8 Wonders of Kansas geography

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Geography

Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, near Manhattan

Address: 7960 State Lake Road, Manhattan, KS 66502
Phone: 785. 539.9999
Website: www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/kdwp_info/locations

Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography because... the flat, stone creek bottom forms a natural ford, followed by a long, broad waterfall that has been a landmark for generations.

From I-70:  To get to Pillsbury Crossing from I-70, take exit 316 and go five miles north on Deep Creek Road. Turn right on Pillsbury Crossing Road approximately two miles to Pillsbury Crossing Lane. These are all dirt roads.

From Manhattan:  To get to Pillsbury Crossing from Manhattan, drive south on K-177 two miles to Deep Creek Road. Turn left and drive three miles to Pillsbury Crossing Road. Follow Pillsbury Crossing Road for two miles.

Photo courtesy Dennis Toll

Source:  Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks website

Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area was donated to the Kansas Forestry Fish & Game Commission through Wildtrust from Dr. and Mrs. Edwin J. Frick of Manhattan.  It is now owned by Kansas Wildlife & Parks.  The 59 acres of Deep Creek provide public access to one of the most scenic areas of the northern flint hills region. Located seven miles southeast of Manhattan, the natural flat rock crossing was named for pioneer J.H. Pillsbury*, who settled here in 1855. 

The native limestone rock layer that makes up the road crossing has been used to cross Deep Creek since pre-settlement time.

During normal stream flow, you can canoe, kayak or take a small boat upstream as far as 1/2 mile.   Birdwatching is popular and a small hiking trail is provided. There is good channel cat fishing on both upstream and downstream of the crossing.   Also, Pillsbury Crossing is one of the areas in the state where spotted bass occur naturally. Other fish which may be found are Largemouth bass, bullhead and carp.

Source:  Keith Stokes Kansas Travel website

This beautiful 60 feet long, five feet high waterfall should get a lot more year-round attention. Pillsbury Crossing is a low water river crossing where vehicles following Pillsbury Crossing Lane drive a 100-foot stretch through a few inches of running water. The Falls are just a few dozen feet down river from the crossing and can be reached from parking spots next to the east side of Pillsbury Crossing. Deep Creek Waterfall can also be reached from the north side where you must climb down about a 30-foot rock face. The climb isn't bad if you are careful, just enough to add a little adventure to the visit.

Photo courtesy Eldon Clark

Click here to find historical document excerpts below from the Kansas State Historical Society. Thanks to Dennis Toll for finding this information.

NOTE 2.-Josiah Hobart Pillsbury was born August 15, 1821, at Hebron, New Hampshire. He came to Kansas in 1854 with the third party of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, remaining at Lawrence during the winter. The next spring he went up into what is now Riley County, pre-empted land and located the Zeandale colony in what later became Zeandale township.

He was a member of the Topeka constitutional convention and of the famous Topeka legislature of 1856, and was also elected a delegate to the Leavenworth constitutional convention. In June, 1863, Mr. Pillsbury moved to Manhattan, where he established the Manhattan Independent, maintaining that paper until 1868. In 1869 he was appointed postmaster,and reappointed in 1875. He was also county surveyor from 1863 to 1872.

He was twice married, first to Miss Nora L. Pevier, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Pevier, of Franklin, New Hampshire, April 16, 1853. She died July 15, 1868. In November, 1870, he was married to Mrs. Emma Steele, of Terre Haute, Indiana.  Mr. Pillsbury died at Manhattan November 12, 1879.