The Last Stand

Of the Tall grass Prairie National Preserve

Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Kansas Flint Hills.

The Flint Hills of Kansas is one of the rarest and most endangered ecosystems in the world.

The Preserve was formally the Spring Hill Ranch owned by Steven F. Jones.

Tallgrass prairie once covered approximately 170 million acres of North America.

Grasses include Big Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switch Grass and they can grow to heights of eight feet.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” -C. S. Lewis

There are over 40 miles of maintained hiking trails in the preserve.

The Lower Fox Creek School was finished in 1879.

Stone for the school came from Barney Lantry's quarry, north of Strong City, KS and David Rettiger did the stone work. David Rettiger was the same contractor on Jones' Spring Hill Ranch house.

The Common School model had become so widely accepted in eastern states that settlers simply brought it with them.

Tallgrass Prairie is the nation's second newest national preserve and the park is still under development.

One of the unique aspects of the prairie is how it changes so much seasonally. In the spring, prescribed burns turn the earth black, with white limestone ridges visible. But in only two weeks, the landscape is transformed as green grass sprouts and cattle begin grazing. The prairie grasses continue to grow through the summer, and by fall visitors will finally see where the term “tallgrass” comes from, as it reaches heights from waist-high to well over a person’s head.

Since 2009, the preserve has been home to the growing Tallgrass Prairie bison herd.

A Bison mother and calf display emotion at Tallgrass Prairie NP.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is nearly 11,000 acres.

The diversity of Tallgrass ecosystems is surpassed only by the rainforest of Brazil.

The Tallgrass Prairie is one of The 8 Wonders of Kansas.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” Edward Abbey

An outhouse was necessary, as this predated indoor plumbing here on the prairie

Park Ranger Ken Clark gives a personal tour of his beautiful domain.

Cottonwood Falls is the largest city and county seat of Chase County, Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 903.

The Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas was built in 1873 and is the oldest operating courthouse in Kansas.

All images captured on analog film camera, a Nikon F100 and Fuji Velvia Film. Converted to black and white in Snapseed.

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