Asylum Ramble, September 2009

Explored the area around the Osawatomie State Hospital (originally known as the Kansas Insane Asylum), located near Osawatomie, Kansas. The grounds are still beautiful, but you can see that they once were grand, and are now falling into disrepair. And yes, I was just visiting!

This is “John Brown Lookout Park”, located at about 319th & Lookout Road. This tall hill (with a steep climb!) provides a great view over a large area. There’s not really a park here, just the hill…

According to lore, this is where John Brown directed the escape of slaves by his Underground Railroad.

(This photo really doesn’t do it justice at all; it’s much more impressive in real life!)

This is looking toward Paola from the top of the hill at “John Brown Lookout Park”. From here you can also see Osawatomie and the Marais Des Cygnes River valley.

Osawatomie State Hospital in Osawatomie, KS. This was established in 1866 as the “Kansas Insane Asylum”.

This graveyard is unmarked, but I assume it contains the remains of patients who died at the hospital. There are roughly 300 headstones here, each marked with just a number.

Arbors and reflecting pond at the Osawatomie State Hospital. There’s no water in the pond, and the arbors and gardens are in disrepair, but this is still a peaceful setting.

Resting in the arbor.

There is a long set of stone stairs leading from the entrance gate up to the arbor. Again, they’ve seen better days, but still hold some grandeur.

This is the Asylum Bridge that connects Osawatomie to the State Hospital, over the Marais Des Cygnes River.

It’s a shame that Osawatomie is letting this historic bridge fall into ruin. It was built in 1905 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only known example of a “Reverse Parker Truss” bridge. It is currently closed to all traffic, but would make a great attraction for the town as a bike/ped bridge, and provide Hospital workers who live in Osawatomie a convenient path to walk or bike to work.

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.


  1. December 30, 2009

    Wow, what a fascinating, eerie place. I love it!

    Oddly enough, this (and all your posts since this one) just now showed up in my Bloglines account. Weird! Did you have RSS feed issues?

  2. December 30, 2009

    Neglect issues (blush). I hadn’t been keeping up with blogging at all. Lots of rides and lots of pics, but never got around to writing them up and posting them on the blog, then did them all at once over the Christmas holiday (published with back-dated post dates; that’s why they look old). I’m going to try to keep up better in 2010!

  3. December 30, 2009

    Ahh, gotcha. Nothing to be ashamed of! I am, however, glad you took the time to catch up. I always enjoy your posts and photos.

  4. June 30, 2010

    When I was 16 in 1969 I was at osawatomie state hospital.Ks at the time had no place to hold juv. so you went there.I was in the old rush bid.I had a lot of fun than.I rember when a lot of baby skeltons were found in some of the tunels there.And yes the chains are still in the walls in tunnels.

  5. Red
    October 5, 2010

    To DirtBum:

    I live really close to this location and have wanted to look and around and take pictures myself. I have heard scary things about the location, and would love to see the tunnels myself. Do you need to get permission to look around and take pictures here, or is it open to the public?

  6. October 5, 2010

    Cars have to check in with security and get a pass, but there were no rules about bikes, so I just went in and rode around. No one hassled me. Of course, I wasn’t trying to get close to any of the facilities or take any people pictures.

    During a later visit, a security guard told me I was free to ride around, but photos weren’t allowed.

    It’s probably best to check with security, located at the north end of the property. I’m sure you’d need to get permission to access any interiors.

  7. Susan
    July 3, 2011

    They have repaired the fountain and it now has water in it again and looks brand new. The employees, community and some nursing students raised money to have the fountain repaired.

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