Flood of 1951
July 13th, 1951, is forever etched into the heart of Woodson County as “Black Friday,” date of the worst flood to ever strike Neosho Falls. Though the town had faced previous flooding disasters – in 1948, water was nearly ten feet above the flood plane – this Friday the 13th would see the Neosho River rise and drown the town beneath ominous murky waters from which it was never quite able to return, by a torrent sixteen and half feet above flood-level.
Hidden away in the southeast corner of Neosho Falls is the “Rockland Home,” which, having been constructed in 1862 immediately following the birth of Kansas, makes it likely the oldest residence in the county.
The house was built by Major George Catlin Snow while he was serving as Indian Agent for the Osage, Seminole, Sac, and Fox tribes, and hence the back room of the structure – the first constructed on-site – was once an Indian mission facing native encampments along the Neosho River that existed long before settlement of the Falls.
St. Martin’s Church
The interior of the church is breathtaking, even today. Every corner and cranny, every statue, the white-and-gold altar (designed by a Chicagoan), plated lamps, marble tables, stained-glass windows, images of angels and saints and disciples, each constitutes its own study in Medieval and Modern Judeo-Christian iconography.
Most folks are aware that Oscar-winning silent film star Buster Keaton was born in Piqua, but many don’t realize how wide the impact of his genius-level filmic art. Indeed, critic Roger Ebert called Keaton “the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies,” and Orson Welles claimed Keaton’s masterpiece “The General” was the greatest comedy ever made, perhaps the greatest film ever made, period.
Cross Timbers State Park in the Chautauqua Hills near Toronto is a place of staggering environmental beauty, but it is also of great historical significance as well. Of particular interest, are a series of “ancient” deciduous trees – post oaks and blackjack oaks – you can visit by walking a trail located near the main park entrance, where the trailhead is just north of the boat-ramp and campsites. The trail also features some incredible rock-formations, as well as a campsite made from native stone surrounding a shallow “cave.”
Kalida Castle Cave
Best known for its iconic “castle cave,” likely no place in the county stirs the imagination quite like the nationally recognized Kalida historic site; yet it is often forgotten that the area was once also home to a working farm, bustling village, and temporary county seat.
Woodson Co. Historical Society Museum
The building itself is made of native sandstone and is one of the oldest standing structures in Yates Center. Originally the first church built in Yates Center, the building was contracted by the First Christian Church and was completed in the spring of 1878. Green and red stained-glass windows are still visible on the side of the structure facing US-54.
On a blustery cold day in February 1915, the State Exchange Bank – where the current USD #366 Board Office sits – was robbed in broad daylight, sending the entire town of Yates Center into wild and lolling panic. In four minutes flat, nearly $5,000 was liquidated through an act of thievery efficient enough to make even a Wall Street firm proud.
By the time the bank robbers had been locked away in the old sandstone jail, it seemed all of Yates Center had taken to the streets to form an unruly mob. But this is only the beginning–the robbers escaped three weeks later.
Of all the events to take place in the recorded history of Woodson County, perhaps none demands one’s attention and careful ethical reflection more than the plight of Chief Opothleyahola and the Muskogee/Upper Creek people, as they experienced the horrifically brutal ordeal known as the “Trail of Blood on Ice.”