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The Flint Hills Shelter Project

This will be of interest to some RECOILweb readers, perhaps even more so for OFFGRIDweb readers. The Flint Hills Shelter Project is an exhaustive look at nearly three hundred shelters built in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. A photographic research project by photographer Tom Parish, these Flint Hills native stone structures are essentially man-made caves, most of them predate traditional towns. They were built by homesteaders and other settlers, often before houses, barns or other structures were erected. Some of them are the only remaining evidence of towns long since vanished.

Says Parish,

“Around the Flint Hills, these structures may have served in various capacities such as root cellars, spring houses, dugouts, cold storages and storm shelters, etc., and all often shared a similar pattern of an arched roof chamber made of native stone. They came in a few basic variations: built into hillsides or raised humps on flat ground. They might have been made of dry stacked or cut and jointed stone. They could have been used as a home, or strictly for storage, or for any number of other uses, but often as many things during their life span.

Flint Hills Shelter Project 2

They were often incredibly difficult, even painstakingly hard to locate. The project has required many hours researching and doing whatever was required to find the structures, sometimes just wandering the landscape in hopes of stumbling upon them, and at other times talking to numerous people in order to find any possible leads. In the end though, more that 270 of these structures have been located, more than 225 of them have been photographed, with more than 55 photographed using the unique photographic techniques developed for this project. In addition to a new and visually stimulating representation of the structures it is also the purpose of this project to continue to uncover any history that exists about them and to discover whatever can be discovered about their uses and importance to the region of the Flint Hills.”

Some of you, particularly photographers or wouldbe explorers, will want to read the RESEARCH tab at the bottom of the page here.

Find the project online here.

Follow the research journal here.

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