8 Wonders of Kansas geography

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Geography

Native Stone Scenic Byway, Shawnee & Wabaunsee Counties

Phone: 785.296.8669
Website: www.ksbyways.org/Pages/Native/native1.html

Native Stone Scenic Byway is a finalist because...it showcases an area in Kansas that is well known for its native limestone, featuring dry stacked stone fences and stone out-croppings among the rolling Flint Hills.

Photo courtesy Nancy Crenshaw-Miller
Source: Kansas Byway website

The Native Stone Scenic Byway is located along K-4 and K-99 highways, through Mission Creek and Mill Creek valleys, in Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties in the glorious Flint Hills. The Native Stone Scenic Byway is an area in Kansas that is approximately 56 miles long and is known for its native limestone. Limestone fences are found framing the grasslands and ranching areas throughout the byway. The limestone from which the byway gets its name was formed from the sediments of shallow seas that existed over 240 million years ago.

There are plenty of historical and cultural sites along the byway, like the Wabaunsee (Keene) Cemetery, which was an Underground Railroad site. There are also ancient buildings that can be seen along the byway that were built by pioneer stonemasons from Sweden and Germany.

The Native Stone Scenic Byway has been alive and well for thousands of years. Travelers of the byway will see the village of Dover which was named for the white cliffs of Dover, England.  The towns of Eskridge and Alma continue to serve as vital centers for those who call the Kansas Flint Hills home.

Along the way you will also see the native stone fences that pioneers from the 1800s built. The 1867 law abolishing the open range provided payment of 40 cents per rod to landowners to build or have a fence around their land. The native stone was plentiful back then and so our pioneers built miles and miles of fences.  That's what you see today when driving down the Native Stone Scenic Byway.

Click here for a Sunflower Journey segment on the Native Stone Scenic Byway.

Echo Cliff is an impressive geological feature. Photo KSF


One of the features on the byway is Echo Cliff Park.  The park is located a mile- and-a-half west of Dover in Wabaunsee County on K-4 and Echo Cliff Road. About 300 million years ago Kansas was much different than how we know it today.  For the most part it was flat, low-lying land that was near sea level or covered by shallow marine waters. The area was flooded by the sea and sediments were laid down that became the shale and limestone rock that you find in the hills around Dover. As the seas retreated from this area and the land was exposed to weathering and erosion this formed the Mission Creek Valley and the Echo Cliff that we know today.

This park has a very rich Indian history and sometimes you can find arrowheads dating back to 800-1000 AD when the Woodland Indians lived in this area.

The cliff overlooks Mission Creek and was named Echo Cliff because of the echo you can hear. Today the park is being preserved as well as enjoyed by the public. There is an old iron and wood bridge that is ideal to fish from and there is a picnic area with a great view of the cliff.  The picnic tables are very unique and are made of scrap iron and cement. The "furniture" is maintained, cleaned and repainted every year by a group of motorcycle riding friends.

Source:  Abby Dechant's nomination