Happy In Bag

Monday, February 27, 2006

Nelson's Island

There’s an undiscovered magical island of enchantment along the Kansas River in northwest Johnson County.

Well, not really.

Still, the scruffy sliver of land named Nelson’s Island is a pleasant enough diversion for casual hikers and nature lovers. You get there by following the garbage trucks off the Holliday Drive exit from I-435. The county-run park is adjacent to the enormous trash dump operated by Deffenbaugh.

My companion and I had it to ourselves Saturday morning. A paved path meanders through a meadow before reaching a bridge to the island. The lack of water under the bridge somewhat spoils the romantic island concept, but I’ll chalk it up to the winter drought. A couple paths loop across the so-called island.

The land was the site of a mill built for Shawnee Indians that was destroyed by a flood in 1844. And a man named Frank Nelson lived there seventy years ago. Yet recalling the past isn't easy; there's a constant rumble from the dump and nearby train tracks, and industrial concerns flank the north riverbank.

A savvy entrepreneur might propose transforming this obscure real estate into a modest Tom Sawyer theme park, replete with wooden forts, mazes and the like. It’d be a guaranteed hit.


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