Threshing Machine Canyon.

Camille-Pissarro-The-Threshing-Machine- Threshing machine canyon was near Blufton, Ks, and got its name from a tragic incident  that occurred in 1867. Blufton was a stage stop. It lay on a trail blazed by John C. Freemont in 1844. The stage stations along the way consisted of Fossil Creek, Forsythe’s Creek, Big Creek, Louisa Springs, Blufton, Castle Rock, Grannell Springs and Chalk Bluffs.

Blufton became a handy campground for emigrants, and the nearby canyon was described as “A vast castle, fashioned by the most ancient architects.”

The incident occurred when freighters, transporting a threshing machine to Salt Lake City, Utah, camped in the canyon. Instead of camping in the open, as was the custom, due to Indians, they camped along a bluff overhang. Indians, who had been following the party, attacked that night, killing and scalping all the men, and set fire to the threshing machine.

For years, souvenir hunters would pick through what was left of the machine. Pieces of it are on display at the Fort Hays State College. The canyon was used for years as a camping and picnic area until the drought years cause it to fill up with a couple inches of dust. Weed seed grew and turned it into a veritable jungle, and it was basically abandoned. Wind and erosion has changed the bluff considerably. The Ceder Bluff Reservoir threatened it, but today, you can still visit it. The reservoir only came up to the bottom of the bluff. It’s located one mile West of the North end of the reservoir.



Filed under History, Kansas

4 responses to “Threshing Machine Canyon.

  1. iggydonnelly

    Jammer, this is a great post. I sent an email with a link to Pondie – didn’t want her to miss it.

  2. I really liked learning this too! I hadn’t ever heard of the canyon or its tragic past. Thank you!

  3. PrairiePond

    Hey guys! Jammer thanks for posting this. Yeah Fnord, it’s one story I didnt get around to telling. We were very near the spot on your visit out here. There is also, in the same place, one of the first known political cartoons. The Indians drew a hieroglyph of a “government man” and what he wanted to do to the Indians. It has almost faded away, and you do have to hike through some tall weeks to get there, but it’s quite the spot.

    If you all visit, I’ll be glad to take you there. Pieces of the machinery have been found on farmsteads in the area, used as gates, posts, etc.

    The trail it is on is called the Smoky Hill Trail, and the Butterfield Trail follows parallel to it in some spots. The Butterfield is the one that bisects my land.

    Thanks again for posting this!