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Morris County, KS

Morris CountyKnown for being the last place to stop and purchase supplies before heading west on the Santa Fe Trail, Morris County is rich in history. The ruts from the numerous wagon trains are still visible out across the scenic Flint Hills.

When the Santa Fe Trail was the great highway between the Missouri border, then the western limit of American settlement, and the Spanish town of Santa Fe, Council Grove was an important waypoint on the route. Situated on the Neosho River, it was a natural stopping place, well watered with abundant grass and timber.

At this grove in 1825 the U.S. commissioners negotiated with the Osages for a passage across their lands. This right-of-way, surveyed by the government in 1825-1827, became the Santa Fe Trail as it is known today, and from this council with the Osages the town of Council Grove took its name.

The county has many interesting sites including the Kaw Mission, the Hays House Restaurant, the Seth Hays House, the Last Chance Store, the Old Brewery, the Cottage House, the Calaboose, the Mather-Blim House, the Sylvan Grove Depot, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Depot, and most of the downtown business district of Council Grove is an historic district.

Morris County is home to the Council Grove Federal Reservoir which is host to thousands of visitors each year enjoying good fishing, water skiing, boating, and camping. Besides the Federal Reservoir, Morris County has a city owned lake just outside of Council Grove, and a privately owned lake in the southeast corner of the County known as Lake Kahola.

Agricultural interests dominated the early development of Morris County and is still the prominent industry today. The grasslands of the Flint Hills are desired by cattlemen all over the nation. Thousands of cattle arrive every year from out of state to be turned out onto the lush native grasses of the Flint Hills.

Explore Morris County

Hermit's Cave

This tiny cave was the temporary home of an Italian hermit, Giovanni Maria Augustini, who lived here for a brief period in the spring of 1863. Later that year, the religious mystic left with a wagon train, walking the 500 miles to New Mexico.

Council Grove, KS Pioneer History

Early Day Jail

Desperadoes, ruffians, robbers and horse thieves all "bunked" here in this early day calaboose (jail), built in 1849. It was said to be the only jail on the Santa Fe Trail at the time. Other Durland Park attractions:

Council Grove, KS Pioneer Life

Madonna of the Trail

This striking statue, depicting a pioneer mother with two children, pays tribute to the sturdy women of covered wagon days. The 10-feet-tall figure is made of pink Algonite stone and was erected in 1928

Council Grove, KS Memorials

Cottage House Hotel

This rambling, two-story brick building began in 1867 as a 3-room cottage and blacksmith shop. Today, the handsome gazebo-style porches are favorite gathering places for guests and the historic hotel is a restored showcase of unique Victorian charm. From "Aunt Minnie's Room" to the "Bridal Chamber"

Council Grove, KS Historic Hotels

Post Office Oak and Museum

This 300-year-old bur oak (just the trunk remains) served as the unofficial post office for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail from 1825-1847. Passing caravans could leave messages for future travelers in a cache in the base of the tree. A stone building erected in 1864

Council Grove, KS Landmarks

Terwilliger Home

With its foundation laid in Kansas Territory, the Terwilliger Home was built alongside the famed Santa Fe Trail as Kansas became the 34th state. Built by Abraham and Mary Rawlinson in 1860-61, this stone home was the last house freighters passed going West when leaving Council Grove as late as 18

Council Grove, KS Historic Homes


Old Stone Barn

This imposing, 76-foot-long native stone barn was built into the bank of a hill in 1871 on land owned by the town's founder, Seth Hays. It's the only structure remaining from the Morris County Poor Farm, which existed here from 1889-1945.

Council Grove, KS Historic Barns

Old Bell Monument

Perched high on a hill overlooking the town and Neosho River valley below, this bell was erected in 1866 to warn townsfolk of Indian raids. It also served as a school and church bell for nearly 30 years.

Council Grove, KS Monuments

Custer Elm

Legend has it that while patrolling the Santa Fe Trail with his famous 7th Cavalry Regiment, George Armstrong Custer camped under the huge elm that flourished at this site. The massive trunk is all that remains of this tree that measured more than 100 feet tall and 16 feet around. Custer bought 120

Council Grove, KS Landmarks

Council Grove National Bank Building

Completed in 1887, this bank that anchors a corner of downtown is a fine example of Western Commerical architecture. The exterior of the building was refurbished in 1974 and, after a 1978 fire, additional work restored the lobby to an appearance reminiscent of 1887. Listed on the

Council Grove, KS Historic Buildings

Field School House

The one-room Field School, closed at the end of the 1945-46 school year, is remarkably well preserved. It was moved from its original site 8 miles south of Council Grove to Maple Camp in 1999

Council Grove, KS Historic Schoolhouses

Explore Morris County