By Amy Bickel - The Hutchinson News - firstname.lastname@example.org
AULNE - Karen Penner sometimes wonders what Aulne would have been like if the vote had gone the other way. On this spring day, she stood amid the town's main drag with high school classmate Eugene Just. Brush and trees cover an area where businesses once stood - old stores that have long been carted off. Along with a dozen or so houses, only the Methodist Church still stands, where area residents gather each Sunday. Cattycorner across the street is the old Aulne State Bank, which, on this day, is buzzing with a colony of bees. It hasn't been a lending institution in nearly 90 years - not since the banker embezzled money.
However, go back more than 100 years ago when this little stop in the road had about 200 people and the region's Mennonite community was looking for a place to put up a college. A town along the railroad, Aulne was one of the finalists.
But, obviously, there is no college in this ghost town. Tabor College has resided in Hillsboro since 1908, a town with nearly 3,000 in population.
"Once upon a time, Aulne was probably bigger than Hillsboro," Penner said, adding that with the college, "Aulne would have been much different."
In 1987, more than 1,100 people flocked to the streets of Aulne to celebrate a 100 years of existence.
It's also probably the last time so many people have been in the town at once.
Aulne United Methodist Church still has services every Sunday.
Eugene Just in the Aulne State Bank. It closed in the 1920s.
Inside the bank. It's used for storage
Just walks into the old bank vault.
Karen Penner and Eugene Just stand in front of the old bank building. Just owns the building. The bank closed in the 1920s.
A water pump from one of the old home still stands.