Public forum considers bridge crossing and public access to Kansas River

Shawnee County Historical Society News Release

Contact: (785) 234-6097 or shawneecountyhistory@gmail.com

Public forum considers bridge crossing and public access to Kansas River

In the process of replacing the bridge crossing the Kansas River at Willard, the Shawnee County Commission has a tremendous opportunity to provide for public access to the river and create a park to commemorative the rich heritage of the crossing. To address that situation, the Shawnee County Historical Society is sponsoring a public forum August 14, at 7 p.m., in the Citizens Potawatomi Nation Community Center, 806 Nishnabe Trail, in Rossville.

Mike Calwell, Friends of the Kaw River Access Development chairman, will discuss the process and benefits of installing access to the river. A graduate of KU, former environmental teacher and businessman, Calwell has led in the development of 15 new boat ramps on the Kansas River since 2003. He serves as the Site Development Volunteer Coordinator for the Lewis and Clark Park at Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas.

Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for Kansas, will talk about the potential benefits of heritage tourism for rural economic development. A graduate of Kansas State University, her career in the meat industry provided her with a nationwide perspective for development of her native state of Kansas. She resides with her family in rural Wabaunsee County.

This forum is the latest in a series sponsored by the Society which addressed the heritage of the area. The bridge occupies an important crossing of the river for emigrants along the Oregon and California trail from 1845 through 1860. This migration was the largest voluntary human trek in history. The settlement of Uniontown, above the current community of Willard, served migrants as well as the newly arrived Potawatomi nation to the area. Coverage of these programs is available at www.shawneecountyhistory.org

The National Parks Service National Trails System recognizes the role Uniontown played in the system with appropriate trail byway signage, but there is little at the site that tells the story of this place in migration saga. Establishing a park in the process of replacing the bridge would enhance public appreciation and engagement with the rich history of Kansas.

For more information, contact the Shawnee County Historical Society at (785) 234-6097 or shawneecountyhistory@gmail.com

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