Scenic USA - Kansas

Neosho Falls

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Neosho Falls - Kansas

Photos by Terri Prepelka

   While driving through southeastern Kansas there's a good chance you'll cross the Neosho River. And because of Enter at your own risk - Neosho Falls, Kansas its 460 mile length and it winding path, there's a good chance to see the Neosho River quite a few more times. Here in Woodson County, curiosity seekers will find one of the oldest cities in southeastern Kansas. Once one of the most prosperous cities on the Neosho River, the population of Neosho Falls was boosted by the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad. Chosen as the site for the first county seat, the town's fortunes began to slowly dwindle over time. Today, some look upon this city a ghost town. Perhaps for some of its few hundred residents the term ghost town is not very endearing. But still in all, most of the streets and homes have fallen into disrepair. Overgrown with weeds, the high school, community center and dozens of abandoned homes are now subjects for the photographer's lens.
   The town's slow demise began with a flood in 1926. Abandoned by the railroad, the Depression Era also brought on another Neosho Falls City Limit exodus of town residents. The Great Flood of 1951, when June rains saturated eastern Kansas and western Missouri, spelled the end of city life in Neosho. Major rivers in the area, including the Neosho, reached extreme flood levels when 8 to 16 inches of rain fell in four days during July. Almost two million acres were submerged in the border towns of Kansas and Missouri, totaling nearly a billion dollars in damage (8.5 billion in 2016 dollars). The Neosho River crested 12 feet above flood stage, chasing away the remaining town residents ... most never to return.
    This view captures one of the many abandon Neosho Falls homes, found near the city limits.

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