Home > Art, columns, other people's stuff, small towns, traveling > Detroit, Denmark and Lucas

Detroit, Denmark and Lucas

August 14th, 2012 at 11:51 am

Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:

Bowl Plaza, Lucas

 

DETROIT, DENMARK AND LUCAS

Being able to travel from Detroit to Denmark within a couple of hours is just one of the perks of living in Kansas.

It was a Sunday morning and the air was cool for a change. The forecast put the highs in the upper 80s, so Dave and I made a spur-of-the moment decision to take a road trip. Fifteen minutes later, we were in the car, headed for Lucas. The Lucas community has completed two major projects since I was there in 2010, and I wanted to see how they turned out.

We stopped along the way, as we always do, to photograph whatever intrigues us. And we made a brief stop in Enterprise so Dave could rescue a turtle that seemed to have caught a leg in a railroad crossing.

At Detroit, an unincorporated community in Dickinson County, we photographed an old wood and tin elevator that was in the process of deconstructing itself.

Culver, in Ottawa County, has an interesting city building. The brick structure still has an old belfry and bell attached, but the town has been modernized with the addition of a tornado siren behind city hall. Also out back, is the old jail. It’s a one-cell concrete building with a steel door and bars on the windows, open to the air. Prisoners in the old days had natural lighting and also a breeze, warm or cold.

Down the road a bit, we found ourselves in Denmark, a ghost town located in Lincoln County. The Dansk Evangelical Lutheran Kirke is there, a church built of post rock limestone, constructed in 1878.

It’s a well-kept, gorgeous church pretty much out in the country, since the town has dissolved around it. The “Kansas Post Offices” book indicates that Denmark’s post office closed in 1954.

A post rock fence edged one side of the cemetery. Post rock country isn’t too far from where I grew up, so these limestone fences take me back to the familiar scenes of my youth.

Arriving in Lucas, we stopped to see the outdoor sculptures at The Garden of Eden. We have taken the indoor tour previously, so we didn’t do that this time, but the concrete sculptures along the sidewalk are now in tip-top shape. Adam and Eve have been cleaned up nicely. The property underwent a complete restoration this past year and now the famous attraction looks great.

In downtown Lucas, in the vacant lot next to Eric Abraham’s Flying Pig Studio and Gallery, are the new public restrooms. This was a four-year project of the Grassroots Arts Center.

Public restrooms in a small town are a rare find, so this is definitely a worthwhile project. But this is not your generic utilitarian public restroom, this is a work of art.

From the street, you’ll see an oversized concrete roll of toilet paper off to the side. The concrete unwinds, flattens out and becomes the sidewalk leading to the toilets.

There’s an outdoor seating area, because, well, you always have to wait for someone. And inside that circle of seating is a ceramic piece of art by Eric Abraham. In the 6-foot swirl of ceramic water, Abraham has placed things that people have dropped into toilets: keys, a watch, a cell phone, a Super Bowl ticket, a $100 bill, among other things.

A mosaic piece around the door is shaped like a toilet bowl lid and it is covered with all kinds of glassware, broken and whole. Top and center is a plate from the Kansas Centennial. And there are collector plates from places like New York, Texas and Arizona. This mosaic was done by volunteers.

Now this is the only restroom I’ve ever been in that has a guest book. And once you step inside, you may be there awhile because once you start studying the complicated and colorful mosaics on the interior walls, you can’t stop.

On the side for men, you’ll find action figures in the mosaic walls as well as dozens of toy cars. On the women’s side, the art is more feminine in color and content.

The mosaics in the restroom areas were designed and created by local artist Mir-Pilar. And she also created the fabulous genie on the flying carpet on the exterior wall.

These are the coolest restrooms in the state. Even if you don’t need to go, it’s worth the trip to Lucas just to see them.

Copyright 2012 – Cheryl Unruh

Interior of the men’s room, Bowl Plaza, Lucas

 

Art, columns, other people's stuff, small towns, traveling

  1. Flips
    August 14th, 2012 at 20:33 | #1

    Thank Dave for saving the turtle– 🙂 & great story Cheryl– we have not been out that direction in Kansas for years now–

  2. Anna Keller
    August 14th, 2012 at 23:15 | #2

    More great things about Kansas, would like to see it!

  3. 1206SWMO
    August 18th, 2012 at 17:34 | #3

    I can proudly say that within the past 4 months I have been in Detroit,Denmark,and Lucas,Kansas of course…Denmark was one of my featured towns on here..Its a neat little village.