Archive for Friday, October 8, 2010

Possible covered wagon wheel discovered in Kansas River east of Second Street

A wagon wheel sits in a low-water area of the Kaw River.

A wagon wheel sits in a low-water area of the Kaw River.

October 8, 2010

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Possible wagon wheel found in Kansas River

Luke Stone was scouting out the river when he found a wheel he believes could be from Oregon Trail days. Historians aren't so sure, though. Enlarge video

Lawrence resident Luke Stone examines a wagon wheel he unearthed from a low point in the Kansas River. Stone said he and several friends discovered the wheel and several pieces of what appeared to be an old wagon.

Lawrence resident Luke Stone examines a wagon wheel he unearthed from a low point in the Kansas River. Stone said he and several friends discovered the wheel and several pieces of what appeared to be an old wagon.

The outline of a second wagon wheel, covered by rocks and sand, protrudes from the water in the Kansas River, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. Luke Stone discovered another wheel while on a muddy island in the river just east of Second Street.

The outline of a second wagon wheel, covered by rocks and sand, protrudes from the water in the Kansas River, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. Luke Stone discovered another wheel while on a muddy island in the river just east of Second Street.

An old nail protrudes from the sand near where Luke Stone discovered a wagon wheel in the Kansas River Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010.

An old nail protrudes from the sand near where Luke Stone discovered a wagon wheel in the Kansas River Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010.

A wagon wheel sits in a low-water area of the Kansas River, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010.

A wagon wheel sits in a low-water area of the Kansas River, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010.

Luke Stone believes he has found a pioneer covered wagon in the Kansas River just east of Second Street.

On Thursday, the Lawrence resident and a friend went to see about building a sculpture on a muddy island in the middle of the river.

Instead, Stone found what he believed to be a piece of the past.

“We stumbled upon a huge wagon wheel,” said Stone.

The wheel was too heavy to pick up so he went home and started doing online research about wagon wheels. He said everything he saw online looked exactly like what he saw in the river.

“I saw the thing the wagon is pulled by and the hinge that it locks to and I saw the sides and the frame,” he said. “It was a metal frame that had been bent.”

The Oregon Trail used to run through this region and such a find is possible. But Wakefield Dort, emeritus professor at Kansas Univesity who has been studying the geology and history of the river for more than 50 years, says because of corrosion it’s not likely the pioneer wheel would have survived.

“In the 1951 flood the river was extremely powerful and there were large machines that were washed down and broken up so it’s unusual to have any object, even not that old, preserved,” said Dort.

The geologist says it’s more likely to find objects such as bison bones in the river because they can be preserved easier.

But Dort isn’t counting out the possibility of the pioneer wheel find. He says at this point it’s too early to tell.

“We don’t know enough about it yet,” he said. “It’s going to take a professional crew to get down there and dig it up properly.”

Comments

walkthehawk 4 years, 7 months ago

your oxen, and everyone in your party, have drowned.

whats_going_on 4 years, 7 months ago

lol! love it.

I miss that game (the original one)

4 years, 7 months ago

"because of corrosion it’s not likely the pioneer wheel would have survived"

Not buying that. There are objects older than a wagon wheel being found in pristine condition all the time. It's possible it was buried in just enough sediment to protect it from the current.

gccs14r 4 years, 7 months ago

Those are not related thoughts. It's obviously a wooden wagon wheel, but it's not obviously a mid-19th-century pioneer wagon wheel. It could be an early-20th-century wagon wheel washed away from someone's farm in the '51 flood. What Professor Dort is saying is that a wooden wheel wouldn't last as long in the river as a bison bone would.

Practicality 4 years, 7 months ago

Pretty cool find, although it is still a little early to know exactly how old it is.

beatrice 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm guessing it is from a 1970s coffee table. Final answer.

evilpenguin 4 years, 7 months ago

Following the filming of "When Harry met Sally"? :p

overthemoon 4 years, 7 months ago

Ok, had something funny to say, but Bea has trumped all. I demure.

infidel 4 years, 7 months ago

The steamboat Arabia sank in Kansas City in 1856, it was found intact with all of its cargo. Of course KU prof knows all.

gccs14r 4 years, 7 months ago

The Missouri river was free-running in the 19th century and quickly buried the Arabia in anaerobic mud. The Arabia did not remain in the main channel, continually exposed to oxygen, moving sediment, and the pressure of flowing water.

notajayhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

"it was found intact with all of its cargo"

In a field, not in the river.

angel4dennis 4 years, 7 months ago

Congrats on the find Luke! This would be amazing if it really is that old. Wagon whells are not so common these days, lol. It definitely would be a great piece to add to the history of Lawrence. Can't wait to hear more!

budwhysir 4 years, 7 months ago

the wheels in the river go squeek squeek squeek

budwhysir 4 years, 7 months ago

today like yesterday I mentioned to my buddy fred that I wondered what happened to that wagon wheel he had in his front yard. He replied saying that on a dark foggy night a team of zombies came through and as the sun started to rise the borrowed his wagon wheel to move a wagon across the street. A promise of payment was made for rent and they signed a rental deed that declared they would return the wheel next month.

Sarah St. John 4 years, 7 months ago

Wait a minute, I think I figured it out!

(grumble grumble dang things falling in the river all the time mutter mumble)

Practicality 4 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, but I don't think that wagon fell in the river. I think it said they unhitched it on the bridge.

Dan Thalmann 4 years, 7 months ago

I guess I'm not getting why this is that big a deal. Here in rural Kansas (north central part) wagon wheels are all over the place as yard art, stored in sheds and barns, etc. Not common, but definitely not uncommon.

booyalab 4 years, 7 months ago

that's awesome, thanks for posting it

from the link, "As elementary schools adopted revamped versions of the game in the '80s and early '90s, it skyrocketed to popularity with 11-year-olds everywhere who were more than happy to pretend they were actually learning something from a video game."

I played it when I was 7! I always knew I was gifted.

volleydad 4 years, 7 months ago

Best keep that wheel wet, or it'll self-destruct if it's been in the water that long.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 7 months ago

Sarah, from the details in your 100-years-ago story doesn't sound like Mrs. Farmer's wagon wound up in the drink. just some draft horses with sore backs who needed massage.


Rural Wanderer, here in lawrence people often forget their history. then when it shows up it like hits them in the face man.

Sarah St. John 4 years, 7 months ago

grin I know I know.... they did rescue Mrs. Farmer and her children. It is still pretty fresh in my mind (writing it, not witnessing it, of course. I'm not THAT old.) And yeah, my husband winced when he saw that they had to let the horses fall down. At least they survived!

independant1 4 years, 7 months ago

question? Will "big wheel keep on turnin, rollin on the river"

Kris_H 4 years, 7 months ago

If it's a piece of yard art, why is there apparently another one? Do folks have two yard art wheels, or whole wagons?

Interesting find, at least it's not a beer can or a water bottle.

Dan Thalmann 4 years, 7 months ago

Kris_H, Yes. Plenty of people with whole wagons (definitely in weathered form), 150 year old farm implements, etc. Several authentic wagons (the ones that stayed in sheds) still being pulled by horse teams in parades. Others, Take a trip west and drive around small towns for a change. There is still an obvious connection to the pioneer days gone by.

del888 4 years, 7 months ago

"The wheel was too heavy to pick up so he went home and started doing online research about wagon wheels". So.... is the wheel still in the river? Hope it doesn't rain tonight.

Brad Maestas 4 years, 7 months ago

Nice find, Luke! You really are a media whore. :D

blindrabbit 4 years, 7 months ago

Luke: Great find! You probably already know this; but to help preserve the wheel, make sure you keep it wet until you can stabilize it some way (maybe ethylene glycol mix). When I was working on the Patuxent River (Part of Chesapeake Bay) we dredged-up at British War of 1812 anchor, complete with wooden stock and anchor chair. We had it out of water about 12 hours and it began to deteriorate (both metal and wooden parts). A call to the Smithsonian gave us the advice on how to preserve the anchor; they eventually indicated they wanted for museum inclusion; we complied. Good luck!!

George_Braziller 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm surprised one of the Hill family allowed him to even set foot on the river. They seem to think they own it. I tried it once at low flow to walk onto a sandbar near the bridge and Hill came rushing out in his suit and tie to tell me I had to leave or I'd be arrested for trespassing.

Boosh 4 years, 7 months ago

Nah, y'all are wrong. It's one of them new wheels for low profile tires, you know, the ones made for big disc brakes but people forget to put the discs on.

notajayhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Just think, a century and a half from now, people will find wheels in the river from another outmoded and archaic form of transportation, although one which was much less useful and less frequently utilized for any great purpose.

They will have a big "T" on the hubcap.

dotteboy 4 years, 7 months ago

Looks like a Roy Rogers garage sale wagon wheel coffee table to me.

rtwngr 4 years, 7 months ago

It's the wheel that we shouldn't try to reinvent.

So professor Know-It-All, exactly what did you know and when did you know it?

"Harumph, harumph, harumph."

Very well said, sir.

Louis White 4 years, 7 months ago

The diameter of the spokes near the perimeter are too thin to have been designed to bounce in and out of rocky slews, such as would be the case in early planes migration. It probably was designed to traverse even, maliable soil; as such, it appears to be a farm implement, probably a horse-drawn cart wheel from around the turn of the century. Just kidding, I really don't know the hell it is, but that would be my guess.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 7 months ago

--day 48--

we forded that little river them injuns called the Wakyrooza or somthin like that and turned north.
we saw a charming view of grains and grasses to the east, trees by their prairie waters.
and to the left, a boney little mountain rose up from the prairie.
Ma pointed at its brow (where Spooner Hall is today) and said with wonder in her: "Pa! Look, we could put our house right thar! The sun would warm us in the morning and we would always have this wondrous view (sweeping her arm to the north and then east)!" Pa jes snorted and said, " naw! cain't grow anything on that bilious little mountain! 'sides, that don't even look conducive to intelligent life fer gawd's sake!" "conducive fer intelgent life! Pa, whatcha sayin' man!" "I dunno, jes came up on me all sudden like."

and so, our forefather and foremother pioneers just kept going northward. they proceeded another ten minutes, when they came to the Kaw River.
(cont'ed)

bearded_gnome 4 years, 7 months ago

Standing next to their wagon carrying all of their possessions and three farm animals at their side, Ma and Pa surveyed the river from about where the river front mall sits.
"Pa, shouldn't you ask fer directions? find some fella who's crossed before?" "Naw, I got us this far allright, didn't I? I jes wanna walk up this here river a short wag and do some lookin'" ... "I sees the best place to cross Ma, jes up here." so they went that short distance, in fact Pa was right, part of the slow moving river was very shallow there and even a sand bar stuck up in the river.
Poor Ma trusted him, and went along with their animals.
... well, that wheel got stuck in the mud and then another one, but they'd'a made it except ... Pa got out to work with his shovel to unstick his wheels. Ma got out to lighten the wagon.
... suddenly a swarm of Kaw River skeeders attacked them, and after ten minutes Pa went crazy a'wavin' his arms, yelling something about fire and brimstone, and he done ran off, tripped and drowned in the river.
but Ma was tough. she took the critters, a five pound poke of flour, and an iron fry pan and hiked back to the southside. she kept going. and near that point on the billious little mountain that she loved she built a boarding house for college students she knew were a'comin'!

RKLOG 4 years, 7 months ago

A wagon wheel probably would survive, being submerged in the anaerobic condition of this river. I've found wood items from the past before in the Kansas River out in Eudora. There's nothing inconsistent about finding wood items, from this time period, here as well.

anal 4 years, 7 months ago

What about the steamboat Arabia? Haven't any of you been to the museum in KC? It is amazing what condition that is in after they recovered it.

See for yourself:

http://1856.com/

I would suggest if there is a whole wagon there -- consult with experts before bringing it up as it could be preserved if done correctly. If done incorrectly -- well, it won't be pretty

bearded_gnome 4 years, 7 months ago

(Sarah St. John) replies …

grin I know I know.... they did rescue Mrs. Farmer and her children. It is still pretty fresh in my mind (writing it, not witnessing it, of course. I'm not THAT old.) And yeah, my husband winced when he saw that they had to let the horses fall down. At least they survived!

---LOL, Sarah I didn't think you had witnessed it! that would take more than Wheaties!

yes, I winced too! bet those horses had a good story to tell.

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