I would never say that I am a history buff, but I do enjoy learning about history especially when it is something that is local to the area. I have lived in Manhattan, KS since 1998 and I am not sure I ever really noticed these large limestone blocks that are placed through town until a few years ago when my cousins told me they were walking the military road through Miller Ranch. They shared that it was the original road from Fort Leavenworth to Forty Riley. The what road I asked?
They followed with, haven't you read the plaques on the large slabs of limestone rock in the subdivision? To anyone reading this, you probably already know my answer, nope! In fact, I didn't even realize that there were large limestone rocks with plaques on them in and around town.
On the hunt for the specific rock they were referencing I realized I have probably driven by this rock hundreds of times and never even noticed it, possibly like some of you! The rock I am talking about is located on Miller Parkway and is right before the roundabout near Burton Place Townhomes. It is also pictured above for reference.
The plaque tells the story of the military road, but for those who might not be able to make it out to the market, here are some of the details of the road. The original road was commissioned in 1853. The first road was used in the 1850s and 1860s. The road went from across Pottawatomie and Riley County, across the Big Blue River via ferry, across Juniatte Rd, through Rocky Ford, along Wildcat Creek, over the hills, and into Fort Riley!
A bridge was later built for the military road to cross the Big Blue River, but was washed away in the flood of 1856. Then, the Junietta Crossing was closed so a second road needed to be built. The second military road came into town from the East. The route crossed the Big Blue River, went down Poyntz Ave., through what is now the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary school playground, down Fort Riley BLVD., over Seth Childs, through Warner Park, Miller Ranch, and then headed through Eureka Valley to Scenic Drive, down Wildcat Creek, and into Fort Riley!
Those who are volunteering to trace this route have done an amazing job! As they pass through known areas, with the help of journals, they look for swales and wagon wheel tracks as indications they are literally on the right road. Each marker, notating this part of history has a 24''x24'' plaque on the front.
It is funny to me, how I have driven past these markers for years and never knew what they were, and now, as I pass the locations listed above I find myself looking for the massive limestones markers! In fact, yesterday I was driving down Poyntz Ave. and noticed the marker at one of the entrances to Manhattan City Park. Instantly knew, now these huge limestone sections are something I will always see.
Being aware of history is part of knowing the place you live, I am happy to share this little bit and hope that you will enjoy looking for the limestone markers as you are out and about. There are several maps that you can reference if you really want to trace the road, the county has a general one that I used to find a few of them! You can find that link, here! If you do go out and explore, please be respectful, some of the markers are on private property! However, if you see the ones in public areas, please share and tag me so we can all follow along!