Unit 3 – Part A. Harvey County: Home of Trails

Over many generations, Harvey County has been heavily traveled since the area is a major crossroads of trails. These trails were created and/or used by wild animals, Native Americans, Spanish explorers, military units, gold prospectors, cowboys, pioneers, immigrants, travelers and local residents.

Within Harvey, Marion, and McPherson counties, the sheer number of Native American and pioneer trails is staggering. Brian Stucky, an area historian and researcher, has suggested the region has a higher quantity of trails and more different kinds of trails than anywhere else in the Plains and Midwest states with the possible exception of Independence (MO), Fort Bridger (WY) and St. Louis (MO).

Because of the astonishing quantity of trails in the region, this presentation is restricted to those trail stories which pertain to Harvey County; and how they were purposed. As a further limitation of the subject matter, the focus is on the major trails which traversed Harvey County. Since the stories of the various trails have been summarized, researchers are welcome to use HCHM’s resources in order to obtain further details.

The stories of the trails illustrate “No man is an island entire of itself.” No one is truly self-sufficient. No one functions in isolation. People rely on and/or are impacted by others. Their actions produce threads connecting them to others. The threads can be very obvious or barely discernible. The challenge is to identify the threads, determine who was impacted, name what elements came into play and then recognize the short-term and long-term ripple effects.