Prairie City, Kansas

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Prairie City, Kansas
Ghost town
Prairie City location near the Midland Railway.
Prairie City location near the Midland Railway.
Prairie City, Kansas is located in Kansas
Prairie City, Kansas
Prairie City, Kansas
Coordinates: 38°45′37″N 95°12′48″W / 38.76028°N 95.21333°W / 38.76028; -95.21333Coordinates: 38°45′37″N 95°12′48″W / 38.76028°N 95.21333°W / 38.76028; -95.21333
Country United States
State Kansas
County Douglas
Elevation 1,037 ft (316 m)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 785
GNIS feature ID 482179[1]

Prairie City was a town site in southeast Douglas County, Kansas near present-day Baldwin City.


Prairie City was founded in 1855 by James Lane, Dr. William Graham, Louis (Lewis) F. Green and Salmon S. Prouty after a dispute between Graham and Henry Barricklow of nearby Palmyra.[2] A post office opened in 1856 with John R. Winton serving as postmaster. The Heber Institute was started by the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1856 but never opened. The building became Prairie City School District No. 1.[3]

The first printing press in Kansas was used in Prairie City by Prouty to publish The Freeman's Champion which ran for 40 weeks.[4] Prouty bought the press in 1857 from the Ottawa Baptist Mission in Franklin County. Prouty would leave Prairie City in 1868 and move to Topeka where he would found the Topeka Journal which would later merge to become the Topeka Capital-Journal[3]

Prairie City was incorporated on February 4, 1859 and at one time had three general stores and three hotels.[3] Prairie City was the rendezvous point for John Brown and his men the night before initiating the Battle of Black Jack.[5] When the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Fort Gibson laid tracks through the area, there was a depot at Baldwin and two miles southwest at Prairie City. Thinking that was impractical, a new depot was built between the two towns and named "Media".[4] The Prairie City post office, opened in 1856, was moved to Media in 1878, and was finally closed in 1903.[6] The Media library was used as a tool shed in the Prairie City Cemetery for years until being torn down in 2012.

Prairie City Cemetery

On March 24, 1883, Douglas County commissioners had certain streets and alleys vacated.[3] Today, little remains to mark the city except a few houses, a cemetery and the ruins of an old Catholic church. The Midland Railway from Baldwin passes by a sign pointing out where the depot, newspaper, post office and store used to be.


  1. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Historical Sketch of Prairie City by George H. Butell, 1971 (KSHS Collection)
  3. ^ a b c d Litteer, Loren K. A Self-Guided Tour of Baldwin City's Historical Sites, 1997
  4. ^ a b Butell, George H. Where Was Prairie City, 1972 (KSHS Collection)
  5. ^ Ghost Towns of Kansas: A Traveler's Guide by Daniel Fitzgerald, University Press of Kansas, 1988.
  6. ^ "Kansas Post Offices, 1828-1961, page 2". Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved 8 June 2014.