Elk Falls and the River Canyon Area

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This beautiful natural falls on the Elk River is impressive – at least by Kansas standards – and makes a really nice roar. Impressive, too, is the deep boulder-strewn river canyon in which it is located. Dry year? Welcome to “Elk Trickle.”

The Falls, as it is known locally, is where the town of Elk Falls (pop. 120 or so) derives its name. The natural waterfall is about 10 ft. high and approximately 100 ft. wide, formed by the stone outcropping across the river. It was once the site of a waterpowered grist mill which was built in 1875. The water was originally channeled to one side by a log dam to turn the water turbine. Floods washed out the early wooden dams until the curved stone dam was constructed by Jo Johansen, a Swede from Minnesota. This stone dam is still standing after well over 100 years of floods. The falls are easily viewed from the 1893 iron truss bridge, or you can hike down to the water’s edge on the massive limestone slabs on either side of the river. It’s a great place for picnics, fishing, birdwatching, or just relaxing to the soothing sound of rushing water. As one of the most photographed sites in Elk County, the Elk Falls is a terrific example of the natural beauty of Southeast Kansas.

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