Monument Rocks

monument rocks by Miles Elliot

Photo by Miles Elliot (www.mileselliot.com)

The Chalk Pyramids, also known as Monument Rocks, lie in Gove County, Kansas, West of Castle Rock and East of Highway 83.  Jutting from the ground, the rocks were carved by erosion from what once was a vast inland sea.  They are designated as a National Natural Landmark, the first such location selected by the United States Department of the Interior.

More exploring on the Web:

Monument Rocks/Washburn University

Natural Kansas

For a map to this location:  Monument Rocks

Battle of Punished Woman's Fork

Photo by Mickey Shannon (https://www.mickeyshannon.com/photo/battle-canyon-monument-milky-way/)

Travel to the place where the last Indian battle in Kansas was fought. Punished Woman's Fork is approximately one-mile South of Lake Scott State Park along Highway 95. It is a fork off of the Ladder Creek that now forms Historic Lake Scott. A monument overlooks the cave, canyon, and bluffs where the Northern Cheyenne hid, waiting to ambush the United States Cavalry.

During the evening of September 9, 1878, Little Wolf and Dull Knife led the Northern Cheyenne from their camp. Frontier military were dispatched to return the fleeing Cheyenne. Lieutenant Colonel William H. Lewis eventually pursued them as commander of the Nineteenth Infantry from Fort Dodge, Kansas. After camping near the Dry Lake area in present-day southeastern Scott County, the pursuing soldiers advanced toward Ladder Creek. The Cheyenne Indians (300 men, women, and children) decoyed 250 soldiers and one excited warrior released a shot. This was the start of the last battle between the U.S. Army and the Native Americans in the state of Kansas. During this battle Colonel Lewis was hit in the leg. Lewis bled to death while being taken to Fort Wallace. He was the last army officer in killed in military action in Kansas. After the battle, the Northern Cheyenne fled during the night.

This area has been designated a State and National Historic Site.


punished womans fork sunrise mickey shannon

 Photo by Mickey Shannon (www.mickeyshannon.com)


El Cuartelejo

The El Cuartelejo Ruins are now centuries old. The ancient ruins hold the story of the only known pueblo in the state of Kansas. The site on which El Cuartelejo is found was owned by the Kansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution who preserved the site. Because of the rich and varied history of El Cuartelejo pueblo, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also holding the status of National Landmark.

Apache, Kiowa, Commanche, Cheyenne and others were the earliest Native Americans to live in the High Plains of western Kansas after arrival of Europeans in North America. The Spanish of New Mexico referred to the Apache who lived in western Kansas in the 17th and early 18th century as the Cuartelejo Apache.  (Note:  The Spanish spelling of the name uses the letter "C", as in Cuartelejo.  The anglicized spelling is Quartelejo.)

The first Euro-American settlers in Scott County reportedly found irrigation ditches in Ladder Creek valley. The earlier Taos Pueblo refugees and the later inhabitants, the Picuris, built and used these channels to water their gardens. The El Cuartelejo pueblo was abandoned in approximately A.D. 1706, or by some accounts, somewhere near A.D. 1719.  These ruins were discovered in 1898 by an early Scott County pioneer, Herb Steele. The El Cuartelejo pueblo was built by the Pueblo Indians and is the northernmost pueblo ruin found in the United States.  The term "El Cuartelejo" can be broken into roots meaning:  cuartel - which mean "room" & lejo - which means "far away."

Read more: 

El Cuartelejo, The Scott County Pueblo

El Cuartelejo:  High Plains Laws and Identity




Early Settlement

Scott County was organized in 1886, two years after settlement of the area. By the 1880s, the desire to own land largely overcame the view of the western plains as a desert. Drought, crop failures, and blizzards resulted in population fluctuations during the early years of settlement.  Nonetheless, settlers stayed, with hopes that they would eventually reap the rewards.

Indian cultures living in the region varied through different segments of  time: the Apache during the 17th Century, with Pawnee, Kiowa, and Cheyenne dwelling in the area of current-day Scott County in the early 1800s.        

As the environment of western Kansas gradually changed after the Ice Age, its native people adjusted their ways of living also, over a relatively shorter period of time. Hunting provided much of the food supply for these indigenous people. Streams fed by rainwater and underground springs cut valleys through the nearly level plains. Shallow depressions dot the rolling uplands. Occasional pools form after heavy or continuous rains in these playas. Water was thus provided for animals and humans.

Houses of the later European settlers were made of sod, with roofs of wood and sod on top, in order to provide some protection from hot summer and cold winter temperatures.


Western K.S. (Kris Super) Fossil Lab

Fossil Lab has Grand Opening



The Western K.S. Fossil Lab held its GRAND OPENING on Saturday, April 29, 2023.  Kris Super cut the ribbon on the exhibit and working lab featuring the Elasmosaur he found in 2021.  Two years in the making, Kris was able to free the near 1,000 lb. chalk and body of this rare fossil last summer and with some strong community help, it made its way to El Quartelejo Museum.

Making this specimen more rare is the skull of the animal.  Thanks to the Scott County Hospital and Mark Burnett, the skull block was placed in their state-of-the-art CT-scanner.  What was revealed is a stunning find!  Few skulls of an elasmosaur have been found and fewer with their body, but this one is in amazing condition inside the Smoky Hill Chalk making it one of the most complete finds of an elasmosaur in Kansas and possibly beyond.

The lab is under the direction of Kris Super, local SCHS Science Teacher whose degree specialty is in Geology and Paleontology from Kansas University and Fort Hays State University where he has worked and contributed to their natural history museums including the Sternberg Museum.  Kris has made many other unique and incredible fossil finds that have led to study and publication.  You can learn more about Kris by visiting the lab!

Kris will be in throughout the summer working on the fossil, hosting workshops, and educating guests about this enormous project.

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