LETTERS: Rail trails are one more change we don’t need

Recently, my sister came upon some articles written in the 1930s by my cousin, Wallace Siebert, who lived in Canada (Kan.) and owned businesses there from 1913 to 1934. He, along with his brother Oscar, owned the grocery store and grain elevator.

Wallace, a farmer from Saskatchewan and a Marion County schoolteacher and businessman, knew a lot about the county and especially about the Santa Fe Railroad. He wrote that the rail came through Canada in 1880 bearing wheat that was 27 cents a bushel and corn that was 16 cents a bushel.

I believe Wallace and Oscar would be shocked at the changes that have taken place around Canada these days. Santa Fe had a corral that the farmers used in Canada to load livestock onto the train.

I didn’t think I would outlive the Santa Fe or realize the demolition of the Wichita Livestock Stock Exchange building in 1999, but I have. My wife and I have personally lost a couple of hundred acres of fertile farmland for flood control in the 1960s. After the Marion Reservoir was built, it appeared the flooding problems were not solved after all.

I have farmed one mile along the Santa Fe all my life and now have very real concerns about “Rails to Trails.”

I realize the majority rules, but I would like to have my say anyway. I liked Alvin Kroupa’s letter (Aug. 23 issue) and understand not everyone liked what he had to say and won’t like my words either. But let’s face it, changes are out of the farmer’s control. The law used to read that if the railroad discontinued, the properties would return to the landowners. That has changed, however.

Apparently, people feel there are better uses for the land than farming. After our hot summer, I would doubt that anyone would have enjoyed a walk in that heat. I don’t believe there would be many people to wave to and am sure you wouldn’t find a coffee shop along the way. You could probably find a sunflower or two-or maybe a steel post-for a windbreak.

The only advice I would give a weary traveler is that if you walk long and hard enough you could end up in Canada!

The question to answer, then, is this: At my age, what could a couple of acres along the former Santa Fe Railroad possibly mean to me? Probably not much.

I’m reminded of the lyrics of a Gene Autry song that really sums this all up for me. For you see, I am “riding into the sunset,” but you know “I’d rather ride than walk.”

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