Monday, January 7, 2013

Stone Bridges of Butler County

In the dawn of the era when civilization, pressing westward, entered claim for its own, man, urged by his ambition and inspired by his imagination, stood upon an elevation and beheld the plains primeval. There in the unhindered scope of his vision boundless rolling ranges stretched to endless skies ; peaceful, restful hills and valleys lay in dreamy, sensuous slumber; timber edged streams wound up and down ; unchained, unclaimed, unknown. Prairies of promise. Stretches of possibilities.
History of Butler County by Vol. P Mooney, 1916. Chapter V, page 96.

Ellis and 140th
Tour Butler County

You can link to a list of the stone bridges of Butler County compiled by Tour Butler County.

[Note. The first bridge should direct you east of Haverhill Rd..]


Butler County, on the southern fringe of the Flint Hills, has numerous rivers and creeks, including the Walnut, the Little Walnut, the Whitewater, and the Clearwater, to mention a few. Many creeks were passable by wagon in low water, but during spring rains it was necessary to construct bridges to connect roads and farms.

Butler County 1885 McGinnis Atlas of Butler County

There are perhaps less than a dozen bridges still standing in number. The fact that they survived is due both to the construction and the isolation of these bridges from main traffic routes. They were constructed over a period of 15 years, beginning in 1897, and ending around 1912. Thereafter, iron truss bridges became common place, both because of cost and strength.

Construction material was Kansas limestone and concrete. The arches are generally 20 to 30 feet in expanse. The bridges follow the typical pattern of an arch bridge with a keystone supporting the structure. Some of the bridges have a rounded arch, but some use a more oblique arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its load horizontally. The bridge and its load are held in place by compression and restrained by the abutments at either side.

Three builders are given credit for the majority of stone bridges built, C.C. Jamison, A. Methany, and Walter Sharp. Presently, only one bridge is listed on the Historical Register in Butler County. This is the the Pole Cat Creek Bridge, 1910, built by C. C. Jamison.

Ellis at 140th St.

Bridge #10 on the list of bridges compiled by Tour Butler Count. Built in 1905, this bridge over the Little Walnut has an arch of 40 feet.The builders name is not known.

Ellis at 140th St. South
More History of Butler County

Butler County Kansas was opened to homesteaders after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln after the start of the Civil War, allowed any citizen or intended citizen to claim 160 acres, one quarter square mile, by building a dwelling and improving the land over a period of 5 years.The first areas to be settled were the northeastern area of Kansas territory. Much of the souteastern portion of the Kansas territory was reserved for various Indian tribes.The continuing cloud of title to land as a result of  the Osage Indian Reserve made most of the early settlers in Butler County squatters in Indian territory.

Early settlements were made at El Dorado and Chelsea in 1857 and Towanda in 1858, and in scattered other locations. The first acknowledged settler of  Butler county was William Hildebrande, who came in May of 1857 to El Dorado Township. He settled of the bend of the Walnut River one and one half miles south of present El Dorado where the Walnut intersects the old California Trail. See USD375.

By an act of Congress on July 15, 1870, the remainder of the Osage land in Kansas was order to be sold and the tribe relocated to Indian Territory in the Cherokee Outlet of Oklahoma. See OsageTribe. It was after this that settlement began in earnest and homesteaders rushed in to get their 160 acres of land. As part of the treaty, the homesteaders were required to pay $1.25 an acre, which was to be used ion helping the Osage Indians to relocate in Oklahoma.

More Stone Bridges of Kansas

A list of 32 masonary bridges compiled by the Kansas Department of Highways. This list is incomplete, listing only the Polecat Creek Bridge, 5 miles west and 2 miles south of Douglass, and the Muddy Creek Bridge, 3 miles east and 1 mile north of Douglass.


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