Visit the site of an ancient civilization in Arkansas City

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Tour guide Sandy Randall tells visitors about the conflux of the Arkansas City and Walnut Rivers where Indian artifacts, Spanish artillery and mysterious rock art are visible along the banks of the ever-changing rivers, from Inspiration Point which overlooks the location at Camp Horizon near Arkansas City.
Natural land bridges and deep spring caverns once provided cover for Etzanoa braves as they battled with Spanish conquistadors in the 1600s, now presently part of Arkansas City suburbia.

Since 2015, when Kansas anthropologist Dr. Donald Blakeslee pinpointed an ancient Native American settlement of more than 20,000 people called Etzanoa at the conflux of the Arkansas and Walnut Rivers in Arkansas City, more artifacts and information have come to light about the ancestors of the Wichita Indian tribe, as well as about Spanish conquistadors on the plains.

With more than 95 percent of the ancient city located under privately owned land in and around current city limits, progress is slow in developing excavations and public tours to better understand what happened the early 1600s when Spanish explorer Juan de Onate found himself and his band of  70 soldiers caught between the large Etzanoa settlement and a nomadic tribe of fierce warriors, the Escanjaques.

Today, the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum in Arkansas City, offers tours for those wishing to stand on Inspiration Point (a bluff above the conflux of the two rivers) and imagine the great civilization that once existed there, as well as see where Onate brought the Spaniards across the great rivers. Tourists may cross natural stone land bridges above gurgling springs where the first standup battle between the cannons and muskets of Onate and the tactical stone arrowheads of Indian warriors occurred.

There are also a variety of trails to hike, artifact collections to view, and history to experience first-hand through special museum presentations and mini-archeological digs for educational groups.

Fun (or interesteing) fact: Ancient rock art discovered in an Arksansas City neighborhood becomes an mysterious map when wet. As water is poured over the face of the huge boulder, it illuminates carved miniature steps and shallow channels which reveal a secret map whens the smooth face of the rock dries and the indentions stay wet.

Where: Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum and Etzanoa Conservancy, Inc., 31639 U.S. Highway 77, Arkansas City, Kansas 67005

Entry fee: Adults $4.50, Seniors $3.50, Children 12-under free; tour rates and room rentals available.

More information is available at www.etzanoa.com.

Ark dig - Students from Wichita State University and Cowley College take part in an archaeological dig at a specified point determined by recent map discoveries at The Lost City of Etzanoa in Arkansas City, Kansas.