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Homesteading in Barton County

Pawnee Rock

An area containing a rock formation which was originally called Rock Point, Pawnee Rock received its present name from a legendary battle between the Comanches and Pawnee Indians. In the 1800's, the Santa Fe Trail was created and Pawnee Rock became a landmark for travelers along the trail.

After the Civil War, a group of fourteen young men from Kentucky came to Russell, Kansas which was the end of the line for the railroad at that time. The men walked fifty miles and laid claim to land at Pawnee Rock. They laid out the town site and also built a house and dug a well.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad built its tracks to Pawnee Rock, reaching it on July 14, 1872. A hotel was built in 1872, and by 1878, there was an elevator and a flour mill. Many of the buildings were constructed of sandstone from the nearby rock formation, and several of those buildings remain standing today.

The rock itself was preserved after a state park was created in 1912.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Barton County - Pawnee Rock
Early view of Pawnee Rock

Barton County - Pawnee Rock Christian Church
Christian Church


Barton County - Pawnee Rock New Jerusalem Church
New Jerusalem Church 

Barton County - Pawnee Rock M.E. Church
M.E. Church

Barton County - Pawnee Rock school
Pawnee Rock School


Barton County - Pawnee Rock Lewis Elevator
Lewis Elevator



Various Authors. Biographical History of Barton County, Kansas. Great Bend: Great Bend Tribune, 1912.



Harrington, Marge, Compiler. Barton County: Golden Heartland of Kansas. Great Bend: Great Bend Tribune, 1996.


Hours and Contacts

Monday,April 21 Forsyth will close at 10 pm because of no electricity

Spring Hours:
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Friday:         7:30 am - 7:00 pm
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Phone: 785.628.4434
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Mailing Address:
   Forsyth Library
   600 Park Street
   Hays, KS 67601
Physical Address:

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099