INGALLS, Kansas — The humble remnants of a 19th century canal that was part of a wealthy New York businessman's vision to irrigate southwest Kansas are among the state's latest nominees for the National Register of Historic Places.
Many of the structures nominated earlier this month by the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review are typical of those usually found on the Register: A church, an old gas station, a one-room school that now houses the Derby Historical Museum.
But two remaining segments in Gray County of the 96-mile Soule Canal, dug in the 1880s but ultimately a failure, were deemed worthy of nomination for their significance in agriculture, community development, engineering and archaeology, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/1mNGO1h ).
Named for Asa Titus Soule, who came to Kansas from upstate New York after making a fortune peddling a patent elixir, the canal was meant to carry water from the Arkansas River to southwest Kansas farms for irrigation.
It took two years, 60 horses, 150 men and between $250,000 and $1 million to dig the channel from Ingalls in Gray County to Spearville in Ford County, according to the Historic Sites Board of Review.
The canal failed, partly because of the erratic flow of the Arkansas River but also due to construction flaws. Any water that did flow through it seeped away into the sandy soil, and efforts to revive the canal in 1909 and 1931 were unsuccessful.
Earthen mounds of the old canal are still visible in part of Gray County and make up one of two segments nominated for the National Register. Also nominated is a portion located near U.S. 50 east of Ingalls — a town that Soule founded and initially named for himself but later changed.
Other sites among the Kansas board's latest round of nominees include First Congregational Church, Independence; Whitewater Falls Stock Farm, Towanda; Derby Public School, District 6, Derby; Masonic Grand Lodge Building, Topeka; Handel T. Martin House, Lawrence; Sunflower Village Historic District, DeSoto; craftsman-style homes in Emporia; and a Lane County farmstead that has been in the same family since the late 1920s.
Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com