K-State Students Examine a Long-Vanished School Landscape

It was a windy field trip to the prairies of northern Wabaunsee County for the fall 2012 Lost Kansas Communities class. On October 23, fifteen students gathered with 1880 plat maps, compasses, long-distance scopes, early census data, and other materials to examine a long-vanished school landscape.

Working from the site of Bean School, District #3, burned in a prairie fire a few years ago, students tackled the reconstruction of quite a few landscape features.  They figured out walking distances, homestead boundaries and survey lines, placement of stone and Osage orange fences, likely home sites, directional flow of creeks, sites of 19th century springs, old stock trails and ponds, and likely rates of farm persistence.

This class finally hammered out some puzzling aspects to Bean School landscape! Dr. Morgan had to restrain a few students from climbing over fences and hiking up dry streambeds, all on private property.

“Enthusiasm is good,” she says. “But we try to stay legal!”

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