Several years ago, in the last century, I took a road trip to the plains of our country. While planning this trip, I was looking over a map and discovered a town in Kansas with the very same name as my home town in Kentucky. So Russell Springs became one of the scheduled stops of this trip.
While driving through Kansas, I made my way to State Route 25 and headed south into Logan County. It seemed to me that most of the back roads in Kansas were straight, two lane, and either paved or gravel. This one was paved. I drove for several miles, before I came into the town of Russell Springs. There wasn’t a lot there, because it was a very small place. At one time in its history, Russell Springs was the Logan County seat of government. A cattle drive trail, The Butterfield Trail, came straight through Russell Springs. But, alas, progress moved the government to another town, closer to the big highway, and cattle drives stopped. The local school closed and kids were bused to other towns. Residents would leave and seldom return, except to visit. A lot of small towns in America end up like this one. What a shame!
There were a few houses, a former school building, and a large two-story former courthouse that was now a museum, open only Memorial Day to Labor Day. (I was here in late September.) Most of the residents seemed to be cows. I had been here a little while and was planning to take a back road to another town, but I was wondering if a particular route was a good idea. So I decided to knock on a door and ask.
I pulled into a driveway near the museum, exited my pickum-up truck, walked up to the house, map in hand, and knocked on the door. It soon opened and I was greeted by an older lady. I asked her my questions, which she pleasantly answered, and then she asked me about my trip. I told her briefly about my home town of Russell Springs, KY., and about my trip. Another older lady came to the door and listened to the conversation. (Unfortunately, I do not remember either of their names.) The first lady asked me if I wanted to tour the museum. As it happened, these ladies were “keepers of the museum” and offered to open it up for me.
So we got into our respective vehicles and drove about a hundred yards to the building. They opened the doors and we entered. The ladies gave me permission to go anywhere in the building. The museum was, at one time, the Logan County Courthouse, and held other county offices. It now held relics from a time long ago, as any historical museum does. Clothing, tools, photos, documents, and other museum-worthy items. No elevator, so the ladies did not go upstairs with me. The courtroom was upstairs and still looked like an old courtroom. After a little while, I returned to the lobby where the ladies waited for me. We left the building and the ladies locked the doors and we went back to their house. I gave them some money as a donation for the museum and they gave me a grasshopper. What you say, a grasshopper?
Yes, a large dark brown colored metal grasshopper. Almost 5 ½ inches from the tip of its antenna to its back-end. A little over 2 inches wide from foot to foot. And 2 ½ inches from bottom of its feet to the top of its hind legs. A whopper for sure! Grasshoppers (sometimes known as locusts) did do a lot of damage to crops in several states in the Great Plains in the late 1800’s. (And around the world at various times in history.) They even grew much larger than mine and invaded Chicago. (See “Beginning of the End”).
Well, I thanked the ladies for their kindness and generosity and off I went to continue my adventure, with pet grasshopper “Hoppy” at my side and Mountain Dew in my cooler.
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