Origins of The Falcon Dirk–Part One


The Shine - Galena

Main Street in Galena KS looking south from 4t...
Image via Wikipedia

I set the heart of The Falcon Dirk in the small town of Galena, Kansas because it was my hometown. From the time I thought about writing a novel–which was a long time ago–I thought about including that town. It was more about paying homage to my roots than anything, but the interesting history surrounding the old mining town provided good bones for a story. I think it will not be the last time it will appear in my writing.

Galena sprang up out of the gently rolling vastness of southeast Kansas to become a mining boom town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The rich veins of galena (the chief ore in lead) and zinc drew prospectors and opportunists from the hills and plains to seek their fortune by carving holes into the flinty landscape and grinding out the important minerals. There was a lot of wealth and a lot of destruction created then, both to the landscape and to the lives of many associated with the mining process. The town was known in those days for its frontier roughness. As with many boom towns, the real boom came to those industrious individuals and companies in their pursuit of relieving the miners of their hard earned cash once they had been paid. Gun play was so common that it was said there was almost as much lead being shot into the miners as they were able to dig out of the ground.

When I was growing up there, the boom had long since gone bust. The population and most commerce had dwindled, but not the number of mine shafts and chat piles. There are other stories to be told of those holes and hills, but another time. The town was and is small. It sits on a piece of the iconic Route 66, affectionately called the Mother Road. There is really very little to commend the town as a setting for a novel, but it is well suited for this book. The memories I have of the town and it’s people provided a springboard into the story and characters.

They used to refer to galena ore in the flint rock as “the Shine” because the hard surface of the dark gray lead ore reflected the light like black glass. The town of Galena was built on and known for the Shine. For me, basing my novel on my hometown was a way to give it back a little shine of its own.

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