Some facts related to Prairie Depot

My novel Nearly Canaan starts off in a railroad crossing called Prairie Depot. It’s imaginary, of course, a blend of several small cities I’ve encountered. But, for the record, let’s say this.

  1. It was a dozen or so miles from the nearest Interstate Highway.
  2. It sat in what had been the Great Black Swamp that covered roughly 1,500 square miles before being drained to open up some of the best farmland in the world … and some of the flattest, stretching for miles.
  3. There really were some surviving patches of original prairie nearby, as well as new reservations harboring restoration. The ecosystem had reached westward to the Rocky Mountains, especially in a broad swath through much of the Midwest.
  4. Five different railroads once interconnected in the town. It could lead to frequent delays for drivers and pedestrians alike, as well as interrupted sleep.
  5. It was also a good place for grain elevator dealers to ship from.
  6. The real center of town was a small restaurant owned and operated by two brothers and their wives.Back to the novel!
  7. The town library had a translucent marble exterior wall and a fine collection, thanks to a resourceful director who managed to deflect criticism. He could be a fictional character all in his own.
  8. The region was the scene of a big oil boom, back in the early 1900s. Petroleum was still being pumped at the time of the novel, on a smaller scale, though the grade was lower grade than the market desired.
  9. The place was best known for its collectible glass, before the company relocated to West Virginia, where the name lives on, if not the quality, at least in the estimation of some.
  10. The most celebrated resident dwelt quietly on a shaded side street, her secrecy preserved by the locals, even though she was rumored to have been gangster Al Capone’s mistress. Yes, the one.
The astringent Greek Temple Revival appearance of Omar Chapel, in Seneca County, Ohio, not far from the prompt for Prairie Depot in my novel Nearly Canaan, continues to haunt me. It says so much about the dreams of its benefactor, out on what was then still frontier.


3 thoughts on “Some facts related to Prairie Depot

  1. Reading your stuff always takes me away, which is a good thing sometimes. My fictional towns are still in my brain-cabinet, hoping to eventually realize. someday….someday…I’ve been saying that forever. whine…

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