Kansas Rivers -
Verdigris River -
A tributary of the
Arkansas River in
it is about 280 miles long.
It has a history dating back more than two centuries
-- mentioned by
Zebulon Montgomery Pike
during his visit to the area in 1806 and also by Thomas Nuttall in 1818. The river flows through a rich
country that in early days produced much in the way of furs. A number of
trading posts were located along its course from time to time, the most
important of which was probably that operated by a man named Hugh Glenn in
1819, located at a point about a mile above its confluence with the Arkansas River. Chief Clermont's band of
Indians was located on the stream about this time
and is mentioned by
Stephen H. Long
in his travels.
By the treaty of 1834 with the
Indians the Verdigris River was named as a part of the
boundary of their lands. The name is derived from
the French words vert, meaning "green," and gris, meaning "grey."
the Verdigris River near
David Alexander, June, 2004.
The stream has its source in several small
streams, one of which rises in eastern Chase County, one in northern
Greenwood County and two in southern Lyon County. It flows in a
southeasterly direction across Greenwood County, the extreme southwestern
corner of Woodson County, Wilson and Montgomery Counties, entering
Oklahoma almost due south of Coffeyville. From there the stream flows
through the counties of Nowata, Rogers and Wagoner,
with the Arkansas River
near the town of Wybark, about three miles from Fort Gibson. Among the more
important tributaries of the Verdigris are Willow, Homer, Sandy, Drum, Big
Hill, Pumpkin and Onion Creeks, and Paw and Fall Rivers in Kansas, and Big
Caney and Little Verdigris Rivers, Bird Creek and about two dozen smaller
Dams built by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cause the Verdigris River to form Toronto
Lake near Toronto, Kansas
and Oologah Lake near Oologah,
From just north of
to its confluence with the Arkansas River,
barge traffic is maintained on the river as part of the McClellan-Kerr
Navigation System, which consists of a series of locks and dams on both
streams and allows commercial navigation between the
area and the Mississippi River.
Wakarusa River - A tributary of the
Kansas River, the approximately 50 mile long waterway is situated in
draining an agricultural area of rolling limestone hills south of Topeka
Lawrence. It rises from several branches located southwest of Topeka, the main
branch coming from the Wabaunsee-Shawnee County line, approximately
10 miles southwest of Topeka and flowing east. The south branch rises in
eastern Wabaunsee County, approximately 15 miles southwest of Topeka and
flows northeast, joining the main branch south of Topeka. The main branch
flows generally east, flowing south of
and joins the Kansas River in Douglas County at Eudora, approximately
eight miles east of
One of the earliest mentions of the water way
Stephen H. Long,
the explorer, in 1819. The name is said to come from an Indian legend,
which says that a maiden, during a time when the stream was overflowing,
sought to cross the the waterway on horseback. As she proceeded across,
the waters became deeper and deeper, until her body was half immersed and
she exclaimed, "Wakarusa!', meaning hip deep.
Clinton Dam on the Wakarusa River near
John Charlton, courtesy Kansas Geoogical Survey.
This river was first inhabited by various
tribes, including the Kanza
in the 18th century and after the U.S. acquired this region, the
people were relocated here. The Methodist Episcopal mission was located
near the mouth of the stream in about 1842.
During the Great Migration of 1843, the fords
used for crossing this meandering river were among the many challenges
emigrant wagon trains had to master along the Fremont-Westport Trail,
which was later called the California trail during the 1849 gold rush. Also traveling
along the river were wagon trains along the
created ferry operations at river crossings in the 1850s, including Blue
Jacket's Ferry near Coal Creek at Sebastian. During the troublous times of the early
territorial days the region along the Wakarusa River was the scene of much
strife between the pro-slavery and free-state forces, the celebrated
"Wakarusa war" being fought there on November 27, 1855.
Clinton Dam, located near
was completed in 1977 to reduce seasonal spring flooding. Though this
greatly reduced the replenishment of wetlands below the dam, a remaining
tract of 600 acres, known as the the Haskell-Baker Wetlands, is located
near the Haskell Indian Nations University.
Walnut River -
Situated in southeastern
Kansas, the Walnut River has its
source in two forks which rise in the northern part of Butler County. Cole
and Durechon Creeks unite at a point about a mile southwest of the village
of Chelsea to form the waterway, which was known in the past as the "Little Verdigris River." It flows in a southwest direction past the
city of Eldorado, Augusta, and Winfield before making a turn almost due
south and emptying into the Arkansas River
south of Arkansas City in Cowley County. The river has a number of small
tributaries, the most prominent of which are the Whitewater River on the
west and the Little Walnut and Rock Creeks on the east. The river is
approximately 121 miles in length, making its way through the Flint Hills
region of Kansas. Upstream of El Dorado, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
dam causes the river to form El Dorado Lake, along which a Kansas state
park has been designated.
Whitewater River -
Also known as Whitewater Creek, the stream is
situated in southern Kansas.
The waterway rises in the southern part of Marion County about six miles
west of the village of Burns, flows south and unites with the Walnut River
at a point about a mile south of the town of Augusta in Butler County. The
stream has only one tributary of consequence -- the West Branch Whitewater
River, which has its source near the town of Walton in Harvey County, and
unites with the Whitewater a little north of the village of Towanda in
Butler County. The length of the stream is about 35 miles long. During the
1860s, a man named James R. Mead of Wichita had a ranch and trading post
on the Whitewater River, where the town of Towanda now stands. In 1868 the
Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry, while on the march to the Indian Territory,
stopped at Mead's Ranch for supplies on the evening of November 11th.
Wolf River - A tributary of the Missouri River in
northeastern Kansas, it rises in Brown County, approximately three
miles north of Powhattan. It then flows
generally eastwardly into Doniphan County, past the communities of
Robinson, Leona, and Severance. Near Severance, the river turns northward;
it flows into the Missouri River approximately eight miles southeast of
White Cloud. Throughout the years, the waterway has also been known as
Wolf Creek, Petite Riviere de Cansez, Riviere du Loup, and Shun-ta-nesh-nanga.
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated June, 2015.
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