The Duck Pond at Hill City
Copied from a 1906 Atlas

The following articles were researched locally and will be presented here in chronological order. The "DUCK POND" as referenced throughout this presentation refers to a body of water located approximately just north of the current Solomon River bridge on Hwy US 283.
The Reveille
Jan 23, 1885

From the LOCAL section.

The Star twinkles for all Graham County.
The late rain is of untold value to the farmer.
Stone is worth one dollar per cord, quarried out.
A buffalo was seen northwest of town Monday night.
Mr. Steward has been sinking his well deeper this week.
There are large numbers of antelope in the county yet.
Gathering bones in this part of the county is about played out.
The DUCK POND lake south of town a short distance was the scene of lively skating during the past 10 days.

People's Reveille
July 1, 1909

A Sad accident!

Between nine and ten o'clock Saturday morning the citizens of Hill city were greatly shocked to learn the sad news that Earl Goff, the thirteen year old son of T.F. Goff, Jr had been drowned in the "DUCK POND" about a mile south of town.

Earl accompanied by two Weedman children and one of the Coleman children, had taken a herd of cows to pasture south of town and stopped on the way back to play in and around the "DUCK POND" before coming on to town. It seems Earl started to swim across the pond which was perhaps 60 feet wide and the deepest part about 10-12 feet deep from the north end when he sank out of sight.

Several people from Hill City went to the aid to search for the boy with rakes and forks, but it was his own brother, Ace who decided to dive in the water and search along the bottom. Ace located the body on his first dive and almost lost his own life by dragging the body to the surface and swallowing water himself.  His father grabbed him by the hair and drug him to the bank only to find that he had a grip on his drowned brother's arm.

May 18, 1911

To Fill the DUCK POND

Whereas public health is threatened by the conditions existing at the DUCK POND south of the depot, a call is hereby made for men and teams for Tuesday May 23 (next Tuesday) to fill the same. A piece of good road work can be accomplished and the pond filled by the same effort. The work will be under the supervision of the township trustee, Ed Clark.

H.C. Times
Historic Edition
Sept 8, 1949

Reminiscences of the Frontier of Kansas

When I read an announcement in the Hill City Times that a Pioneer Days was scheduled for September 9th and 10th, it occurred to me it might be of interest were I to relate some of the happenings of the early days of Graham County, where I landed in the fall of 1878, at a place named Millbrook, then in it's infancy. I was the first boy to live in that section. Mr. Cyrill Fountain was the first man to stake out a claim in that section, my father the second.

Millbrook, which was was my home for the next five years, eventually became the county seat and was quite a lively town until Hill City was voted the county seat and Millbrook then faded off the map. I note Hill City has honored the memory of some of of its founders in the naming of some of its streets.

The morning after my arrival I saw Hill City 3 miles distant. On close inspection I found it consisted of one small house painted white, a sod house and a corral.

I was much interested in the DUCK POND situated at Hill City's front door. It was made by a meteor which passed over the eastern part of the United States and landed in northwestern Kansas sometime in the 1870's, the roar of which I heard, but did not view the spectacle. The pond contained good water and the settlers filled their ice houses with ice cut from it, and out of which I hauled many a barrel of water.

Sometimes it was used for baptisms. In one instance Dam Hickman, the colored minister, was pulled under the water by Mary King whom he was emersing. They were soon rescued by the by the amused on-lookers.

I recall the beautiful green of the buffalo grass after a rain; the wind-blown tumble weeds; the lovely sunsets; the graceful antelope as it bounded swiftly over the prairie; the extinction of a remnant of passenger pigeons shot down for food, and the fine eating jack rabbits with which I helped supply the winter table.

To me, that country bore a certain charm that memories cannot erase.

Success to the celebration!

William H. Terrell (better known as Willie)
66 21st Street
Logansport, Indiana

Hill City Times

Memories of the Old DUCK POND

Old timers can recall the many activities which took place at the old DUCK POND which lay about one mile south of our 24-283 intersection on Main Street.

This body of water, some 500 feet in length about street wide and more than 300 feet deep at the west end, was nature's drinking fountain for both man and beast. Early settlers claimed the buffalo came from far and near to drink their fill of it's sparkling clear water. It was a gathering place for sure.

Baptismal services were conducted there, winter skating parties and a swimming pool deluxe. Probably the greatest water supply to be found on the prairie.

A dense growth of buffalo grass grew to the waters edge with its crystal clear water which never failed. In natural beauty it far exceeded any man made pool.

Men hauled water from the DUCK POND to Hill City residents at 10 cents a barrel. It furnished tons of ice each winter to supply the meat market on main street. A large dugout ice house was made in the north bank.

The writer has seen gatherings of as many as 200 people at a skating party but the old DUCK POND lost it's charm when it claimed the life of Earl Goff, the city dads declared vengeance. It became a village dump ground. The river moved north, high water washed in debris until not a trace of the old DUCK POND is left, only in the memory of a few small boys that lived around Hill City at the turn of the century.

O.D. Gauthier

October 2, 2004
Letter from Kansas State Historical Society

The Kansas Academy of Science does not record any meteor discoveries in the 1870's, only one in 1950, which of course doesn't mean a meteor didn't strike in Graham County in the 1870' s, just that that strike was not officially recorded.

So, was the Duck Pond a product of a meteor or some other natural phenomena?

Copied from a 1884 Map

© 1997 Graham County Historical Society

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