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  • Last modified 189 days ago (April 17, 2019)

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Pathfinder speaks to historical society

Staff writer

Brian Stucky says he lives to uncover things that have been hidden, like graves, foundations, and old trails.

Stucky presented a slide show April 9, during the annual meeting of Marion County Historical Society, of 32 trails he has pinpointed that ran through Marion County. His newest findings since Christmas include one this previous week.

Indian trails are usually single lines, while wagon trails are parallel.

He studies old government surveys as part of his extensive research of old trails. When he pinpoints approximate locations, he uses an L-shaped metal rod called a dowser to find it. The rod is lightly held in an upward angle and drops when it senses disturbed ground.

Stucky has pinpointed spots on the Chisholm Trail, Santa Fe Trail, Oregon Trail, and Cherokee Trail. He has identified and confirmed Indian trails such as the Kaw Indian Trail and Osage Trail.

In the early years of Marion County, land acquisitions were recorded in a register of deeds office in Junction City.

A railroad eventually was built from Marion County to Junction City along that route. Stucky searched for and found Indian and wagon wheel tracks on either side of the railroad tracks — from Junction City to Lost Springs, Lincolnville, Antelope, Marion, and Peabody. The Union Pacific rail-line still exists along that route.

Stucky located a 24-mile furrow that connected early settlers in western Marion County to Marion and Florence.

He also located the path Russian Mennonites took from Peabody in 1874 to the immigration house that was built for them by the railroad north of present-day Goessel.

Stucky said records show that the group arrived by train in Peabody at 8:30 in the evening, unloaded their wagons, and set out for their destination. They arrived at the immigration house at 3 a.m. the next morning.

Virgil Litke lives southwest of Marion. He said ruts from a trail that ran from Peabody to the Gnadenau settlement one-and-a-half miles southeast of present-day Hillsboro are plainly visible behind his homestead.

Stucky has a business, The Pathfinder, for people who need help in identifying long-lost historic sites.

He was born in western Harvey County. He taught art and photography for 38 years, 34 of those at Goessel High School.

Stucky wrote the book, “Hallowed Hardwoods, the Vintage Basketball Gyms of Kansas,” and is working on another book about pioneer and Indian trails in central Kansas.

Last modified April 17, 2019

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