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Healing Waters: the Legend of Waconda Springs


category : Indian Heritage
Healing Waters: the Legend of Waconda Springs Waconda Springs for centuries inspired wonder among its visitors. Both Indians and whites marveled at Kansas' largest saltwater spring. The diameter at the base is 300 feet. Waconda is a deep-seated spring, the source of its supply being the saliferous shale immediately overlaying the Dakota sandstone which in this section is 600 to 800 feet below the surface. Samuel C. Pomeroy, on a tour of the Solomon River valley in 1870, called Waconda Springs "a most wonderful and marvelous sight".

"At first i declared it the Crater of an Ancient Volcano," Pomeroy wrote. The Water occupying its hollow center is fathomless, and about 200 feet in diameter in a perfect circle! It is always brimming full and running over on all sides... The hills about it were as sacred to the Indians as those about Jerusalem."

Many Plains Indians regarded springs as the dwelling place of supernatural powers. The Kansas name for Waconda Springs meant "spirit water". Indians of several tribes made pilgrimages to the spot, tossing beads, weapons, blankets, and other offerings to Waconda's waters.

The Pawnee recognized a dozen sacred places in Nebraska and Kansas. Nearly all were associated with water and known as "holy ground". Waconda Springs was thought to mark the location of an underwater lodge where animals of many species gathered and held council.

"Animals, while not gods, were a medium through which Pawnee individuals could acquire knowledge and power," explained historian Rita Napier. "The goal of Pawnee life was to increase one's power in order to live in complete accord with the laws of the universe."

Through a dream of vision, a fortunate Pawnee might visit the lodge beneath Waconda Springs. There the animals would teach them skills such as performing magic, hypnotism, or, most often, the healing of wounds and disease. Pawnee medicine societies traced their origins to such visits, and their ceremonies included smoke-offerings to Waconda Springs.

Kansas' early white settlers attributed medicinal properties to the state's many mineral springs. Senator Pomeroy seized on Waconda's commercial potential, predicting that a health resort of "towering magnificence" would arise. In 1884, developers fenced the spring and constructed a luxury hotel nearby.

The hotel became a sanitarium and spa in 1906. For over a half century patients came to "take the cure" at Waconda Springs. The mineral water was said to relieve a host of ailments from rheumatism to hemorrhoids, insomnia, and discolored skin.

A diver on the 4th of July, 1906, went down as far as possible, finding no bottom to the dark blue water which never froze in winter. Rain or drought never affected its calm and indifferent tranquillity. Many people today say the water rose and fell with the ocean tides.

But these virtues were overshadowed by the goal of controlling Kansas' water supply. In 1944, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation announced its plans to dam the Solomon River at Glen Elder -- and inundate Waconda Springs. In 1970, the waters of Waconda Lake closed over the famous spring.


Come visit us in Beloit, Kansas

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Mitchell County Courthouse

Built in 1901 for a total of $38,310. of 8" pitchfaced native limestone, of Richardsonian Romanesque design. The Seth Thomas four-faced clock in the courthouse tower was installed in 1904 and paid for by donations. Originally run by hand, the clock was electrified in 1950. Of the 25 rooms on 3

Beloit, KS Historic Courthouses

St. John's Catholic Church

A structure built of native limestone completed in 1904 in the form of a Latin Cross of Romanesque and Gothic style. It was the first church built in the United States with flying buttresses and an entire stone ceiling. The twin towers are 100' tall, 108' including the crosses adorning each tower.

Beloit, KS Historic Churches

Beloit Golf Course

9-Hole golf course with grass greens, putting green, driving range, rental carts, cart shed, golf shop and clubhouse with snack bar and restaurant.

Beloit, KS Golf Courses

Beloit Recreation

Beloit has a well maintained system of parks and recreation facilities. The city has 4 parks covering 50.2 acres. There are six reservoirs and lakes within 60 miles of Beloit, the closest being Waconda Lake located 11 miles west. Beloit's annual events include a county-wide 4

Beloit, KS Recreation

Col. William Newton Kinslow

When Col. William Newton Kinslow died in Beloit on Oct. 18, 1948, many attended his funeral, but no one bought him a head stone to mark his final resting place. At 6'7", Kinslow was a member of the National Society of Longfellows and at one time was listed as the second tallest man in Kansas.

Beloit, KS Pioneer Life

Things to do Indian Heritage near Beloit, KS

Spirit of Waconda

Waconda was the daughter of a great Chief. She became infatuated with the son of another chief of a hostile tribe. The intima...