Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Secrets of Southeast Kansas: Elk Falls

Located on U.S. 160 about five miles east of K-99, Elk Falls is named for its waterfall on the Elk River. As an added attraction, visitors to “The Falls” can soak up its natural beauty from the deck of an historic Pratt Truss bridge.

Constructed in 1893, the iron truss bridge was once on the main road through Elk Falls. Upon the completion of U.S. 160 in the late 1950’s, a significant amount of bridge traffic was re-routed to the new highway. Then in 1976 a raging flood demolished most of the structure’s wooden deck planks. Finally deemed unsuitable for vehicles, the bridge was condemned.

Yet in 1983, condemnation became preservation. The wooden planks were restored, with the bridge taking on a second life as travelers stopped by to stroll on the deck and view the waterfall. In 1994 the Elk Falls Bridge earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Falls” and its bridge can be found at the east end of Montgomery Street. The site has a picnic table and foot paths down to the water.

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