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Historic Resources of the Soule Canal

Thematic Nomination and Multiple Property Documentation
National Register of Historic Places

Statewide / Multi-County

This multiple property document provides a context for understanding the Soule Canal, a 96-mile-long earthen ditch constructed in the late 19th century to carry water from the Arkansas River to farms in southwest Kansas for irrigation purposes. The document discusses irrigation in the Arkansas River valley in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and brothers John and George Gilbert and Asa Soule, the developers and financier who carried out this ambitious plan to irrigate southwest Kansas. The Soule Canal was named after investor and New York native Asa Soule. The project began in April 1884 and was completed in 1889. It took two years, 60 horses, 150 men, and between $250,000 and $1 million to dig the channel that stretched from Ingalls in Gray County to Spearville in Ford County. The canal was a complete failure, due in part to the nature of its construction, including a risk of side slopes collapsing and water loss due to seepage, and the fact that there was nobody in charge of maintaining it. Attempts to revive the canal in 1909 and 1931 were unsuccessful. Property types identified in the document include earthen canal segments, the sump, and pumps.


Associated Properties