Historic Lake Scott State Park

Historic Lake Scott State Park

Hidden in the western Kansas prairie, Historic Lake Scott State Park is a startling oasis of natural springs, deep wooded canyons, and craggy bluffs. The 1,020-acre park surrounds the 100-acre, spring fed Scott State Fishing Lake. The park has 55 utility campsites, including some with 50-amp service and water hookups. Three modern shower buildings, 100 primitive campsites, and several vault toilets are also available. Visitors will enjoy a swimming beach and playground. A privately operated concessions building stocks camping and fishing supplies. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are also available at the concession facility seasonally. Nature trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders, and naturalists and provide excellent opportunities to observe wildlife in natural habitats. Wild turkey, deer, bobcat, and beaver are common in the area. A horse camp area provides amenities for equestrian visitors.

101 W Scott Lake Dr.

Steele Homestead

Herbert Steele first came to Scott County in 1888 and found the present state park area to be an ideal location for homesteading. He married Eliza Landon five years later. Their first home was a simple dugout, which they later updated to a four-room house using sandstone gathered from the surrounding bluffs. The Steele home has been preserved much as it was over a hundred years ago and serves as a museum displaying the furnishings and tools used by early settlers. The Steele’s farm was the setting for many outings due to the unique canyons and the superb fishing and hunting. In 1928, 1,280 acres, including the Steele Homestead, was acquired by the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission, becoming the present day State Park.


El Cuartelejo Ruins

Nearly two centuries before the Steeles homesteaded the area, a group of Taos Indians fleeing Spanish rule migrated to the park region. In 1664 they constructed pueblos and cultivated crops using a system of irrigation ditches from a nearby spring. From the pueblos came the name El Caurtelejo, meaning “old barracks" or "building.” It is the northernmost pueblo in the United States. They lived here for 20 years and then returned to their homes in the South.

El Caurtelejo was later reoccupied in 1701 when a group of Picurie Indians settled there for about two years. The last known reference to the El Cuartelejo site was 1727, after which it was abandoned and left to the ravages of weather and erosion. It disappeared, leaving no scar on the Kansas plains except a slight mound and some irrigation ditches, which were later used by Herbert Steele for his large truck garden enterprise.

In the mid-1890’s, the pueblo ruins were discovered by Steele and excavated by H.T. Martin and Prof. S.W. Williston from the University of Kansas. The El Cuartelejo Ruins achieved National Historical Landmark Status in 1964. In 1970, the Kansas Historical Society carried out an extensive program of excavation and restoration of the area. The present site allows the visitor to see the pueblo site with its foundation reconstructed.

Contact Lake Scott State Park at 620-872-2061.

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