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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Riverton in Cherokee County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Land's Legacy

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway

 
 
Land's Legacy Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
1. Land's Legacy Marker
Inscription.

The waters of the Spring River and its tributaries have shaped this land and its settlement.

The Spring River and the waters that feed it, such as Brush, Shoal and Short Creek, carve their way through this corner of Cherokee County. For centuries these wild waters were the dominant feature of the landscape.

Soon after the Civil War, a white settler named John Archer operated a cable ferry near Baxter Springs. He brought individual passengers and wagon teams alike across the river for 5 and 25 cent fares, respectively.

The first bridge crossed the river in 1886. Spurred by the promise of hydroelectric power, construction of a large dam commenced in 1904. The Empire District Electric District [sic] Company opened the Riverton Generation Station in 1910. The dam and the electrical plant remain in existence today. The Riverton Plant, located just south of the Byway, produces over 280 megawatts of electricity.

The discovery of lead and zinc near Galena in 1877 forever changed the fortunes of this landscape and it's inhabitants.

Large deposits of lead were accidentally found near the banks of Short Creek in the spring of 1877. Within weeks, dozens of prospectors were sinking shafts in the area. The City of Galena, was incorporated in June of that year.

That bonanza ultimately spawned an industry that

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
2. Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk
included 81 mining camps spread across three states. Between 1877 and 1950, Tri-State mineral production exceeded $1 billion and accounted for 1/2 of all domestic lead and zinc.

During its hey-day, the industry brought great prosperity to the region. The environmental degradation it wrought, however, has left a more indelible legacy. The ground that yielded those in[i]tial discoveries, just north of Galena, is today littered with piles of crushed rock and largely barren of vegetation. Known as Hell's Half Acre, this landscape is a reminder of what can result from unchecked mineral extraction.

[Photo captions read]
Empire Power Dam Falls

Located near the confluence of Spring River and Shoal Creek, this spillway is Kansas' largest man-made waterfall.

Shoal Creek
Bounded by wooded hills, limestone crags and caverns, this stream is typical of the Kansas Ozarks.

Mother Lode of the Mother Road
The Galena Historical & Mining Museum tells the stories of the minerals and the miners that made this corner of Kan[s]as an economic engine.

Schermerhorn Cave
Slicing a half-mile underneath the hills south of Galena, it is the only place in Kansas where you will find cave-dwellers like the grotto salamander.
 
Erected by USDOT Federal Highway Administration and the State of Kansas

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk Map image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
3. Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk Map
.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the U.S. Route 66 marker series.
 
Location. 37° 4.54′ N, 94° 43.039′ W. Marker is in Riverton, Kansas, in Cherokee County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 400 and State Highway 66, on the right when traveling south on U.S. 400. Touch for map. Marker kiosk is about 300 feet west of the roundabout. Marker is in this post office area: Riverton KS 66770, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bridging the American Divide (here, next to this marker); Boom Towns (here, next to this marker); Cosmopolitan Corner (here, next to this marker); Crossroads of Kansas (here, next to this marker); Baxter Springs Massacre (approx. 0.8 miles away); Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge (approx. 1.3 miles away); a different marker also named Baxter Springs Massacre (approx. 2.9 miles away); Baxter Springs Massacre 1863 (approx. 2.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riverton.
 
Also see . . .
1. Kansas' Historic Route 66 Byway. (Submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Kansas Route 66 Historic Byway on Facebook. (Submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Route 66 Travel Itinerary. (Submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. National Historic Route 66 Federation. (Submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. EnvironmentIndustry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesRoads & Vehicles
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 192 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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