Thursday, November 03, 2011


Flooding had been common along the Kansas River since before the land was opened up to settlement. During the Great Depression and due to President Roosevelt's "New Deal", it was proposed that something be done to control flooding. It was proposed that the Kansas River be dammed. It was proposed that the dam would be placed 8 miles north of Topeka near the small town of Kiro in Shawnee County. The lake would then stretch across Shawnee, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee and Riley counties coming to an end near Manhattan, nearly 50 miles to the west.

Construction of the lake would require relocation of the Union Pacific and Rock Island Railroads, Highway 40 and Kansas Highway 10 and would essentially cause Rossville, Silver Lake, Valencia, Willard, Wamego, Wabaunsee, Maple Hill and St. Marys, among others, to be wiped off the map. While many residents of these areas and prominent people in Topeka were against the construction and practically forcing people off their land, it seemed more people were eager to have for the economic boom that could come from have a huge dam and lake nearby. The Kiro Dam was going to part of a series of dams that were to be built to control flooding on the Mississippi and construction on the first one, the Fort Peck Dam in Montana began and it was soon discovered that it would be the only major dam constructed in the Missouri River Basin.

Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City were all still on board with the Kiro Dam, mainly because it offered better protection to them without losing land. They also felt the Kiro Dam would cost less than building several tributary dams. But studies began showing that while Kiro would protect Topeka, Lawrence and KC other cities would remain vulnerable. A later study also showed that the protection offered by the dam would only be a fraction of the cost of construction and thus, not worth it.

The Kiro Lake (outlined in blue) with the dam (in red). Click to enlarge.
With the Kiro Dam now never going to built, the Army Corps of Engineers resorted to their usual brand of flood control with a complex levee system surrounding Kansas City but devestating floods the next couple of years caused people to demand a flood control system and while several tributary dams were approved, most were not given money because of local opposition. Only the Kanopolis Dam was built along the Smoky Hill River. Then came the Great Flood of 1951. That flood finally unified local and Federal governments into constructing additional dams. The only people not on board were the landowners. Tuttle Creek Lake, despite local opposition from landowners and the small towns of Randolph, Irving and many others, was constructed along the Big Blue River thus helping protect cities downstream along the Kansas River. Numerous lakes were soon built including Milford (1962-68), Perry (1964-70), John Redmond (1959-64) and Clinton (1972-80) to name a few.

A fart joke? I never thought I'd see The Born Loser stoop so low.

And who's Veeblefester to tell anyone they can no longer have burritos for lunch. I'll eat what I want, jackass.