Uniroyal would operate with numerous branches – one specifically located on the outskirts of a town in North Eastern Ohio. This location would spend its years between 1961 and 1990 developing “special project” chemicals, poorly disposing of their materials and coming into a bit of a tussle with the city in which it sat. I want it to be known, before further reading, that I am not talking negatively about the company as a whole, but this location seems questionable.

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A financier by the name of Carl C. Icahn had made an attempt in 1985 to takeover the company, but failed when Uniroyal was taken private by management. At this time, Uniroyal was the 5th largest tire company in the United States, but now faced huge debt after the leverage buyout. In an attempt to recover from over 1 billion dollars in debt, the company sold its chemical subsidiary to Avery Inc. for $760 million in May, 1986.

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According to documents from the 1980s through 1990s, city officials were not happy with how Uniroyal was disposing of their chemicals. The company continued to neglect safe disposal, polluting surrounding grounds and lakes – even damaging the health of workers, at times leading to death. The city and Uniroyal eventually came to an agreement that if noted areas were cleaned on very specific terms, none of this would reach the media. Since this location went under in 1990, piles of these documents and chemicals have sat, simply collecting dust.

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In 1991, this corporation was taken over by the French tire maker, Michelin. Some particular locations, including this one, were left to rot. As this building falls apart under weight of shifting elements, everything inside only grows closer and closer to becoming completely lost. It seems that what was discovered inside this now dilapidated building was never meant for the public eye.

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Following the major buy out in 1991, most documents and public record of this company from 1930-1992 were sent to the special collections and archives department at the university of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, but what has been discovered here is entirely different. So much inside these walls will forever remain a mystery to me.

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It’s a Crazy Life

I have to say something that’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to put a lot of things out there, but that is what I’m going to do. I feel it’s something I must do – share stories of life.

Some days ago now, someone who became part of my life for some years has passed away. We weren’t incredibly close, and in fact weren’t even the greatest people to each other for the years we had known each other. I met this girl outside of a punk show in Cleveland, OH when I was 18. We dated for a very short period of time until things quickly went in a negative direction, though we would continue to hang out for years after. A lot would come to happen between both of us, as well as the people we all associated with as a group. Everybody began getting sucked into things that were bad for us, and with some of us, it took control far too heavily, dragging many down into a crazy and awful world. Some have left us forever, and some are still stuck.

I’m sure we hung out more than anybody really knew, and it’s an odd thing to really explain. Half the time we would practically hate each other, but it wasn’t really “hate.” This is where it becomes difficult to explain. We would be shitty people towards each other – me to her, or her to me, though we would always end up hanging out, seeing each other soon after, and acting as if nothing had ever happened. It was a mutual “don’t give a shit” friendship at this point.

A lot happened between us over the course of those years. Things eventually grew worse, and we began to grow further and further apart from even seeing each other like we had. Relationships between friends became bland and full of stress, as all began getting sucked into things that were bad for us. We would spend our afternoons and evenings figuring out how we were going to get by for the night. Things none of us cared to control began dragging each one of us down further and further. Nobody cared to stop anybody. When you’re in that position, nobody cares for anybody the way they truly should. It’s like you’re looking into a book, but only seeing black and white – you’re not actually reading the pages. Everything becomes a blur.

We would end up in dirty rooms, full of thick smoke and nauseating tension. In a place like this, the air feels so heavy, you can’t find motivation or strength to get out of the chair you’ve gotten yourself stuck in. And we saw this as what we wanted to do…this is how we wanted to spend our nights.

I eventually had to make a positive decision between the hundreds of negative ones. I would need to cut almost everybody I was hanging out with from my life. I still saw her on the occasion. We would hang out, sometimes for a few days straight. Interaction between us became even more scattered, and days we hung out became fewer and further between – far less than before.

The last time I saw her was toward the end of 2014, but the last time I talked to her was earlier this year. I can’t say the last conversation we had was very meaningful – I was quite short with her, not wanting to get involved with whatever she wanted. Though there may not have been a ton of interaction between us for the past couple of years, there was more over the course of the last 7 than probably a lot of people really know.

You don’t truly realize things until all they are, are memories. I can’t say I’m heartbroken, but in ways I am sad. It’s like various feelings have been unearthed when I think of everything that had ever happened between us. It makes me realize – even when you don’t think of something, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a collection of memories, good or bad, just buried away somewhere hiding. It was a part of your life – it fits SOMEWHERE. The smallest things can remind you of past experiences with a person. When I look at her death, and think of these memories, I can’t help but feel strange. What’s strange, is that I will never talk to her again, never see her even in public or get a random phone call like I always would. I can’t say that I was sitting around waiting for any of these things, but it’s strange to think that it’s not even a possibility anymore…She’s no longer here.

The last conversation between us, we left off on a negative note. You don’t really think about it this way until something like this happens. Remember to always leave off on a positive note with anyone in your life, no matter how you are feeling towards them.
If she could have turned herself around and away from everything she was doing, things could have been different. It’s really sad how something can take control of people so much in such a dark way, and it’s really sad that she couldn’t change her mind.

Like I said earlier, I can’t say I’m “heartbroken,” but quite sad in some strange ways. Though her and I hadn’t communicated much in a long period of time, it still hits those memories, the good and the bad.

You want to make sure your friend or family member gets the help they need? If you want to be sure, spend as much time as you possibly can with them – do not let them out of your sight if that’s what it means. This is all you can really do. I know we can’t all do that, but if you can and want to, you should. You can beg someone to stop, but they won’t even be able to hear you.

In the end though, it’s ultimately going to come down to them, and they need to make a decision. Sad thing is, most of the time it won’t be a positive one. It’s a crazy and fucked up world.

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This is the last remaining photo I could find of us. A group mirror photo taken at Great Lakes mall.

R.I.P. to Kellie Warner and all others, friends or family, who have been taken far too early from this life.

Shaniko – One of Oregon’s Most Interesting Ghost Towns

View the entire photo gallery for this story here – http://bit.ly/1RALz07

As I crossed over a small hillside, my destination became clear – the once bustling town of Shaniko, Oregon. Stepping from my car, I drew in a breath. A breeze of wind slowly swept past, and I could smell the comforting scent of fresh spring rain from miles away as it fell peacefully to Earth. In the far distance, I watched collected raindrops pouring from the sky like a ghostly curtain hanging from the clouds. Cold rain met a warmer ground and was absorbed into the freeway’s smooth pavement, which stretched for miles across Oregon’s open countryside hills. As surrounding soil drank the rain water, a dark and clouded blue sky hovered overhead, leaving just enough open space between clouds to let an evening sun pass through, painting the town a strongly contrasting bright gold.

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I was taken away the moment I set foot on this town’s main street – absorbing the beautiful and serene setting surrounding me. I became intrigued further by each building or object I would pass, submersed in the brilliant calm that this town seemed to give off. I wandered up and down each intersection, until a large open door caught my attention; an entire garage filled with old, dusty cars. The garage now silently sits as a museum for those interested enough to learn about the history that would have passed through Shaniko. Vehicles from old Chryslers to a 1919 Studebaker – even Chevrolets from as far back as 1918 all sit now collecting dust. One can only imagine the incredible stories these cars would have to tell.

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So how did Shaniko – one of the most famous ghost towns in Oregon, come to existence in the first place?

The year was 1862, and the Homestead Act had just been put into place as people began to settle. By the year 1898, with no efficient way for goods to be transported came the proposal for a railroad to be built. The construction of this railway sparked the idea of a town, and by 1900 the tracks of the Columbia Southern Railroad Line finally made it to the future home of Shaniko, Oregon. By 1901, Shaniko was established and commerce had already begun, with this railway making Shaniko a hub for all of Oregon’s interior trade straight down to the California border. During the year of 1903, Shaniko had become famous for its wool trade, being the town’s claim to fame. World records were set for wool production, with some days yielding up to $3,000,000 in transactions for a single day. However, it was not long after this that the town would begin a sharp decline.

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By 1910, population was at its peak with 495 residents, but never broke 500 before the town began quickly falling apart. With only 10 years heavily involved in trade came a very sudden, very early recession for Shaniko. In the year of 1911 alone, not only was the mayor shot and killed, but so came the end of the Columbia Southern Railroad Line, halting wool production, as well as any other major trade. With its heyday turning to grey days, population quickly dropped, and by 1920 sat at only 124 people – down 74.9 percent from the 1910 census.

Between 1920 and 1970, numerous other incidents continued to negatively impact Shaniko, including several major fires, taking most of the town’s business district and turning it to smoldering ash. With population rapidly declining following these fires, the school shuttered its doors in 1951 – but it wouldn’t be long before a growing interest would arise in the study of ghost towns, and Shaniko would begin to garner attention from many interested travelers. Through the 1960s, this growing interest would bring a small revival to the town of Shaniko from all those passing through, though not large enough to sustain a full recovery to the bright life it once lived. During the late 70s through early 80s, preservation became paramount and a much greater effort was put into effect, attempting to save the town for eyes and ears of future generations to see and learn.

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“Shaniko calls the people she needs to survive,” I was told by one current resident, Debra Holbrook, who moved to the town in 1993. Debra had a goal of bringing Oregon history to people, sharing with adults and children, taking them to places where history happened. Just like me, she was never incredibly interested in history during her school years. Moving to Shaniko opened her eyes to a brand new world of discovery, and the idea to preserve the stories of places such as this one became a quickly growing interest.

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“The only word that could describe it was home,” Debra told me as we talked.

By 1996, Debra was still living in Shaniko, running a shop with her mother and enjoying the peacefulness of this countryside town just as much as ever. As years passed, more shops and buildings were eventually closed including the large hotel, which now sits an empty shell looming over the center of town. Days dragged by, population fluctuated, and numerous people continued passing through just to hear a nearly forgotten history and learn the tale of this once vibrant town. To this day, Shaniko still welcomes visitors with open arms, provided they have open minds and genuine interest.

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With a current population of only 36, it’s no surprise that I was able to meet some amazing and very friendly people – people who were more than excited to share stories of the town’s past, and were incredibly inviting as well as helpful. The remaining life in this town made it easily one of the most unique and peaceful places I have had the pleasure of visiting in my travels. As quantity of people decreases, qualities greatly increase – it seems to happen that way more often than not in towns like this. I think what made this adventure seem even stranger to me than normal is the fact that I have photographed many places, but none that were built up so greatly only to fall so quickly.

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While sometimes it seems like the life of these forgotten places fades faster than interior lights of a locked car – other places, such as Shaniko keep at least a small glow, refusing to go out. I will always say I believe that it’s important for us to save these memories in hopes of making them last forever. I’m here now, and plan to save as many stories as possible while I have the chance.

View the entire photo gallery for this story here – http://bit.ly/1RALz07

View a video about this place here:

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday!

Just a small announcement I would really like to make. Between my stories and what not, there are times when I like to take a moment out to just say something else!

First I want to say happy birthday to my sister, who is the most awesome and amazing sister in the world. She has always been supportive of everything I have wanted to do and really just been there for me through a lot. She’s an amazing artist of many different arts – from painting, to music, as well as…of course, cake decorating. So happy birthday to my amazing sister! And of course, happy mother’s day to my sister as well, for being an amazing mother and raising my two amazing nieces! I love you all!

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Second, I want to say happy mother’s day to every mother out there, but especially my mother! I want to thank my mom for being there for me through so much for my entire life, having to act as both parents for a good portion of my life, and doing the best job that anybody could ever do at it. She works so hard, never gives up and does so much, I really don’t understand HOW she does so much and does it all so perfectly. Through so much in life, she has been so supportive and helpful of everything I have done or went through. If it weren’t for her, I don’t think I would be anywhere close to where I am now with everything that I do – if it weren’t for her support, help, caring and love. We have went on many adventures, a lot of which I know many mothers would not be taking part in, so I definitely thank her for that.

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If it weren’t for her caring and incredible support in my ideas, I wouldn’t have that drive that I have now. If it weren’t for her being so awesome, I would not have that creative mind that I truly enjoy having. Many people aren’t accepting of many ideas, and will push them away as negative – she has never done this. Even when ideas I had may have been questionable, she still supported the idea and would always love the final result – this is really the most awesome and amazing thing that a parent could do. If it weren’t for her, I would not have been able to open my mind so freely in the way that I have, and I thank her for also being one of the most imaginative and creative thinkers that I know. Not only that, but she is a great artist, though she does not do much of that anymore – I think she should. She creates some really amazing things from crafts and beyond.

If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t have been introduced to some of the greatest and most beautiful music of all time. Not only was I introduced to amazing music of ALL kinds when I was very young, throughout my life growing up, but I have introduced her to so much music as well. I think it’s amazing to be able to connect with parents on music genres and different tastes. She has one of the most amazing open minds ever, and a great ear and love for so much music – you can definitely tell she’s my mom because of that alone! Haha

So this song is for this day, because every time I listen to it, it makes me think of her. We both love this band and, well…it’s an amazing song! So thank you again for being the most amazing mother, friend and more, in the entire world. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCB_INs2E24

So to my mother, happy mother’s day and I love you so much!

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The photo of these trees above has a TON to do with my mother, but that is a long and weird story of simple nostalgia that I have from a day on my birthday in 2008.

And once again, happy mother’s day to all of the mothers out there! This is your day!

Neosho Falls – A Town One Might Only Imagine

We were headed into Southern Kansas, seventy-five miles per hour across what seemed to be an endless stretch of flat and empty highway, eventually carrying us into a very unusual town. Uniquely intriguing could possibly be the best pair of words to describe this place. The town was like something you might imagine seeing only in movies – something that many may believe still exists only within imagination – a wonderfully weird ghost town, left practically empty, but still held together by some of the most interesting characters who continue to paint the picture of its remaining life. Of course it was decided that we would walk its dusty dirt roads, examining the neighborhood, which would most likely lead us into an unforgettable experience. Who says you can’t have a little bit of fun in the decrepit countryside of Kansas?

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Outside of a normal route, down a stretch of dirt road, lies the very strange town of Neosho Falls – not to be confused with Neosho County, which is what a few kind locals will bring heavily to your attention when engaged in conversation. If you have an adventurous spirit, or a burning desire to challenge the smoking guns and ruthless attitudes that a few of this town’s rougher residents carry with them, it may be just the place for you – otherwise I would suggest leaving this untamed madness in the shadows.

Stepping into this quiet old town was like unlocking a hidden passageway, opening directly into the heart of a dusty old story book, and falling further in, you become more and more immersed, as imagination truly becomes reality. Eventually, I realized that what I was wandering was, in fact, a very real forgotten place. It’s a mostly lost place, a near-ghost town, a practically forgotten village. It’s that kind of town where, during the beginning of spring time, when someone starts their lawnmower for the first time, every single person knows it.

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The city of Neosho Falls was established on April 6, 1857 by Benjamin F. Goss, alongside his brother Colonel National S. Goss and Isaac W. Dow. Benjamin F. Goss would later come to organize a company of cavalry to fight for the union in the American Civil War. Neosho Falls is actually the oldest town in Woodson County, with the first post office being established May of 1857 – exactly 158 years prior to this writing.

1879 – Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife visit the Neosho Valley fair. During this same year, Neosho falls reached its peak population of right over 1,200 residents, but would continue to fall with the passing of each following decade. At this time, the town boasted numerous lively retail businesses, two banks, as well as manufacturing facilities full of life and energy, producing goods mainly for the town, but many surrounding areas as well. Flour mills, sawmills and more filled the many spaces of this countryside town, and everything ran like clockwork, if only for a short period of time. The Woodson County Post newspaper was still in heavy circulation, and I could only imagine how daily life was for this lively, small town, as a paper boy rode up and down each block delivering news to all of the happy, close-knit, rural families.

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During the first half of the 20th century, the town would come to see numerous negative impacts, eventually leading to the early abandonment of many factories and mills. Electricity replaced water power and there was simply no longer a need for certain structures, becoming tossed aside and forgotten, leaving them to fall away into dust. A hydroelectric plant was built in an attempt to keep up with the growing technology, but was short-lived and very quickly abandoned. It’s rare to find a place that fell so quickly downhill ‘in such early years of its life, and it was not long after the town began to go under that it would literally “go under.” In 1926, Neosho would see its first flood, submerging the town, putting it entirely under water. This disaster resulted in one death and an immense amount of damage to the town, with nothing but years of steady decline to follow.

Very soon after their first flood, Neosho’s remaining population bid farewell to the roaring 20’s, welcoming the 1930s, bringing with it a decade full of heartache, headaches and struggles known as the Great Depression. Once the depression hit full force, this could only mean more rough times to come for Neosho Falls. The town soon lost their only newspaper, along with the only bank still standing. The Santa Fe Railroad pulled out in 1935, however they were still left with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway – which Neosho was home to. More oil was discovered in 1937 and an attempt to rebuild was made, but effort was all for naught when most everybody came to the realization that there was just no use attempting to revive this town to the life it once enjoyed. Fast forward a bit and we find ourselves welcoming the 1950’s. It was during the beginning of this decade, that a second devastating flood hit the town in 1951, washing away and destroying most of the town. Due to such a great drop in population, the high school closed its doors in 1961, shortly followed by closure of the town’s grade school in 1969.

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In Kansas, there’s a whole lot of nothing but fast highways and open countryside. No cell service for miles, no internet and very few gas stations, so you had better come prepared when driving many of these long stretches of road. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my drive through this wide open state, it’s that you should fill your gas tank at any chance given – and not only that you should, but that you will most likely NEED to.

With a population of only 141 residents tucked away in the quiet countryside, it’s no surprise that there are absolutely no satellite connections here. Emergency resources are scarce to none in Neosho. Hell, the town only has a single sheriff, whom actually doesn’t even reside inside the town, rarely even paying small visits to check in on how things are going. Police and fire emergency vehicles of any sort have been cut from this land, and even the former gas station hasn’t seen a customer in years. More recently, the only remaining business in town – the Oasis Tavern, has shuttered its doors, boarded its windows and closed indefinitely. On Friday nights, everyone goes out for country drives in their trucks under the warm spring and summer air, having fun and immersing themselves into the outdoors under bright blue glow of moonlight. Living amidst the light pollution of cities, it seems unreal to me how bright the moon actually illuminates everything in a place like this. I could feel the old country charm growing with each block that I walked. Outside one home in particular, a sign read “no visitors after 8:00 pm Sunday thru Thursday!” This simple sign reminds me of a time when things were simpler, those summer days when children rode their bikes from block to block, and meeting with their friends; peaceful nostalgia – though I will note that we did not have dirt roads where I grew up.

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The town seemed to have had its fortune flipped upside down so greatly, I felt at any moment my feet could leave the ground, sending me falling into the sky. This place is definitely incomparable to any I have wandered before. It’s like life here has been stuck in time for the last 70 years. Dirt roads kick up clouds of dust with each passing pickup, and only a couple of crooked street lights illuminate the town, buzzing as they turn on, welcoming nightfall with their peaceful amber glow. Every dog roams free, joining each other in yards to run and play without worry of any traffic for miles. Oh – and everybody owns a dog – it becomes practically a madhouse of barking for multiple moments throughout the day. I made my way up and down numerous lonesome dirt roads, kicking up small stones at my feet as I walked. I could feel people staring at me like I had done something horribly wrong, or upset some kind of fragile balance; this wasn’t really the case – so much as it was that the people were surprised to see any kind of outsider wandering their quiet countryside town. I could tell that within just a few short moments, everybody was aware of my presence, knowing fully that I didn’t belong. Even the dogs gave me a bit of an evil eye. It wasn’t long after I had done a bit of meandering that I was approached by a man toting his guns and superiority, boasting an ego so large that it could pinch out the sun like it was a small ember. Now, don’t get me wrong – I agree with every point he made to me, other than the part where I was threatened with the possibility of being shot; I mean, is that really necessary?

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The thing is, when photographing places such as this, I’m often asked why I find such a heavy interest. As I mentioned, having been threatened with the possibility of being shot at, with not so much as one single police officer in the entire town, there has to be a reason I continued to photograph and document. I’ve said it over and over again, but the bigger picture continues to grow with the infinite amount of small details forever being added, varying from location to location. I love to find a less-noticed beauty in the blight of these places, at times creating a sight of despondence during past lives, when all hope was finally given up – everything left behind. Not only do I find this beauty in the forgotten, but through resurrecting the lost stories of happy lives, or even uncovering an interesting history. If you could put a key to the stormy sky, and open up the clouds, you would be greeted with a bright blue wonder – behind darkness always follows light.

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The future of Neosho Falls is uncertain, and I’m unsure where the town’s life will head, but some of the original families do still remain, holding their ground until the day they finally move on – like a collective of captains going down with their ship.

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