Historical society speaker to explore stories about area’s abandoned places

Emily Cowan has written three books about abandoned places in Kansas and Missouri. She'll come to the Allen County Historical Society's spring meeting Tuesday to talk about the area's history and talk about preservation.


Local News

April 11, 2024 - 2:18 PM

A maze of tunnels and various entrances and exits dot the old property of the cement plant at Concreto. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Emily Cowan, founder of the Abandoned Kansas and Missouri branches of the Abandoned Atlas Foundation, recalls seeing her first abandoned place.

Emily Cowan

The Skedee school in Oklahoma had been closed for 50 years, so Cowan was shocked to see papers and books with former students’ names still written inside, according to a biography Cowan wrote on the website AbandonedAtlas.com.

She had many questions:

Why and when did it close? Who went there? What was going to happen to the old building?

That jump-started a hobby of exploring abandoned places in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. She joined the Abandoned Oklahoma team in 2019 to redesign the website. She’s now the most prolific author and researcher on the site, publishing more than 400 stories of places she’s discovered. She wrote two books by the age of 21, “Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World” and “Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State.” Her newest book is “Abandoned Kansas: Healthcare in the Heartland.”

Cowan will be the featured speaker for the Allen County Historical Society’s Spring Quarterly Meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the Iola Public Library’s Meeting Room, 218 E. Madison. Ave.

Cowan will talk about some of the rich historic locations that are spread throughout Allen County as well as highlighting the many ways ordinary people can get involved in the world of preservation. The long list of opportunities may surprise you.

This event is free and open to the public to attend. The historical society will be providing snacks and refreshments during the presentation.  

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