Morton County, located in the Southwest Corner of Kansas, is home to Elkhart, Rolla, and Richfield. Elkhart, the county seat, is situated on the Oklahoma State Line and approximately 8 miles East of Colorado.
Morton County ... a land of contrast and historical diversification. Coronado traveled across this land on his return to Mexico. Kiowa and Apache Indians hunted buffalo until Army generals ordered the massacre of 400,000 in one day, believing "the only way to get rid of the Indians was to kill the buffalo."
Thirty-three miles of the Historic Sante Fe Trail cross 108,000 acres of the Cimarron National Grassland. Today one can still see ruts and the site where freight wagons camped at Middle Spring and used Point of Rocks as a lookout point from 1821-1880.
A former trading post, Richfield became the county seat. It was shot up on many a Saturday night by cowboys who traveled the National Cattle Trail from Texas to Nebraska because of the cattle quarantine.
The Sante Fe Trail Railroad headed southwest from Dodge City, and the towns of Rolla, Wilburton and Elkhart sprung up along the southern border because of the tracks.
Morton County was established in 1886 and after several battles for the county seat, it was moved from Richfield to Elkhart in 1961.
A land of notable people, two Olympic medal winners ... Glenn Cunningham and Thane Baker call Morton County "home". Elease Tucker, 1962 World Barrel Racer trained and practiced her sport in Morton County.
Ranching and farming were the main businesses until the latter 1950's when natural gas was discovered. Land owners who have retained their "mineral rights" during the Dirty 30's realized their "dream" and the country became prosperous and progressive..
Available for fun and relaxation is a nine hole golf course, hang gliding, riding club, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, bird watching and in the summer, you will find baseball/softball for every the very young to the older adults on the many baseball fields. Wintertime activities include adult basketball teams, trapshooting, volleyball, aerobic classes for everyone and there is a roller skating rink in Rolla.
People seek the pools during the summer months in Elkhart and Rolla. Elkhart has opened a new, Olympic size facility that includes slides and a kiddie area. A pool house accommodates the swimmers. Both Pools are heated.
The newest city park, Whistle Stop Park, runs parallel to the railroad tracks of Elkhart and covers 23.5 acres. Visitors will find a trail suitable for walking, roller blading, bicycling, or relaxing on benches next to the trail.
Small parks within the communities have their own enhancements . Depending on the park, one may find cooking facilities, picnic areas, playground equipment or tennis and basketball courts.
The U.S. Cimarron National Grassland, north of Elkhart, is the largest parcel of public land in the State of Kansas. Trails allow visitors to see first hand the native flora and fauna indigenous to the area. Wild turkeys, Prairie Chickens booming, rattlesnakes, elk and antelope can be spotted among the wildlife of the grasses.
Also included in the 108,000 acres of the U.S. Cimarron National Grassland, are bird watching, fishing ponds and picnic areas. The Atwood Ponds, also known as the Cimarron Recreation Area, has been improved, it has a campground, drinkable (potable) water, rest room facilities, a dock accessible for persons with disabilities and a designated group area that can be rented.
USDA Forest Service office, located on U.S. Highway 56 in Elkhart, offers information about auto tours, hunting and fishing. Stop by the U.S. Forest Service's office in Elkhart and see their display of the numerous fossil bones that have been found. They were sent off to be studied and found most of them to be Camel bones.
Visitors will want to see the "8 mile Corner", where the States of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma meet. It is located 8 miles west of Elkhart on the State Line Road and is marked with the Three State Windmill.
The Kansas State Flower, the Sunflower, grows abundantly along road sides and across fields. Their cheerful faces change directions as the sun sets.
The Richfield Methodist Church, built in the 1800's still serves an active congregation. The bricks in the building were made in Richfield. This church is one among 18 churches in the Morton County area supported by the residents of this southwest county of Kansas. Social activities as well as religious functions keep the many houses of worship busy.
The Morton County Historical Society Museum houses memorabilia from a by gone era depicting the early days of Morton County when people lived in dugouts and attended one room school houses. The First State Bank has been recreated and the shiny old car is a sight to see. Though the museum is young, it houses a broad variety of things used by the early residents, such as farm machinery, medical equipment and household objects that reflect the endurance of these hearty people. There is something to capture the interest of all who wander through the many rooms of exhibits.
The Museum offers researchers primary sources of histories of Morton County and the Sante Fe Trail. It also contains family history files, a large photograph collection, as well as newspapers and maps. Schools, scouts, local clubs and organizations use the museum for meetings and educational tours and programs. Film and video equipment is available for use. The old one room school house and the red caboose that symbolizes the taming of the "American Desert" and the end of the Sante Fe Trail are located on the grounds as well as an old barn and church. As you drive up to the museum there is the Veterans Memorial for people to stop and remember loved ones who served their country.
The WPA Bridge - The bridge was completed in 1939 as part of the Works Progress Administration or WPA. The WPA was one of many programs of President Roosevelt’s "New Deal" administration designed to help the nation recover from the Great Depression. At 96 feet in length and 28 feet wide, here where you would least expect it, is located one of the longer stone arch bridges in the state. Due to its unique and historic properties, the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.