Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Faris Caves

In the mid 1880's, a Coloradan miner by the name of Charles Griffee purchased land adjacent to the Smoky Hill river and just west of the old Fort Harker in Ellsworth county. With trees being scarce along the open prairie during this time, pioneers had to be resourceful. A practice not uncommon was to use dugouts along rivers and bluffs for shelter and housing. Griffee, using his pickaxe and mining skills hollowed out 3 rooms(roughly 12' square with 10' arched ceilings) in his Dakota Sandstone bluffs as a living quarter. Offering cool air and fresh spring water, I'd guess this was pretty good living to a person settling on the prairie.

For reasons yet unknown, Charles Griffee sold his land to the Faris Brothers(Winfield and William) in 1893. Their brothers Henry and Irwin were already established along the Smoky Hill Trail with a hunting ranch on the Clear Creek crossing.

The caves have served as a home, smithy, refrigerator and schoolhouse...

Members of the Faris family in front of the caves

Need directions? Click Here

Hidden in dense vegetation and covered with inscriptions

Visiting the Faris Caves really opened my mind to a very fascinating history of Ellsworth county. Stories of gunslingers, murderers, gambling, prostitution, lawlessness and indian attacks are all things that made Ellsworth "The Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas"! If it strikes you fancy, check it out!


Ryan the Red said...

That is really interesting. I love seeing the old photo. All kind of hidden wonders out there! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Just spent a Sunday afternoon exploring the Faris caves and the Ellsworth countyside. What an enjoyable trip. My two sone (4 and 6) loved it as much as me.

Derek said...

That's great! My mom took me on adventures like that all the time when I was a kid. It really means a lot to me, looking back at those days.

Jessi Janes said...

I am not sure if you will see this or not but i was looking at you map of places in Kansas. I mapped your coordinates for the Farris Caves (the link that you put on this page) and it says "go North from this point). Can you clarify that? Does it mean once we get to these exact coordinates that we walk due North? Thanks for any help!

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the black/white picture above? Can you post the bibliography reference to the image?

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