Monument Travel Blog› entry 79 of 90 › view all entries
We stopped in Oakley, KS again. So off I go with my camera to find anything interesting on unfamiliar roads.
I pick Hwy 40 this time.. ;P
About 11 miles West of Oakley is the unincorporated town of Monument, KS. About a block away from the highway was an old church building beautifully lit by the late afternoon sun. Monument is a small spec of a town. It was once considered a large town for the area, but like many other prairie towns it is on the decline. Now it is populated mostly with elderly folk who grew up in the area and chose to stay.
I learn from a local woman that the town was originally settled by German and "White" Russian immigrants. I'm not exactly sure what she means by "White Russians".
At first I was kinda nervous about photographing the church with all the little houses and their occupant around watching me. Most people don't really mind me poking my head around, but normally I am out of sight from town and its denizens. With Simone parked on the side of the road, I managed to wave a passing local resident down to ask if she knew anything about the church. Being that I had planned on walking around the property I thought it best to see how someone local would react to my presence.
The woman, Crystal, was more than friendly. She knew who owned the property and drove home to get the owner's phone number. Since she couldn't get ahold of the owner she then called the owner's Daughter. Crystal then came back to where I was and waited with me until the Daughter called back with how to get ahold of her mother.
20 minutes Later Jolene, The owner, drove up with her grandkids and unlocked the church door for me!
I felt so grateful and fortunate! I really didn't think that someone would drive from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere just to let me inside a decaying church. But here she was more than happy that someone was wanting to know about her little church.
The church was constructed in 1930 and used by local Methodists until maybe 20 years ago, when the congregation then united with a Methodist group in Oakley.
Its a sad story.
Jolene hasn't been able to enter the building for a while. She grew up in this town and went to Sunday school in the church basement.
Inside were maybe 50 pigeons. They were all over the place. Most of them flew out through the ceiling gaps. A few remained behind. The place was filthy. Everything was covered with pigeon droppings. But at least the wooden floor was sturdy and I didn't have to worry about falling through into the musty basement with all the shit covered antiques.. :)
After rummaging around inside the Church with Jolene we walked next door to the parish house.
It was a very informative photo excursion! Jolene was more than kind and generous for spending so much time walking and talking with me.