Ellsworth, Kansas

Continuing east along Interstate 70 is Ellsworth, Kansas.  The importance of Ellsworth to the Custer Trail is its proximity to old Ft. Ellsworth and the nearby Ft. Harker, famous for the outbreak of cholera that prompted Custer to leave his command at Ft. Wallace for a exhausting ride to check on the welfare of his wife.  This eventually led to his Courts-Martial.  To Kansas, Ellsworth is famous for its hell-raising days as a cattle town known by the moniker "the wickedest town in the west!"  

Ellsworth is a small but bustling community located in Post Rock Country. You will find us just seven miles south of I-70. State highways 14, 140 and 156 run through our town, which is the county seat of Ellsworth [EW] county. The City of Ellsworth was established on May 8, 1867, on the north bank of the Smoky Hill River.  By June of that year, the town had a population of over two thousand. Severe flooding forced the city upstream a few miles to its present site. Today, Ellsworth takes pride in its excellent school system. The Ellsworth High School has a Performing Arts Center. We have three lovely parks, a brand new swimming pool, one of the best golf courses in central Kansas, and two state lakes within 15 miles. The countryside near us is known for superior hunting and fishing. For those reading this page from outside the state, we want you to know that our Smoky Hill landscape is full of beautiful rolling hills and bluffs. Come spend time with us as a traveler, or consider relocating to Ellsworth.
 

An interesting history tour of Ellsworth is chronicled at the KansasPrairie.net

 

 

 

 

 

Drovers Mercantile: the place for local history items and period clothing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the devastating fire in November, 1875, which destroyed all  of the wood buildings in this commercial block, Perry Hodgden, a prominent merchant built his house on this block, but wisely used stone.  His house still stands today as a museum.  Due to the fire, most of the business moved from Main street to Douglas street, which is now the heart of the commercial district of Ellsworth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Street, now the main commercial area for Ellsworth, looking north 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street: Ellsworth circa 1870s

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street circa 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the site of this old grain elevator were the huge stock pens that contained the thousands of cattle that would be brought up from Texas for purchase and railroad transport back east

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the remaining buildings of Ft. Harker: the guardhouse

An excellent history of the fort can be found at the "Santa Fe Trail" research site.

Also see the Kansas State Historical Society section on the "Kansas Forts"