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Kansas Historical Markers - C

Chase County

22. CHASE COUNTY AND THE BLUESTEM PASTURE REGION OF KANSAS

Chase County and the Bluestem Pasture Region of KansasThe vast prairie which surrounds this site is typical of the Bluestem pasture region more commonly known as the Flint Hills. Named for its predominant grasses, the area extends from Oklahoma almost to Nebraska in a narrow oval two counties wide which covers some four and a half million acres.

These pastures comprise the last large segment of true prairie which once stretched from the forests of the East to the Great Plains. Today almost a million head of cattle are fattened each year on these nutritious grazing lands. The area normally receives more cattle annually from the Southwest than did all Kansas during an average season in the colorful era of the Texas drives, 1866-1885, when herds were driven north to Kansas railheads.

In the hills 14 miles southwest of this marker Knute Rockne, famed Notre Dame football coach, was killed in an airplane crash, March 31, 1931.

US-50, Chase County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles east of Strong City
38.40112,-96.50256

94. A LANDMARK OF DISTINCTION

Cottonwood Falls has been the Chase county seat since both town and county were established in 1859. The first log cabin courthouse was replaced in 1873 by this stately building of native limestone and walnut, which today is the oldest Kansas courthouse still in use. It was designed in French Renaissance style by John G. Haskell, who was also the first architect of the statehouse in Topeka.

Prospects for Cottonwood Falls received an early setback when it was bypassed by the Santa Fe railroad in 1871. The depot, located two miles north, was first called Cottonwood but in 1881 it and the community which grew up around it were renamed Strong City.

This "twin city" situation led to one of the state's first interurban systems. Horsecar service between the two towns began in 1887 and this courthouse square was the southern terminus of the two-mile railroad. In 1918 the company converted to a gasoline-powered motor car, but the track that served well for horsecars could not handle the heavier and faster equipment. Improved technology in this instance only created difficulty, and in 1919 the interurban ceased operations.

Pearl Street, Chase County
Courthouse Square in Cottonwood Falls
38.370719,-96.54271
This marker is located along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway.

Chautauqua County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Cherokee County

49. BAXTER SPRINGS MASSACRE

On October 6, 1863, Gen. James Blunt and about 100 men were met near Baxter's springs by William Quantrill and several hundred Confederates masquerading as Union troops. As Blunt's band was preparing a musical salute the enemy fired. This surprise attack prevented organized resistance, and though Blunt escaped nine-tenths of his men were killed. The raiders also attacked Lt. James Pond and 95 men encamped at the springs. This force was likewise caught off guard but resisted until the enemy retired. These battle sites are in present Baxter Springs. Some of the victims are buried in the national cemetery one mile west of town.

Baxter Springs was established in 1866 on the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Gibson military road. For several years it was important as a trading center for Texas cattle.

US-69 Alternate, Cherokee County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles north of Baxter Springs
37.033027,-94.73471
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.

Cheyenne County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Clark County

77. BIG BASIN

This marker stands within a geologic feature known as the Big Basin, which is a sinkhole or "sink" about a mile in diameter and more than a hundred feet deep. Although it has the appearance of a valley, it is entirely surrounded by higher ground. Like several other smaller sinks in this section of Kansas, Big Basin was formed thousands of years ago by the dissolving and collapse of massive gypsum and salt formations lying several hundred feet below the surface.

Just beyond the east rim of Big Basin is a smaller sink known as Little Basin. It contains "St. Jacob's Well," a pool of water never known to have gone dry. Archeological finds indicate that St. Jacob's Well has attracted visitors for many centuries, beginning with prehistoric peoples and continuing into the early days of European settlement.

Although located on the eastern edge of the High Plains, Big Basin and Little Basin exhibit the physical characteristics of the Red Hills region located a short distance to the south and east, where rock formations of white gypsum and gray dolomite alternate with brick-red shales, siltstones, and sandstones to create a visually striking butte-and-mesa topography unlike any other in Kansas.

US-283, Clark County
15 miles south of Minneola, 3 miles south of US-160 junction
37.23959,-100.00031

Clay County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Cloud County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Coffey County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Comanche County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.

Cowley County

59. THE GAS THAT WOULDN'T BURN

Natural gas in this locality was first found in 1903 at Dexter, five miles north. The town, envisioning a prosperous future, advertised its discovery far and wide. Crowds gathered to see the well fired, then watched in dismay as the roaring gas blew out every flame brought near it. For two years it was scornfully called "wind gas". Then analysis revealed that it contained almost two per cent helium.

This primary discovery of helium in natural gas is credited to Professors H. P. Cady and D. F. McFarland of the University of Kansas. Helium was first used in balloons during World War I. For a few years, beginning in 1927, a privately owned commercial plant at Dexter supplied gas for Navy dirigibles. Later valuable uses developed in industry. In the 1950's, demand soared when helium became essential to the operation of nuclear reactors and ballistic missiles. Though Dexter's well no longer produces, the torch that wouldn't burn lighted the way to a multi-million dollar industry.

US-166, Cowley County
Roadside turnout, 12 miles west of Cedar Vale at K-15 junction
37.110601,-96.643606

60. CHEROKEE OUTLET

The Cherokee Outlet or Strip south of here was opened to a land rush in 1893. This tract of land was 60 miles wide and stretched along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Due to a surveying error, a two-mile strip lay north of the Kansas border. The land had been the property of the Cherokees since 1836. As a result of the Cherokee Nation’s support of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the Cherokees were persuaded by Congress to eventually cede more than 8 million acres to the U.S. government for about $1 an acre, making the Cherokee Strip available to settlers.

Every eligible settler who could stake a claim would receive a quarter section or a town lot. Finally on September 16, 1893, more than 100,000 people lined the border awaiting the pistol shots that began the nation’s last great land rush. Competitors walked, rode bicycles and horses, and drove cabs, covered wagons, and buggies. By nightfall papers had been filed on dozens of new town sites, homesteads, and ranches.

Note: This sign will be replaced in 2012.

US-77, Cowley County
Roadside turnout, south of Arkansas City
37.040478,-97.038835

Crawford County

3. THE LEGEND OF GREENBUSH

According to legend, in 1869, Father Phillip Colleton was caught at this site by a furious hail and thunderstorm. The frightened priest took refuge under his saddle and vowed that if his life was spared, he would build a church on this spot. The fervent promise resulted in the establishment of St. Aloysius, Greenbush. The first Catholic Church erected in Crawford County was a wooden frame structure completed in 1871. Located on the Historic "Mission Road", the church was destroyed by a storm in 1877. Parishoners quarried limestone from Hickory Creek and completed the second church in 1881. The first resident pastor, Father F. M. Verdan, arrived in 1882 and served the church for fifty years. A larger church was needed and completed in 1907. The 1881 church was converted into a community building. The third church stood for 75 years as a landmark before it was struck by lightning and burned in 1982. The ruins remain. The 1881 church was renovated into a place of worship. Thus the second church became the fourth church on March 9, 1986 and served the people until it closed in 1993. Father Colleton's promise will continue.

K-57, Crawford County
6.7 miles west of Girard at the site of the church
37.514065,-94.981914