Volunteers from around the state will gather at the First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site on Monday, Oct. 10, to help clean up the Kaw River Nature Trail that runs through the site.
The conservation department at Fort Riley has received a Department of Defense Legacy Award and is using those funds to purchase new benches and a new split rail fence along the trail. Volunteers will help thin out vegetation so trail users can get a better view of the river. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves and lawn tools. A limited amount of tools will be available at the site. For more information or to volunteer call Mike Houck at 785-239-2537.
As part of the cleanup day, Branson Francisco from Junction City Boy Scout Troop 64 will complete his Eagle Scout project. Francisco and his team of volunteers will install new signs along the trail and widen the bridge.
The stone building that was the First Territorial Capitol started its life as a warehouse in the small town of Pawnee, which was located near the frontier military post of Fort Riley.
Territorial Gov. Andrew Reeder and the Commandant of Fort Riley were engaged in promoting the town to further their own fimancial gain and picking the town fit into the promotion scheme. It was also located far from the border with pro-slavery Missouri.
The building wasn't even finished (it had no doors or windows) when the legislature met there for four days in 1855, the only session held in Pawnee. The work of the day was to choose a permanent site for the capital, create a constitution and decide if Kansas would be a slave state or a free state.
Instead the representatives met just long enough to kick out all the anti-slavery members and pass a bill to move the capitol to Shawnee Mission.
The building has been restored and is maintained as a museum where visitors can learn the stories of "Bleeding Kansas" and the battle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forcws.
First Territorial Capitol is located on Huebner road at Fort Riley and is open 1-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 1 – October 31.
Admission is free with a suggested donation of $3 adults and $1 students. For more information call 785-784-5535 or visit www.kshs.org.