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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.
Early view of Pawnee Rock
New Jerusalem Church
Pawnee Rock School
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.
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