Cool Things - Wolf Creek Logo
"Dust flies and the earth trembles as man and nature collide in America's quest for energy. Here, man is building a nuclear power plant."
--Fort Scott Tribune, May 21, 1977
The Wolf Creek Generating Station logo is a synthesis of man and nature. Its Native American designer used symbolism and mythology to link nuclear technology to the Kansas landscape.
Planning for Kansas' first, and only, nuclear plant began in the late 1960s amidst petroleum shortages. Wolf Creek's construction was a joint venture between two utility companies, Kansas City Power and Light (KCPE) and the Wichita-based Kansas Gas and Electric (KG&E). The plant's Burlington site was selected for its centrality and remoteness from major urban areas. Nearby Redmond Reservoir provided a source for filling the plant's required 5,000-acre cooling lake. Intended to meet a growing energy demand, the 1,100-megawatt nuclear plant provided an alternative to fossil fuels. Kansas' utilities envisioned nuclear technology providing a renewable clean-burning energy source that would meet increased environmental standards.
Not all Kansans shared the utilities' vision. Opposition to the plant's fuel source and land acquisition process appeared early. The construction effort was massive, requiring a workforce of 4,000 and the acquisition of thousands of acres of farmland. For many, the concept of nuclear power was reminiscent of the atomic bombs used in World War II. Environmental groups saw the plant's disaster potential as a threat to human populations and local landscape. The nuclear debate spiked following the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant in Pennsylvania. A year later Kansas protestors attempted to block the rail delivery of Wolf Creek's 380-ton nuclear reactor. The debate received national publicity as it gained momentum. Though periodically delayed by protests and legal hearings, the plant was completed and became operational in 1985.
In designing the Wolf Creek insignia in 1980, Native American artist Blackbear Bosin hoped to focus on the plant's positive role. The central image of a wolf represents a great provider that lived in harmony with the environment; for Bosin, the plant performed the same function. The blue band encircling the wolf's head symbolizes water, referencing the cooling lake surrounding the plant. In the background Bosin has placed the Sirius Star, which the Greeks associated with summer heat; to the artist, Sirius also symbolized the heat produced by the plant's nuclear engine.
Descended from Kiowa-Comanche heritage, Blackbear Bosin was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma, in 1921. After serving in World War II, he moved to Wichita and worked as an illustrator for Boeing Aircraft. Recognized for working in multiple mediums, Bosin was best known for sculpting the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot statue commissioned by KG&E and placed in downtown Wichita.
The artist's inscription on this print reads:
May you walk always
Its dedication is interesting because Carlin, who was elected governor midway through the plant's construction, opposed Wolf Creek's development. Governor Carlin gave this print to the Kansas Historical Society in 1981; it is in the collections of the Society's Kansas Museum of History.
Learn more about Blackbear Bosin by visiting the Mid-America All Indian Center.
Entry: Cool Things - Wolf Creek Logo
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2006
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.