Cedar Bluff History

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ALERT

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) reminds visitors that all Kansas state parks are open for business. State park camping areas, cabins, trails, boat ramps, and other amenities are open, as are many of the businesses who serve lake visitors. KDWPT offices and nature centers are open during regular hours, and access to all wildlife areas and fishing lakes operated by the department remains unchanged. Regular state park fees apply.

Wildfire Hazard:

Hot, dry weather across much of Kansas has increased the risk of wildfires. The most vulnerable regions are in the western half of the state where rainfall has been minimal. Campers should contact the state park office to learn about local conditions and burn restrictions.

Cedar Bluff State Park in central Kansas is the gateway to a canyon noted for its historic significance. Threshing Machine Canyon, accessible by a road west of the park, was the site of a station on Butterfield’s Overland Despatch (BOD) or the Smoky Hill Trail, called Bluffton Station.

In 1867, a wagon train transporting a threshing machine to Brigham Young in Salt Lake City camped for the night beneath a bluff overlooking the canyon floor. A group of Native Americans attacked the encampment, killed the travelers, and set the threshing machine on fire. Remains of the old burned threshing machine could be seen for years.

Travelers along the trail carved their names in the limestone bluffs. Threshing Machine Canyon was visited as early as 1849 (quite possibly earlier) and up to the present. In the historic canyon, you will find carvings dating back to the mid-1800s, and some are still visible today. Many of the inscriptions were carved by the "Pike's Peakers" in 1859 and U.S. cavalrymen (3rd Wisconsin and 13th Missouri) traveling along the BOD in 1865.