Category Archives: Lost Cities

Then & Now: Bonita

By 1874, Johnson County was crisscrossed by railroad lines heading for Olathe. A number of small communities, including Bonita, Wainright, Elizabeth, Pleasant View, and Lackman sprang up at points along the tracks, but ultimately these fledgling settlements were not successful.

While the other communities appear to have been little more than names on a map, vestiges of Bonita survive today. The small railroad town of Bonita straddled the Olathe-Spring Hill Township line along the Missouri River, Ft. Scott & Gulf railroad.

Johnson County map, 1893

This 1893 United States Geological Survey map shows the location of Bonita.

First settled in 1879, by 1910 the tiny hamlet offered a general store, a railroad depot, a grain elevator, and a few residences, with a population of just 35.

Bonita, looking northeast

Bonita, about 1908

 The depot and post office were closed in the 1930s, and the small community was dealt another blow when it was bypassed by U.S. 169. Nevertheless, the general store continued to operate through the 1990s.

For nearly a hundred years, the general store in Bonita adapted to serve the changing needs of the surrounding area. In its earliest years, the store—at that time named Kuhlman Brothers General Merchandise—carried “everything except threshing machines”—and those could be ordered.

Kuhlman Bros. store

Kuhlman Bros. store in Bonita, about 1905

As gasoline became a necessity of rural life, the store–renamed Russell’s Grain and Feed–made that a part of its inventory, too.

Russell's Grain and Feed store

Russell's Grain and Feed store in Bonita, about 1968

And in its twilight years the store continued to function as a gathering place for local farmers.

Russell Grain and Feed store

Russell Grain and Feed Store in Bonita, 1996

The store, along with three remaining Bonita residences, still stands at the intersection of 175th Street and Woodland Road.

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Then & Now: The Holliday Edition

In a nod to the season, we cast our minds back to memories of Holliday’s past.

Holliday, Kansas, that is.

Alderson's store

Townspeople gather at Alderson's store in Holliday, late 1800s

Holliday, originally named Waseca, was platted in 1882 on the south bank of the Kansas River. It was the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad—founded by the town’s namesake, Cyrus K. Holliday—three years later that breathed life into the small community. As many as 45 workers found employment at the depot, which also served as a refueling station for the steam locomotives of the era.

Holliday depot

Holliday's depot, about 1940

By the turn of the 20th century, the town was also a hub for farmers in the surrounding area, and in 1910 boasted three general stores, a restaurant, blacksmith shop, barbershop, dance hall, depot, and two churches. Holliday also had two schools: home to a thriving black community, Holliday’s children attended segregated schools.

Holliday School

Holliday School, District No. 100, late 1800s

After World War II, things began to go south for the little town. First, the transition from steam to diesel locomotives diminished Holliday’s importance as a railroad station, and the depot closed in 1949. Then, the big one struck. In the summer of 1951, the Kansas River valley was swept by a historic flood, and the town of Holliday was among the casualties. For nearly a month, the flood waters cut off the people of Holliday from the rest of the world. After the flood, few townspeople rebuilt. The school consolidations of the 1960s shuttered Holliday’s school.

Flood damage in Holliday

Leonard Stanton and George Lynn survey the flood damage in Holliday, 1951

In the years that followed, what remained of the once bustling hamlet fell into disrepair. In 1968, the City of Shawnee annexed the area. A series of fires claimed some of the structures, including one of the historic general stores. By 2002, just eight homes still stood, clustered around the intersection of 50th and Locust Streets. That year, the final death blow fell. Deffenbaugh Industries purchased the town site to expand the Johnson County Landfill, and bulldozers demolished the last vestiges of the little town of Holliday.

Johnson County landfill

View of the berm surrounding the Johnson County Landfill


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Eureka School

Eureka SchoolThis little schoolhouse was located in Aubry township, just southwest of Morse. The building was sold at auction on January 31, 1953. View photos of Eureka School.

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Four Corners School

class at Four CornersWhile searching JoCoHistory for school photos recently, I came across a lone picture of a class at Four Corners School. This school was located in the Mount Pleasant area in the southwest part of the county. While this is the sole item in JoCoHistory other photos are available in the book The History of “Four Corners”, Mount Pleasant, Johnson County, Kansas by Margaret Squires Gay.

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