Kansas Rivers - Page 2
River - One of the principal tributaries of the
Neosho River, this waterway is formed by the union of two branches known as the
north and south forks. The north fork rises near the west line of Marion County
and flows southeast, crossing the east line of Marion County about 12 miles
north of the southeast corner, and thence northeast to Cottonwood Falls, in
Chase County. The south fork rises in the northwest corner of Greenwood County
and flows northward until it joins the north fork a short distance below
Cottonwood Falls. The main stream then follows an easterly course until it falls
into the Neosho River a few miles east of Emporia.
North of Cottonwood Falls is the Cottonwood Falls bridge and dam. The
first dam at this site was constructed of cottonwood logs in 1860, which
provided water power for a saw and grist mill. In 1906 the dam was
expanded and used to generate electricity. The present dam is constructed
from cut limestone which was later covered with concrete.
View of Cottonwood Falls Dam from the bridge, photo
Kansas Travel & Tourism.
The first major
bridge at Cottonwood Falls was a 150 foot long iron truss bridge
constructed in 1872. The present bridge was constructed in 1914 by the
Missouri Valley Bridge Company of
Kansas. It is one of only
three remaining reinforced masonry, earth filled arch bridges that were
designed by Daniel B. Luten and is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places today.
Cow Creek - There are actually
two waterways in
Kansas that bear the name Cow Creek, one of which rises
in the central part of Crawford County and flows southward through the
counties of Crawford and Cherokee until it empties into the Spring River
near the city of
Another and more important Cow Creek rises in the northern part of
and flows in a southeasterly direction through Rice County and to Reno
County, its waters falling into the Arkansas River
a little below the city of Hutchinson. This creek was crossed by
Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike
near the present town of Claflin on October
In 1863, "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson
opened a trading post next to Cow Creek Crossing on the
Santa Fe Trail.
His hand-dug, 34 foot deep, stone-lined well that served the U.S. Calvary
and Santa Fe Trail
travelers has been preserved at this site, which is located four miles west and one mile south of Lyons,
In the latter years of the Civil War some troubles with the
occurred along Cow Creek. For five days in July, 1864, 600 Indians
besieged a trading post near the well and a wagon train nearby. When the
attackers tried to overrun the post, "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson
fired a small cannon into the midst of
several on horseback and afoot, ending the siege.
On the evening of December 4, 1864, a small
escort of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry, with a wagon loaded with ammunition
and bound for
went camped on the bank of Cow Creek, about 15 miles east of Fort Zarah.
Soon after they settled, the
troops were attacked by a party of Indians, who crept up under cover of
the creek bank. The driver of the team and one soldier were killed, and
the others fled, three of them finally reaching
Fort Harker. Captain
Theodore Conkey of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, commanding at Fort Zarah,
sent out a party of 25 men and brought in the wagon, though about one-half
of the ammunition was damaged.
government train bound for Fort Union, New Mexico,
was attacked by Indians on Chavis
Creek on June 9, 1865. Lieutenant Jenkins,
with 60 men, hurried up from Cow Creek and followed the marauders to the
but they got away, having captured 101 mules, 3 horses and 75 cattle. Five
days later the westbound overland coach, escorted by 6 men, commanded by
Lieutenant Jenkins, was attacked a few miles west of Cow creek station.
Jenkins held on until reinforcements arrived, when he drove the Indians
the river, killing and wounding 15 without the loss of a man.
Delaware River - Also called
the Grasshopper River, it is one of the principal water courses of northeastern
and one of the major tributaries of the
Kansas River, rising
in Nemaha County about two miles west of the city of Sabetha.
At first, its course is southeast through Nemaha County, across the southwest
corner of Brown County and the northeast corner of Jackson County, until it
enters Atchison County about three miles south of the northwest corner. From
this point its course is more southerly through Atchison and Jefferson
Counties until it falls into the Kansas River nearly opposite the town of Lecompton. Its principal tributaries are
Cedar, Plum, Gregg's, Walnut, Rock, White Horse, Big and Little Slough and
Catamount Creeks, and the Little Delaware River. Its original name of
Grasshopper River, was so called due to the visitation of grasshoppers in 1874.
However, the name was unpopular and the legislature passed an act, which was
approved by Governor Osborn on Febraury 27, 1875, that changed its name to Delaware
River. The river forms Perry Reservoir, which is a major regional
lake for boating, swimming, camping, fishing and other activities. The
river itself also provide numerous opportunities for great fishing with
some of the dominant fish including catfish,
carp, longnose gar, drum, sauger, crappie, and white bass.
Old drawing of Fort Zarah.
Elk River -
picturesque stream of southeastern Kansas,
it rises in the northwest corner
of Elk County, flows in a southeasterly direction past the towns of
Western Park, Howard, Elk Falls, Longton, Oak Valley and Elk City, and
empties into the Verdigris River not far from Independence in Montgomery
County. The river is about 80 miles long. Between Elk City and
Independence, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam causes the river to form
Elk City Lake, where a state park and federal lands along the lake offer
recreation, including three National Recreation Trails.
Continued Next Page
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