gardens of revelation ii 2

The Garden of Eden, of Lucas, Kansas, is one of the most evocative roadside attractions in the U.S.

Built in 1907 by Civil War Veteran Sam Dinsmoor, it is also the country’s oldest intact folk art complex.  At times called Visionary or Outsider art, it displays an elaborate set of editorial cartoons in cement, or “modern civilization as I see it,” according to Dinsmoor.  But then he also warns, “I am bughouse, good and proper, but not on religion, perpetual motion or any other fool thing that I cannot find out one thing about.”

I visited one November afternoon not long ago, having driven 500+ miles out of my way.  Who, then, is more “bughouse”?  It was more than worth the drive.

(These detours were inspired by John Beardsley’s wonderful Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists, covering 25 such environments world-wide, a majority in the U.S.  While not situated close to the geographic borderlands, I decided that such artistic and spiritual creations are so far out of the mainstream, they reside in borderlands of the mind.  Truly, outsider art.)

The website bio reads:

“Samuel Perry Dinsmoor was born on March 8, 1843, in Ohio.  He served in the Civil War as a nurse in the Union Army.  After the war, Dinsmoor returned to Ohio and soon joined the Masonic Lodge.  Joining this organization was a significant development in his philosophical outlook on life…”

Quotations are from “Pictorial History of The Cabin Home in Garden of Eden” by S.P. Dinsmoor, reprinted by Friends of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, 2002

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit

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