Opothleyahola's (Hopoeithleyohola's) Great Escape
1. LOCATION: A nature trail of the approximate route used by Opothleyahola (Hopoeithleyohola), a Creek Indian leader, his followers as well as their slaves and freedmen who fled Oklahoma Territory for Kansas to avoid conscription into the Confederate Army in 1861. They followed the Verdigris and Fall Rivers into northern Wilson County to Fort Row (Roe) near Coyville. Gravel roads are never more than 1/2 mile from the rivers' scenic vista. US-75 is officially designated the trail by Kansas Legislature and also goes thru scenic areas. Just south of Fredonia is a crossing used by the Indians and is now Mill Dam Park. Fort Row (Roe) was located a few miles southeast of the community of Coyville, which is just south of Cross Timbers State Park at Toronto Lake.
2. HOURS. The roads are open and visitors welcome to travel them at any time. Maps are available at the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce.
3. ACCESS - Public or Private: The rivers are private with public land only at bridge crossings.
Travel on gravel roads may be by vehicle or hiking. There are no public lands except within the city limits of Neodesha and at Fredonia's Mill Dam/water works plant southwest of town.
A. ADA Accessibility: None
B. Parking: Parking is available at the riverside park in Neodesha or at the Mill Dam Park southwest of Fredonia.
C. Restrooms: Public restrooms are nearby in each of the above parks and are open seasonally, April thru October. Public restrooms are available at the Courthouse on the historic square in Fredonia, M-F, 8am-5pm.
D. Roads: Some short stretches of ungraveled road are near both rivers cutting off access in wet weather. All roads are either gravel surface or blacktop and usually follow the land section grid.
E. Drinking Water: A fountain is available at Mill Dam Park, southwest of Fredonia.
4. FEES: Admission is free.
5. CONTACT INFORMATION:
Fredonia Chamber of Commerce
402 N. 7th
PO Box 449
Fredonia, KS 66736
Hours: M-F 9:00 - 12:00; 12:30 - 4:00.
Gold Dust Days sponsored by Gold Dust, Inc. and the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce on the square features re-enactments from the 1800's. It is held in late May or early June each year. Wilson County Old Iron Club does demonstrations with antique farm machinery as well as some early forms of manufacture such as brooms or shingles. Appropriate for all ages.
Self guided walking tours of the Historic Fredonia business area as well as Victorian homes from 7th to 12th streets. Tour guides are available at the Chamber Office on the east side of the square. There is a charge for the business area guide. Appropriate for all ages.
Professional performing educators living at New Albany on the Fall River are available for programming of historic dress, skills, survival techniques upon request. Especially appropriate for children.
The Wilson County Historical museum, 420 N. 7th, has some artifacts from the Civil War as well as a small collection of Indian artifacts.
7. SCHEDULING POLICIES:
Road tours may be scheduled at your convenience. Obtain maps from the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 449, Fredonia, KS.
Float trips on the rivers must be cleared with each individual land owner as they are considered to be privately owned rivers in the State of Kansas.
Some roads are marked by a red band with white feather painted on utility poles to help travelers determine they are headed in the right direction. US-75 is marked at Caney and New Strawn with the brown historic marker.
An interpretive historic marker telling of the tragedy around Fort Row (Roe) is located on Harper Road 4 miles north of the junction with K-39 and at Road 2050. Literature is available from the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce. The actual location of Fort Row (Roe) is on private property and is inaccessible due to lack of a road. Periodic flooding of this area has washed away any visible signs of the fort's existence.
9: LEVEL OF INTERPRETATION:
Plans are ongoing for a "press museum" on Fredonia's square displaying the small hand press which was brought from Lawrence first to Emporia and finally to Fredonia by John Gilmore who published the Wilson County Citizen.
Wilson County Old Iron Club is working to have a building in which to house their equipment where it can be demonstrated without concern for inclement weather.
More roads are to be marked throughout the county with the utility pole feather as workers become available.
Plans are being made for an information/map kiosk at the Coyville Community Center where visitors may become acquainted with the story of Fort Row (Roe) and Cross Timbers history.
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Come visit us in Fredonia, Kansas