Hidden Gem: Kansas’s Real Life Yellow Brick Road

posted in: Hidden Gems, North America, USA | 0

Yellow Brick Road in Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog

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‘The road to the city of Emeralds
is paved with yellow brick,’
said the Witch, ‘so you cannot miss it.’

<<L Frank Baum>>

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When you tell someone you’re going to Kansas, the first thing they’ll often do is ask you why. After all, it isn’t the most common holiday destination, and even some Americans refer to it as ‘one of those states you just fly over’.

The second thing they’ll often do is make some passing reference to The Wizard of Oz, usually by mentioning red shoes or the yellow brick road, or by quoting the film. Which means that for many people, walking along an actual yellow brick road will be unmissable on a trip to the Sunflower State.

Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog Kansas, USA

Sedan, Kansas is like a town out of a Western. To be more precise, it’s like a town that used to be a town in a Western, but has since had all the horse-riding gun-slinging cowboys blown out of it by a funeral procession of tumbleweed and run-down cars. It’s like a bit-part actor gone to seed, but in such a way that he still retains a sort of historic beat-up beauty – a nostalgia for what once was.

The brightly painted buildings on the main street, in places cracked and faded with the relentless sun, feel as though they’ve arrived there from a film set, as though behind their colourful facades there should be nothing but chipboard. Like so many of these towns in the mid-west, the Stars & Strips flutter over the end of the street – or more often, hang limply in the humid air. Eyes peer out from dark, air-conditioned rooms. Occasionally, a car or truck might drive through. Other than that, the streets are empty.

Go to Sedan on a weekday in the height of summer, when the thermometer’s pushing 100 Farenheit and there’s not a breath of wind in the air, and it feels like a ghost town. A very hot, humid ghost town.

Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog

And that is exactly why I love Sedan.

It’s a kind of charm that you don’t get anywhere else. As if the place has materialised from out of a book or film or TV show. Its run-down feeling of faded glory has its own class of beauty.

Of course, it also has a yellow brick road.

There are over 10,000 individual bricks in this yellow brick road, each one paid for by a person or group (including the elementary school class that my great-aunt used to teach). It runs right along both sides of the main street, past the Wizard of Oz-themed shop and cafe, filled with its models of characters from the book. It also runs past Ackarman’s Hardware Store, with its vintage style posters outside, and past the Emmett Kelly Museum. So seeing the yellow brick road is kind of unavoidable on a visit to Sedan.

Ackermans hardware store, Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog

Like nearly everything else in Sedan, the bricks have faded slightly – you can see just how much by comparing them to the few new bricks at the end of the yellow brick road (spoiler: there isn’t actually an Emerald City there). But this doesn’t detract from it, especially with the painted yellow lines on either side.

And because of the stifling heat, when you’re walking up the main street and everyone else is sheltering inside, it feels as though you have the place completely to yourself. Which means that you don’t feel too much like a tourist when you’re changing into your red shoes to take a photo:

Yellow Brick Road in Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog

Yellow Brick Road in Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog

Sedan isn’t really a place to stay overnight or plan a trip around. A couple of hours are pretty much all it takes to see the sights and soak up the atmosphere of this small prairie town.

But those couple of hours will leave a lasting impression, as if all the space of the town’s wide, hot streets are stored up inside you, waiting to warm you with your own sense of nostalgia: a bit of faded beauty, kept inside ready for a rainy day.

Yellow Brick Road, Sedan, Kansas, USA - the tea break project solo female travel blog