Prairie Dog State Park
13037 State Highway 261
Norton, KS 67654
GPS: N39 48.757 W99 57.794
Prairie Dog State Park at Keith Sebelius Reservoir west of Norton, in Norton County, hosts two vintage 19th century buildings – a renovated adobe house and Hillmon Schoolhouse, a one-room school.
The adobe house is the only one in Kansas on its original location and preserved as a museum. The house was probably constructed in 1892 by the John Spencer family. It was built with bricks formed from a mix of mud and straw, called adobe. A horse walking in a circular trench to which dirt, water, and straw were added was used to create the proper consistency. Once the adobe bricks were laid in place, they were covered with a smooth finish coat of adobe. The adobe is still visible on the interior walls.
The house remains in its original location. As the state park was being built, a volunteer group worked to preserve the building. They fixed the roof, walls, and windows, cleaned the interior, and furnished it with donated antique furniture. The Adobe House has recently been extensively renovated. The grounds around the adobe house feature a wooden-wheel windmill, and a two-horse, dirt-moving wagon unearthed during the dam’s construction.
Hillmon Schoolhouse is the second iteration of the school. The original was a combination dugout and log structure overlooking the Sappa Valley in northwestern Norton County about 1 ½ miles south of the Kansas-Nebraska line. It had two windows, a door in the rear and desks fashioned of wood slabs with pegs for support. The current building was built in 1886 about ½ mile south of the original. It hosted community, church, and school events for many years. It was moved to Prairie Dog State Park in the late 1960s and was dedicated at its current location in September 1969.
Camping at Prairie Dog include 4 reservable cabins (2 modern and 2 primitive), 60 electric/water sites, 12 electric-only sites, and more than 130 primitive sites. Reservable sites are available. Shower and restroom facilities are conveniently located, as are two RV dump stations. A 1.4- mile nature trail complete with interpretive signage is a great way to explore the park and observe wildlife.
Historical interpretation is a hallmark of this park. Two vintage 19th century buildings are preserved here, including a one room school and renovated adobe house.
Sebelius Reservoir is well known for its excellent fishing opportunities. In recent years, anglers have found productive fishing for black bass, walleye, wiper, crappie, catfish and saugeye.
The 6,400-acre Norton Wildlife Area offers good prospects for pheasant, waterfowl and rabbits. Both whitetailed and mule deer can be found here, as well as a variety of furbearers.