Saturday, May 12, 2012

Arvonia, Kansas

Off Interstate 35 on the way north and east from Emporia to Overland Park is all that remains of Arvonia, Kansas. The marker is at the turn off to Lebo, Kansas. Turn onto Hoch Road opposite to Lebo, go north 3 miles, turn left on 325th Street (it is just before the bridge that crosses Melvern Lake), and drive up a gravel road a quarter of a mile. You find yourself on the south end of a little known rural community called Arvonia.

In 1869, J. Mather Jones of Utica, New York and James A. Whitaker of Chicago, bought the land and founded the town of Arvonia, Kansas. In 1871, nearly 450 residents lived and worked in Arvonia. Today, there are perhaps less than 10. All that remains is a beautiful one room schoolhouse, a church, a few beautifully kept homes, and the town well where the residents used to gather water.

Arvonia schoolhouse

Shortly after its founding, Arvonia businesses included two cheese factories, a sawmill, coal mines, a general store, a chicken hatchery and a hotel. Arvonia was on its way to becoming a bustling community in one of the newest states in the United States. But town survival was a question of access to railroads, and unfortunately for Arvonia the railroads went north to Reading and south to Lebo.

Read more from the Lebo Light.

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