Sinkholes happen

Likening a boring activity to watching the grass grow might work for people living in regions of the country unaffected by drought or extended dry spells.

In many parts of barren western Kansas, however, the idiom falls flat. Not only does the industrious nature of area residents preclude having the time to watch a lawn sprout, there's no guarantee one's yard or field ever will move beyond a dusty brown hue.

So if something's going to happen on the ground that isn't agricultural in nature, it had better be big if it's going to be noticed.

Something such as the 300-foot wide sinkhole that recently appeared in Wallace County. Estimated at 90 feet deep, the pit has been the talk of the town not only in nearby Wallace but has attracted international media attention. Despite its location on private property and more than a mile from the nearest road, the site has brought curious onlookers by the thousands who do not heed the "no trespassing" signs in place.

"There's lots of people," said Wallace County Sheriff Larry Townsend. "I would say thousands now. Vans and SUVs and then the bus."

For a sinkhole that didn't claim the life of somebody sleeping in their own bed, this geological event is attracting a large crowd.

We understand those familiar with the area to have a natural curiosity. If you knew the "before" it's logical to want to view the "after."

But for busloads of people to make their way to the impromptu tourist attraction? This says a lot more about those people than the sinkhole itself. We would even go so far as to suggest their lives are about as interesting as watching the grass grow.

Wannabe visitors are reminded this is private property, and the owners have requested that trespassers stay out. If that isn't enough, the sinkhole is growing. The potential danger inherent at such a site is not worth capturing an image with a cellphone.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net