Friday, April 20, 2012

Lebo Kansas

In Kansas, I-35 runs 234 miles from Oklahoma through Wichita, past Emporia and Overland Park then on to Missouri.

North of Emporia, I-35 passes Lebo, the principal town of Coffey County.

Lebo founded 1883

Lebo's history dates to April 17, 1883, when David L. Jones purchased 80 acres. The land was just east of land owned by the Santa Fe Railroad where a train depot was going to be built. This was good news for Mr. Jones and bad news for the small community of Arvonia, Kansas to the north, which was also hoping for the railroad.

View from Old Highway 50

On February 11, 1884, the first train arrived, and the town of Lebo was off and running, its economy based on the farming, livestock, coal mining, and the railroad. Lebo has never been a large town and today its citizens number less than 1000 souls. Nevertheless, it is a happy place where everyone knows your name, and the big event in the fall is the sporting event under the Friday night lights at the high school football field. Lebo is also proud of its winning basketball program.

The Old Bank

What is left of Lebo are a beautiful two story limestone, a drug store, Sleezer's barbershop, a lumber store, the grain elevators, and enough businesses to keep the community going for another 100 years. It may not be Manhattan, but it might be Kansas' own version of Mayberry.

Dog on a truck

Sleezer's Barber Shop

Walter and Evan (Evie) Jones, descendants of the founders of Lebo, were reared on a farm north of Lebo, Kansas, in Coffey County. At the turn of the century, the brothers inherited 200 acres of land, and they began farming forming a partnership, Jones and Jones. Walter Jones died in early 1953, and Evan followed a few months later. Along with Walter's wife Olive, the Jones Estate was left in a trust that serves the interests of needy children and funds the Jones Policy Center, the W.S. and E.C. Jones Conference Center, and the Jones Distinguished Professorship at Emporia State University. Jones Institute at Emporia State University.

old image Skelly gas station, Lebo, Kansas, November 2013, evening

Skelley Gas Station, Old Highway 50

Toby watches for the train

The official web site of Lebo, Kansas

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