Call it a high-spirited picnic amid the ruins of a ghost town.
On May 1, the Lane County Historical Museum will host a “Picnic in Ravanna” – the site of the ghost town in the defunct county of Garfield.
The event, which begins at the museum at 3 p.m. with stops at the ghost town of Eminence begins with presentations, and ends with the sack lunch at Ravanna, said museum board president, Joel Herndon.
Herndon said the idea began to develop after having a speaker talk about the Jewish settlement of Beersheba in Finney County at the museum’s annual meeting.
“It wet their whistle,” he said.
For several years, two towns – Eminence and Ravanna – waged a bitter battle for the seat of Garfield County. Ravanna won round one of the battle by 35 votes. With the apparent victory, residents approved a $10,000 courthouse and there were plans to build a school.
Eminence residents weren’t about to accept defeat. They protested to the state, saying the ballot boxes were stuffed – largely by people whose only residences in the area were in the cemetery.
According to the Kansas State Historical Society, several thousand votes were cast in the November 1887 election, despite, most likely, both towns only having a population of about 400.
The Kansas Supreme Court agreed with Eminence, finding that 60 votes were cast by deceased voters. They awarded the county seat to Eminence.
Yet, the battle continued. Finally, the Garfield County Commission agreed in late 1892 that if an impartial survey showed the county to consist of less than 432 square miles, as required by the state, the county would be dissolved.
It was dissolved in March 1893 and annexed to Finney County. Ravanna and Eminence have largely disappeared.
Herndon said the guided tour starts at 3 p.m. at the museum. The tour will then travel to Eminence where visitors can see the town’s old school still standing. Former Eminence resident Eddie Boots will talk about the history of the town, giving a slide presentation from inside the school The next part of the journey will go to the ruins of Ravanna, where guests will hear from local historian and Ravanna native Tom Reed while enjoying a picnic lunch.
At Ravanna, folks can see the remains of the old school, as well as the courthouse. On top of a nearby hill is the Ravanna cemetery.
Herndon said cost is $20 for individuals and $35 for couples. Children under 10 are free. There are groups rates, as well.
The tour is a fundraiser for the county museum, he said. Tickets include the sack lunch.
For more information and to RSVP for the event and picnic lunch, visit lanecountymuseum.org/events.html or call the museum at (620) 397-5652.