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Kansas Historical Markers - B

Barber County


Carry A. Nation, the militant crusader against illegal saloons, launched her career of saloon-smashing in Kiowa. She and her followers in Medicine Lodge, her home town, had closed the local saloons by holding prayer meetings on their premises and displays of force. However, as the Women's Christian Temperance Unions jail evangelist, she found as many drunks as ever in the county jail. These men named Kiowa as their source of supply.

A voice spoke to Carry, telling her to go to Kiowa and smash the saloons. On June 1, 1900, she attacked three "joints" in Kiowa, using stones, brickbats, full malt bottles, and one billiard ball as ammunition. Carry's attack surprised local officials, but because of the fact that the operation of such "joints" was illegal she was not jailed as she would be later in other communities. She did not adopt the use of her now famous hatchet until her visit to Wichita some six months later.

The Kiowa attack quickly received national attention and instigated great debate even among the temperance organizations. Carry Nation spent the remainder of her life in the crusade against the liquor interests and lecturing on prohibition. She died June 9, 1911.

K-8, Barber County
South edge of Kiowa


At Medicine Lodge Creek in 1867, as many as 15,000 Apaches, Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos, and Cheyennes gathered with a seven-member peace commission escorted by U.S. soldiersto conduct one of the nation’s largest peace councils. The American Indian nations selected this traditional ceremonial site for the nearly two-week council. Chiefs Satanta, Little Raven, and Black Kettle gave speeches, held ceremonies, and entered negotiations. They produced three treaties that reduced the size of each of their lands and allowed for the construction of railroads and eventual settlement.

I come to say that the Kiowas and Comanches have made with you a peace, and they intend to keep it. If it brings prosperity to us, we of course will like it the better.—Satanta, Kiowa chief

Some chiefs signed the treaties without popular support; others misunderstood the agreements and later renounced them. When the agreements failed, the government responded with force. Thirteen months later Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle died in an attack by the Seventh Cavalry at Washita Creek, Oklahoma.

Note: This sign will be replaced in 2012.

US-160, Barber County
Memorial Place Park
1 mile east of Medicine Lodge

Barton County


To protect commerce on the Santa Fe Trail, the U.S. government established a line of forts from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Dodge. Fort Zarah, built here along Walnut Creek in 1863, was initially made of dugouts and tents. The fort’s two-story octagonal blockhouse was built in 1865 with stone quarried from nearby bluffs. The fort was abandoned in April 1866 then reopened two months later.

Fort Zarah hosted a council with Plains tribes in November 1866 as the U.S. continued to secure lands from the Indians. That year had seen fewer battles, but more conflicts would occur the year after the council.

We made peace on the North Fork of the Platte. We have kept it. Every time we meet the whites in council, they have new men to talk to us. They have new roads to open. We do not like it.—Woqini, or Roman Nose, Cheyenne warrior society, 1866

With trail traffic shifting to rail traffic, the fort was no longer needed and closed in December 1869.

Note: This sign will be replaced in 2012.

US-56, Barton County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile east of Great Bend


We first rode nearly north about a mile to a remarkable Rocky Point . . .We rode upon the top which is probably 50 feet above the plain below, and from whence there is a charming view of the country in every direction.—George Sibley, 1825

Pawnee Rock made an impact on Santa Fe Trail travelers, who referenced the Dakota Sandstone outcropping in their journals.

Pawnee Rock was covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full that I could find no place for mine.— John Birch, 1848

Located at the halfway point on the Santa Fe Trail, many stories have been told to explain how this “prairie citadel” earned its name. Once reaching a height of perhaps 100 feet or more, a large portion of the rock was stripped away for railroad bed material.

The Woman's Kansas Day Club led a campaign to save what remained of the rock. It is now preserved as a State Historic Site.

Note: This sign will be replaced in 2012.

U.S. 56, Barton County, roadside park, west of Pawnee Rock.

See Pawnee Rock State Historic Site

Bourbon County


This western outpost, named for General Winfield Scott, was established by U. S. Dragoons in 1842. The fort was located on the military road that marked the "permanent Indian frontier" stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana and stood about midway between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Gibson. By 1853 the Indian frontier had moved west and troops were withdrawn. Two years later the buildings were sold at auction, and the city of Fort Scott grew up around them.

From 1855 to 1860 this area stood at the heart of the territorial struggle over slavery, and in 1858 the town was raided by Jayhawkers attempting to free one of their members from jail. One local resident was killed. With the onset of the Civil War, Fort Scott was reactivated to serve as the Union headquarters and supply depot for southeast Kansas. The town was threatened by Confederate guerillas from Missouri until 1865. After the war ended, the post was abandoned.

In 1869 the army returned , headquartering troops in Fort Scott to protect railroad construction in southeast Kansas. In 1873 the post was abandoned. The restored fort is now a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service.

Bourbon County
National Avenue across from Fort Scott National Historic Site
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.

Brown County


At this site the first power pole for the Brown-Atchison Electric Cooperative was dedicated in special ceremony on November 10, 1937. Brown-Atchison was the first rural electric project to energize in Kansas financed by loans from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). On April 1, 1938, central-station electricity generated at the Horton Power Plant was sent into the first section of lines to farms in Brown and Atchison counties, signaling an end to darkness and drudgery for rural people. Thirty-eight other electric cooperatives followed in Kansas to deliver the wonders of electricity into every rural area of the state. Rural electrification became known as the best "hired hand" the farmer/rancher could have. Few other occurrences have impacted so positively on rural areas as has the rural electrification program.

This marker is dedicated to all the rural electric cooperative pioneers in Kansas who proved that working together for their own and the common good, produces a better life for themselves and their neighbors.

US-73, Brown County
Roadside turnout, east of Horton

Butler County


This is one of the largest parcels of native grassland in Kansas. It is known popularly as the Flint Hills or the Bluestem prairies. For many centuries it belonged to the American Indians. Millions of buffalo, elk, antelope, coyote, eagles, and other animals roamed these prairies.

After the Civil War, settlers converted much of this area into cropland. About 4.5 million acres escaped the plow because their grasses were so valuable for grazing. Cattlemen fattened their steers on these pastures just before reaching the Kansas City stockyards. Railroads routed their tracks through here to attract cattle-shipping traffic, and by the mid-20th century more than a half million head were turned loose here each summer.

In 1996 the federal government created the 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, about 20 miles north of here.

Note: This sign will be replaced in 2012.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Butler County
Milepost 96, Matfield Green service area


Towanda Historical MarkerThe town and township lie tucked in the pleasant valley of the Whitewater River, and take their name from the Osage Indian term "many waters." First settler was C. L. Chandler, a returning '49er from the California gold fields who built his cabin in 1858. Towanda township was one of the first four in the makeup of Butler County--the largest in Kansas.

In 1870, Rev. Isaac Mooney, frontier preacher and community builder, platted ten acres for a townsite. The village quickly became a trade center on the Emporia-Wichita wagon road and a division point for two stage lines. Towanda gained wide fame in 1919, when giant oil gushers were drilled on rockey Shumway land at the town's eastern doorstep by Gypsy Oil Company and the Trapshooters group.

Close neighbor is El Dorado, the county seat on the east, since pioneer days a prime adjunct to the Flint Hills cattle country and for more than 50 years the focal point of vast petroleum development in south-central Kansas. Its largest industries are modern oil refineries of Skelly Oil Company and American Petrofina, while the Butler County Community Junior College tops its cultural institutions.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Butler County
Milepost 76, Towanda service area