Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Polecat Creek Stone Bridge, Butler County, Kansas

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” - Henry David Thoreau

Polecat Creek Bridge 

I come with my dog to walk the banks of Polecat creek. The Catalpa tree grows here and there with its leaves of elephant ears, but Walnut and the Elm trees loom overhead. Minnows swim in the creek and across the water skitter water striders, zig-zagging back and forth as the dog plays prances joyfully. It is quiet except for the occasional truck or car that comes roaring down the dirt road, slowing down to cross the bridge and kicking up a cloud of dust. This is a small price to pay to sit and read a book at Pole Cat Creek Bridge, a single span stone arch bridge, located five miles south of Rose Hill, Kansas then one and a half miles east on 230th street. C.C. Jamison

C.C Jamison

The bridge was built by C.C. Jamison, who in 1875,  came with his parents came from Indiana to Kansas and settled in El Dorado. Jamison became a contractor building several of the stone arch bridges of Butler County, Kansas. He built his first stone at the age of twenty-four, a 40 foot stone arch bridge, across Dry Creek, between Bruno and Augusta. History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney.

Providence, Kansas

A few hundred feet to the east, lies the ghost town of Providence, Kansas, a spa once famous for its mineral water. In 1873, a farmer dug a well and found the water strange to the taste and mineral water was discovered.

A. A. Hyde

A.A. Hyde the inventor of Mentholatum promoted the mineral water and built a hotel with ten rooms, a bath house and dining room. A general store was added across the street. Perhaps for this reason, the stone bridge was built.

The town and  hotel are documented in both the 1887 and 1905 Kansas Atlases of Butler County and Richland Township.

Kansas Atlas of 1887, Richland Township, Butler County, Providence, detail

Chisholm Trail 

I used to think of the Chishom trail as a well-worn path followed by herd after herd. Instead, the trail was like a reed blowing in the wind, following the grass where it was green and avoiding farmsteads that popped up throughout southern Kansas. Once upon a time the trail ran through Richland Township between Eight Mile and Polecat Creeks.

Old time settlers told tales that included Indians, prairie fires, and grasshopper. Read their stories in Mooney's book.

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