Pawnee Rock

On our recent trip to Kansas, we stopped at Pawnee Rock.

Back in the 1800’s, thousands of wagons heading west passed within 100 yards of Pawnee Rock. When you reached this point, it was considered midway between Independence, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The town was a ย station on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, contained a variety of stores, hotel, and an opportunity to ship grain, cattle and livestock.

The area was a popular stopping point because it allowed travelers to replenish provisions, was a sea of grass with herds of buffalo for meat, and provided an available water supply at the nearby Arkansas river.

It was also a challenging part of the Santa Fe Trail because Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Pawnee Native American Indians were known to hold councils of war and peace at this rock.

From atop the rock they could see for miles in all directions which allowed them the opportunity to ambush approaching wagon trains.

Throughout the passing years, some of the rock was chipped away and used for building foundations and railroad beds. Today, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the pavilion and be at the same level as the original rock.

The site is now administered by the Kansas Historical Society and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It also includes the grave of Pvt. Nehemiah Carson: ย “1826-1846, Pvt. Carson died of some unknown illness at this point on July 13, 1846, and was buried nearby on the following day.”

Today, if you blink while driving through the town of Pawnee Rock, you will be through it. The only remaining store downtown is a small post office, and the population in 2016 was 234.

If you are passing this way, there is a paved road that allows you to drive up and around the rock and monument, park, and walk around. Stopping gives you an opportunity to reflect on our early American history and the hardships our ancestors endured to travel west and settle this great land.

Thursday Doors this week will conclude this trip by focusing on the doors of Fort Larned where soldiers were tasked with providing safe passage for the many travelers heading west.

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About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
This entry was posted in Traveling and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Pawnee Rock

  1. KerryCan says:

    When you wrote about stagecoaches last week, I was thinking about covered wagons and how grim and grueling those trips must’ve been, too. I’m glad this stop along the way hasn’t completely been lost to history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I’ve heard the name before, but I never knew where this was. Thanks for stopping and sharing, Judy. Probably the biggest gap in my understanding of history lies between Pittsburgh and California. I’m looking forward to the doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post. I love learning about the history of how the west was settled. Whenever we travel west I can’t help but think about how brave the settlers were to travel so far through unknown lands.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m really enjoying these little slices of history, Judy. Our country, even though young, is filled with history that many don’t ever take time to learn about or that they even know exists.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joyce says:

    Your posts provide interesting “behind the scenes” color for the areas you visit. History books just gloss over them….”they traveled the Santa Fe Trail by wagon”….but you’ve shown what it really looked like and described the perils associated with the great movement westward. The scene is beautiful – and treacherous – all at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Murphy's Law says:

    This is a history lesson worth waiting for! That’s an impressive rock….but the view is breathtaking.

    Even more impressive is that this little piece of land played such a huge part in settling this country. I doubt any of those brave souls ever thought what this would mean in the future. I’m thinking they just wanted to survive to get to their destination where they could build a home, raise a family and farm their land.

    We owe them such a debt of gratitude.

    Great post Judy! Thanks for sharing your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t that amazing that even today, I could see that far into the landscape. My brother-in-law said there were zero trees at that time, and they could have seen even further. It gave me goosebumps to be there – kind of like when you visit a Civil War battlefield. Glad you enjoyed the history. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  7. Laurie Graves says:

    All news to me! A nice way to start the week. Also, “Nehemiah” is quite a name. I just might have to use it in one of my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nadezda says:

    I love history and have read this one about Native American Indian with great interest, then I looked out to the wiki. Thanks Judy, I think you have had interesting journey. Now I know more about first American settlers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. syt says:

    Thanks for another fun history lesson

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have great admiration for those early pioneers. The hardships they suffered must have been incredible. It must have been equally difficult for the native inhabitants, to see their country gradually diminish.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. germac4 says:

    Interesting details in your story Judy … When I was teaching I always found kids responded when history was made personal & with local accounts.. Yours does that… I always love a map too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great find with neat history, and lovely view! I learned something new today.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rose says:

    I have always liked to read diaries and books about the settling of America…there are so many things we take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oddment says:

    I agree that that one grave is a reminder of all the others that no one knows about. I wish you had written my history books!

    Like

  15. Joanne Sisco says:

    These are the kind of historic points that are so easy to miss. Was there a big roadside sign to alert passing drivers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a road sign but I never knew if we were talking about a stone size rock or what the significance was. We went to Fort Larned on Sunday and were in awe of the preservation effort and the history so I was all amped up to check out Pawnee Rock on our way back to Kansas City. So glad we stopped. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Very informative article!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Love these historical posts, Judy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Grandma Kc says:

    You really should have been a history teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. reocochran says:

    In my life, we spent a lot of time in either New England (Mom attended school in East Hartford, CT and my grandpa’s family came from Sweden, feeling most comfortable in Rockport, MA.) or on the Eastern seaboard traveling to see relatives in Tennessee and Florida.
    My late teenaged trip out West was on an airplane. My grandpa married his second wife so we landed in Phoenix, spent some time visiting, drove up to see the Eastern part of the Grand Canyon and then back home via plane. It was a great life but we missed a big chunk of the country! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing this sacred rock, it’s significance to the settlers heading West and the 20 year old man who died protecting those who were in the wagon trains.
    Thanks, Judy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Pawnee Rock โ€” NewEnglandGardenAndThread – Michael Jackson

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