Road Trip: Clinton OK to Dodge City KS

Road Trip from Clinton OK to Dodge City KS

Here’s a stretch of road that really shows a forgotten part of America. These are towns where anyone who got an education managed to leave is my best guess. The landscape, scenery and the drive are all great. The towns that the road connects are often sad. The best kid in each town’s local high school should get a good education for free and be required to come back to their respective home towns and improve them.  Part of me understands why you would leave a town – I did it.  But there’s a part of me that feels quite guilty not going back and helping to make that town a better place.  I don’t know why.

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The water tower at Strong City, Oklahoma along OK State Route 33

There is great potential in these little towns. They are so landlocked though. I know that makes me sound like what some people call a “coastal elite.”  But I adore these places for what they are and for what they were and still could be.  Could five or six of them get together and create something that people would love to see and experience?  Could there be a US 283 Oklahoma/Kansas Middle America Trail?  Would people drive here to see it?  I don’t know but I found it had great potential and was worth the drive.

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The road over the Foss Reservoir Dam is interesting. It gives you a weird feeling with high water on one side and grassy embankment on the other.

Surrounded by giant farms and not much else. This is the real America. We left Clinton and headed north on the 183 and then west on the 33. The first town we encountered was Butler, OK. We then drove over the dam at the Foss Lake which was a bit strange having water so close on one side and an embankment of earth on the other. We continued until we got to Strong City where there is an amazing old water tower. These are the artifacts of America if it were a history museum.

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A government vehicle (police car) in Butler, Oklahoma with derelict buildings in the background.

We turned north on the 283. Arnett is an amazing little town. Nothing there but that’s what is so amazing. There are a lot of buildings that are abandoned and where time has stood still.  I was surprised to catch a police officer sitting in a relatively nice car doing nothing but being a contrast to the unkempt grass and buildings all around it as if to say “we don’t care about what the town looks like, as long as the local policeman has a nice car to sit in and keep law and order.”  It was definitely strange and a bizarre priority.

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Shattuck, Oklahoma still has a downtown that is hanging in there.

A bit further on is a town called Shattuck.  It is much more lively than Arnett.  At least that is my impression and observation but if you go don’t expect lively. I said it was more lively than dead.  They’re quite proud of their Indians – the local high school football team. It gives the towns people something to be proud of and something to rally around I suppose. Ed’s Café, where we ate, had images of the football team.

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The food, service and people at Ed’s Cafe in Shattuck is well worth a stop.

I gather they had a good team in the 1940-41 years because there was something on the wall highlighting that team.  The food at Ed’s was good and well worth a stop.  What a treat to be able to see and experience this part of America.

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Along US 283 in Arnett, Oklahoma time stands still.

Laverne is another town along this route. A banner stretched across its main street welcoming people as if it were River City in the Music Man. The hilly roads all along here are an easy drive in an RV and fascinating.

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Another shot of Arnett, Oklahoma with graffiti that reads “Time heals nothing, It just replaces memories” on the side of an abandoned building.

As you roll into Kansas there is a sign that is rather small but a sign nonetheless so you know you’re in Kansas. Englewood is the first town in the state. It is almost creepy but fascinating too.  Another artifact of America just like the town beyond it – Minneola.

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The town of Laverne, Oklahoma (north of Shattuck along US 283) has a small library and post office and a downtown that needs some pioneering small town urbanists.

Eventually you arrive in Dodge City and if you go straight to the downtown rather than following the 283 you’ll pass by the Last Chance Saloon and some other dodgier establishments that look like the rest of this stretch of road.  We pulled into the Fort Dodge RV Resort and couldn’t have been happier with it and its location near downtown,  a water park, and the area’s attractions.  I’d highly recommend it.

Englewood, Kansas is a semi-ghost town.

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