Scott State Park Historic Preservation Committee formed
Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Secretary Robin Jennison announced the formation of the Scott State Park Historic Preservation and Development Committee at a ceremony today at Lake Scott State Park. The focus of the committee is to raise funds to preserve, interpret and develop the unique historic features of the park and the surrounding area. Lake Scott State Park is about 12 miles north of Scott City and is situated along the Western Vistas Historic Byway.
The remains of the northernmost Native American pueblo, El Cuartelejo, are a defining feature of the park. Built in the late 1600s and occupied until the early 1700s, the pueblo was used by Taos Pueblo, Plains Apache and Picuris Pueblo tribes for most of its history. The park and portions of the area around it comprise the El Cuartelejo Archeological District National Historic Landmark.
“Lake Scott State Park and the surrounding area are among the most historic and beautiful places in Kansas,” said Governor Brownback. “We are especially honored to have C.A. Tsosie, a Picuris Pueblo tribal elder and his wife, Harriet, travel here from New Mexico to bless El Cuartelejo and perform a drum ceremony.”
In announcing the committee’s formation, Secretary Jennison, whose family history is deeply rooted in the Healy area a few miles from the park, noted the importance of community involvement in preserving the historic features of the park.
“The history of this area is a source of pride for western Kansans,” he said. “We deeply appreciate the willingness of community leaders to join together to help us preserve and interpret not only El Cuartelejo, but other nearby sites that make this region a historic treasure for our state.”
The committee will be headed by Jerry Thomas, renowned Kansas western and wildlife artist whose works are displayed at the Jerry Thomas Gallery and Collection adjacent to the El Quartelejo Museum in Scott City. Funding challenges have constrained efforts to preserve and interpret El Cuartelejo. One of the goals of the committee will be to raise funds to build an interpretive center over the ruins to help preserve them.
Other Notable Historic Features
The Steele Home, situated a few hundred feet south of the ruins, was built in 1894 by Herbert and Eliza Steele. They owned the land and brought the possible existence of pueblo ruins to the attention of science in the late 1890s. In 1925, they deeded five acres of the property encompassing El Cuartelejo to the Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution (KSDAR), which erected a monument commemorating the site. The KSDAR transferred title to the land to KDWPT in 2012 and the KSDAR monument remains.
Battle Canyon is one mile south of the park and is the site of the last Indian battle in Kansas, (between Northern Cheyenne and the U.S. Cavalry in 1878).
About Lake Scott State Park
The park is nestled in a scenic canyon in northern Scott County and is widely considered one of Kansas’ most beautiful state parks. It was listed in National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of the 50 must-see state parks in the U.S. The Kansas Sampler Foundation also listed the park as a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas designation. It was included on a list of 36 Stunning U.S. State Parks by The Active Times website.