8 Wonders of Kansas geography

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Geography

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, near Canton

Address: 2577 Pueblo Road, Canton, KS 67428-8821
Phone: 620.628.4455
Website: www.cyberkraft.com/maxwell/

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography because...its midgrass prairie provides the only place in Kansas where both buffalo and elk can be viewed in their natural habitat by the public.

Location:  6 miles north of Canton on K-86 (27th Avenue), then 1 1/4 miles west on Pueblo to Friends visitor center.

SourceNaturalkansas.org and Maxwell staff

Photo courtesy Jim Griggs
For a year-round tram ride to see the buffalo (and often right into the buffalo herd) or elk call Friends of Maxwell at 620.628.4455. 

Click here to see a KDWP video about the tram rides.

There are currently 150 buffalo and 75 elk at Maxwell.

However, the only opportunity to see the elk is in the winter, December through March.  From mid-September until mid-October the dominant bulls are busy gathering cows into harems. But, if you're on the refuge, you might get lucky and hear the bugling on calm mornings or evenings. 

The 4.5 square miles of Maxwell Wildlife Refuge includes a road through the prairie that is open range.  Sometime vehicles must stop until the buffalo get out of the roadway.

Photo courtesy Jim Griggs
A tenth of a mile beyond the driveway to the Friends visitor center is a turn to an observation tower.  You won't always see buffalo or elk from here but a panormaic prairie view is constant.

Kansas Scenic Byways website

Maxwell is located on the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, the newest Kansas Scenic Byway.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is located in Battlehill Township, of McPherson County.  The preserved natural prairie is comprised of rolling hills, creeks, springs, and beautiful prairie grasses and wildflowers.  One hundred fifty head of bison and 75 elk roam free on these 2,800 acres.

In 1859 John Gault Maxwell drove a small herd of buffalo into the area and set up a homestead. He married in 1865 and he and his wife had two sons, John and Henry.  Mr. Maxwell's dream was to preserve a piece of prairie, with a roaming herd of buffalo, for future generations to experience Kansas as it was in the 1800s, prior to settlement.

With the death of Mr. Maxwell and the success in business of his two sons, the dream lived on. John died in 1940 leaving his interests to Henry.  When Henry died, his will made Maxwell Wildlife Refuge possible.  Ten buffalo and six elk were placed at the refuge in 1951.

The Friends of Maxwell, a local non-profit organization, formed in 1993 to work with Kansas Wildlife and Parks to promote the historic and educational values of the refuge.  The Friends group began designing programs to create an income to fund the activities, with the main focus on guided prairie tours, traveling into the buffalo herd with information about the buffalo.  The importance of preserving our environment, pointing out wildflowers and prairie grasses, and relating the history of the area were also stressed.

All of these experiences are made possible because of one pioneer's fascination with the prairie and the "Magnificent Buffalo", his young widow who strove to carry out her husbands dream, his two sons who carried on the dream, and, finally, by the Friends of Maxwell.

Click here for a KDWP video about Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.

Source:  cyberkraft.com/maxwell/

Photo courtesy Jim Griggs