You can see post rock fence posts throughout the Smoky Hill Region but especially in Lincoln County (Post Rock Capital of Kansas), and Rush, Russell, and Ellis counties. Another showcase of the artistic side of post rock is found behind the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas.
in Russell County is a beautiful drive and will take you by many post rock fence posts.
HISTORY OF POST ROCK
The limestone that is visible throughout the Smoky Hill
counties is at the top of the many layers of sediment deposited by a
series of interior seas that covered Kansas between 500 million and 65
million years ago. The fossil record of the complex forms of animal and
vegetable life that existed from this period are visible in this
This picturesque rock, which lies just below the surface of
a 200-mile swath of land running southwest from a central point on the
Kansas-Nebraska border to a point a few miles north of Dodge City,
became the very practical building and fencing material for the
settlers who came to this area in the last 25 years of the nineteenth
century. The use of the limestone for fence posts and barbed wire to
connect the posts was crucial to the transformation of central Kansas
from open range land to cropland. FENCING NEEDED
Cattle ranchers who had been
accustomed to allowing their stock to range free, were soon struggling
with farmers who wanted to raise crops that were being ruined by
roaming cattle. Some ranchers fenced the farm land for the farmers; in
other cases the farmers erected their own fences. There was little
timber, and other fencing materials were too expensive, so the farmers
turned to the same rock they had used to build their houses and
Post rock fences had many advantages over the wood fences
used in other parts of the country. The posts cost only time and labor
to quarry. Stone posts did not rot like wood and prairie fires could
sweep through them without destroying them. It has been estimated that
at the peak of their use, there were approximately 40,000 miles of
these stone post fences in central Kansas.
ADD SOME BARBED WIRE
Hedge thorns provided the basic model for the barbed wire fence. In
1874, the Glidden and Haish patents provided the availability of barbed
wire in the market; however, its use was not legally sanctioned in
Kansas until 1883. Smooth wire, available in the market since the
invention of the telegraph in the 1830s, had proved inadequate because
the cattle rubbed against it, loosening the posts and breaking the
wire. Barbed wire was being used almost exclusively by 1890.
The major problems that faced the farmers who settled in the western
half of Kansas after the advent of the railroads in the 1880s and 1890s
were finding water and fencing. The problem of fencing was solved by
combining the unique deposits of limestone with the newly patented
LEARN MORE ABOUT POST ROCK FENCE POSTS
The rock post and barbed wire fences are fully
interpreted in the Barbed Wire and Post Rock museums at 120 and 202 1st
Street in LaCrosse. The combination of the two provides a complete
interpretation of this unique part of Kansas history.
Open Memorial Day-mid-September Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m. Call for an appointment, 785.222.2781; 785.222.2719.
These picturesque fences are still in place throughout most of Rush
County. They have proved their worth for more than 125 years.
The Post Rock Museum in LaCrosse is a good place to learn more
about the history and use of post rock in Kansas. Photo-KSF
The museum houses creative displays and interesting information
about the uses of limestone in Kansas. Photo - KSF