Alcove Spring is a spring of fresh water flowing from the side of the alcove into the basin below the Naomi Pike 10-12 foot falls, all in a woodland setting. The spring has never been known to dry up, even during severe Kansas droughts. Today, the spring is part of a 223 acre park owned by the Alcove Spring Historical Trust and operated by its Preservation Association.
From May 26-31, 1846, the Donner-Reed party camped at the crossing, waiting for the flooding river to quiet. One of the frontiersman found the Alcove Spring site and another engraved the name in the rock at the top of the falls. On May 29th, Sarah H. Keyes, 70, the mother-in-law of the co-leader, James R. Reed, died. Blind and deaf and suffering from consumption, she was traveling to Idaho to see a son. Her gravesite has been lost, but the park monument is inscribed, “God in His love and charity has called in this beautiful valley a pioneer mother.”
Although the huge rocks have broken from the ledge, the engravings “Alcove Spring” and JFR 26 May 1846 ( all that’s left of “J.F. Reed”) are visible on the rocks. The Donner-Reed Party was bound for California and the five-day delay (and poor judgment in attempting an untried route) caused the party to be marooned at the Sierra pass resulting in 36 dying of exposure and starvation.
Alcove Spring was the first Marshall County property entered on the National Register of Historic Places.rn