Page images
PDF
EPUB

state, except in some instances where rivers have changed their beds, leaving small lakes. Water courses are well distributed over the state. Their usual course is south of east. Among the most important streams may be mentioned the Arkansas and Neosho on the south, the Kansas river and its tributaries in the northern part, and the Missouri river forming the eastern boundary. The descent of the Kansas river may be regarded as showing the rapidity of the water courses of the state. From its mouth, west 100 miles, the fall is a little over two feet to the mile ; for the second and third hundred miles, about six feet to the mile; and for the last one hundred miles, about seven feet to the mile; making a total fall of over 2,000 feet in 400 miles. Water powers are not abundant, but several are being improved on the Neosho and other smaller streams.

A report, recently published under the authority of the state, thus speaks of the rivers of Kansas : “The Kansas river is the largest in the state, and one of the most beautiful streams of water in the west. It is formed by the junction of the Republican and Smoky . IIill, near Junction City, in the central part of the state, and flows in an easterly district for a distance of 150 miles, through a rich fertile valley, from three to seven miles in width, and empties into the Missouri river at Wyandotte City, the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Republican river comes down from Colorado, through the norhwestern part of the state, coursing in a southeasterly direction through a rich, wild region of country, for a distance of over 300 miles. The Smoky Hill derives its source from the confluence of several smaller streams in the eastern part of Colorado, and flows to the east through the central part of the state, to its junction with the Republican. Along the rich valley of this river, a daily line of stage coaches pass from the western terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad to Denver City. The Neosho river rises near the centre of the state, and flows to the southeast through a rich agricultural and stock growing country, emptying into Grand river near the southeast corner of Kansas. The Neosho valley is from three to seven miles in width, and contains some of the most beautiful, rich and desirable lands in the state. The Arkansas river, collecting the snows of the Rocky Mountains, flows

in an ea sterly direction through the southwestern part of the state, for a distance of 300 miles. The great Nemaha rises in the northcentral part of the state, and flows east, emptying into the Missouri river at the northeast corner of the state. There is a sufficiency of timber on its banks for all practical purposes in the country through which it passes. The Osage courses through a fine region of country in southern Kansas, about midway between the valleys of the Kansas and Neosho. The Pottawattomie and other smaller streams flow into the Osage. The valleys of these rivers contain some of the most valuable farms in the state. The Dig Blue, from Nebraska territory, flows to the south, through the northcentral part of the state, emptying into the Kansas river at the city of Manhattan. The Solomon rises in the northwestern part of the state, flows in a southeasterly direction, and empties into the Smoky IIill, about 30 miles west from Junction City. The source and general direction of the Verdigris, Cottonwood, Grasshopper, Grand, Saline, and all other Kansas rivers, may be seen by referring to Ream's Map of Kansas. In addition to the above is the Missouri river, which washes the eastern shore of the state for a distance of over 100 miles. This river, navigable at all times, is a source of great value to the state, and especially to Leavenworth, Atchison, Wyandotte, White Cloud, Doniphan, and other cities that stand on its banks. It is impossible to draw a line of distinction between different localities, the whole state being supplied with an abundance of pure, clear cold water. Besides the clear running streams and cool, refreshing springs in the different localities, the best quality of water is also obtained by digging wells on the high prairies — ranging from 10 to 30 feet in depth."

Minerals," says Dr. Wayne Griswold, “are abundant, especially stone, coal, salt, and gypsum. The soil is almost universally rich, especially in all the eastern part of the state for two hundred miles up. It produces immense native crops of prairie grass, and, as far as it has been cultivated, it equals any state in the Union for the production of fruit, vegetables, and grain of all kinds. On her various streams are numerous water powers which, at some future day, will move a vast amount of machinery. If we take two hundred miles square of the eastern part of Kansas, compris

ing forty thousand square miles, or over twenty-five million acres of land, it will surpass any equal amount of continuous territory on the globe. In all this vast body of land there is little but what is good. All the choicest gifts which nature bestows in land, to make a country desirable for homes, for the production of wealth, and all the comforts of life are found here. Beyond, in Western Kansas, vast prairies, clothed with buffalo grass, stretch out for hundreds of miles, where vast herds of buffalo and wild horses roam undisturbed except by the crack of the rifle or the shrill whistle of the locomotive. All of these far-stretching prairies are interspersed with streams of various sizes, some extending for hundreds of miles, lined with timber and rich valley land. Various minerals of great value sleep undisturbed under this vast territory."

The climate is beautiful and is becoming more and more attrac. tive. The winters are exceedingly short, but little snow falling. The spring sets in about the first of March and "soon after the prairies begin to glitter with a profusion of beautiful wild flowers."

In addition to the above, we compile the following sketch of the resources of Kansas, from a little work by 0. C. Hutchinson, Esq., entitled " Resources of Kansas : "

"The water of springs and wells in this state is pure and good. There are small isolated tracts, embracing two or three farms each, where good clear water is not easily obtained by digging; but the settlers here, like the settlers upon large tracts of country in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, where the well water is uniformly turbid and unpalatable to the taste, must drink rain water caught in cisterns. This is healthful, and by use becomes agreeable. It is probable that on some of the high divides between streams in the western portion of the state, it may not be easy to find water by digging. In fact, the Kansas Pacific Railroad failed to obtain water by digging at two or three of their stations near the western state line; but of the many emigrants, buffalo hunters and others who have traversed all the western portion of the state, none say that they have much difficulty in finding water, either flowing from springs or by digging a few feet in favorable localities. It is a peculiarity of some streams in the extreme western portion of the

state, that they suddenly sink into quick sands, and appear again a few miles below.

"One of the first things for a settler to do here, as in any country, is to provide good pure water. Dig a well at once, unless you are near a spring, and do not drink surface or creek water. This custom of western settlers, I believe to be the cause of more sickness than any other, or perhaps all other bad habits or unnecessary exposures of western life. Of all the eastern half of the state, a tract of country two hundred miles square, and — if we except the inhabitable portions of Maine ---- as large as all New England, it can be truthfully stated that it is abundantly watered with springs and streams for stock purposes, and that clear, healthful drinking water is universally obtained from springs, or by digging from twenty to sixty feet. It is a peculiarity of the country, that water is often found upon the high prairies at a less depth than on the low lands. The water here is not, as in other western states, uniformly hard. Settlers can locate where they may have soft or freestone water if they prefer, as in a small portion of the state the sandstone formation predominates, which furnishes soft water.

"All the streams in the settled portion of the state are larger than when the country was new, and many brooks and creeks flow continuously, which were formerly dry several months in • each year. Not only is this well known to all early settlers, but there are thousands of springs on the prairies where was formerly no indication of one. This phenomenon is owing to causes which we have more fully alluded to under the head of climatic changes.

"The editor of the Chicago Railway Review, spent several weeks of 1870, in a thorough examination of Kansas, as he had previously examined the other western states. In his paper of October 27, 1870, he says: “The readers of our previous articles must be convinced that eastern Kansas is anything but a region destitute of streams. No country in the world is better watered."

" In the early settlement of the country, all the principal roads were laid out on the divides, winding about between the sources of the streams, because bridges could not at once be erected, and roads cut through the timber growing on their banks. From this fact many early travelers in Kansas, following the principal roads, con

cluded that there were few streams in the country. The railroads, however, take a direct course across the country, and bridging is an expensive part of the work. A report of the bridge contractors of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad, was published in the Ottowa Journal of December 16, 1870, and this j'eport shows that in a distance of one hundred eight and one-half miles south from Lawrence to Thayer, there were constructed sixty-seven tridges and trestles (besides culverts), being nearly one to every mile and half of the road. More than three million feet of timber was used in the construction of these bridges and trestles. A glance at the map will show that this railroad does not follow the windings of one or two streams. The line is di- . rectly across the country over divides from the Kansas river to the Marais des Cygnes, thence to the Pottawattomie and thence to the Neosho. A few trestles are reported as over unimportant ravines, in which probably there is not a constant stream of water flowing, but the general evidence of this report is, that Kansas railroads are pretty well bridged for a country "destitute of stock water," as she has been reported to be.

“In the eastern half of Kansas there is a sufficiency of timber for practical purposes. It is found along the streams and in adjacent ravines, sheltered from the ravages of prairie fires by high rockcapped bluffs. The following is a list of the trees and shrubs of this state, prepared by Dr. C. A. Logan for a state document on the sanitary relations of Kansas :

“ White oak, red oak, burr oak, black oak, black jack oak, water oak, white or American elm, red or slippery elm, black walnut, white walnut or butternut, cottonwood, box elder, hackberry, honey locust, willow, shell bark hickory, pig nut hickory, pecan nut hickory, sycamore, white ash, sugar maple, red mulberry, linden or basswood, crab apple, wild cherry, coffee tree.

"Of shurbs and vines he gives elder, sumac, green brier gooseberry, hazel, pawpaw, prickly, ash, raspberry, blackberry, prairie rose, and grapes of several varieties.

“The streams, with their attendant timber belts, varying in width from two or three to as many miles, so cut the prairies in every direction that few farms of eastern Kansas are more than

« PreviousContinue »