The Kaw and Wakarusa rivers have carved their wide valleys around Mt. Oread during hundreds of thousands of years. The last great geologic event to impact the area was the Kansan glacier six hundred thousand years ago, leaving behind glacial till and rich alluvial soil. A few generations after the territorial settlements in these valleys have brought about a complete transformation of this landscape. The 1867 photographs of Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner show how the valley had changed after just the first decade of this settlement. Although grassfires were stopped around the town of Lawrence and the surrounding rural farms, the native trees already had been harvested completely for fuel and shelter. The arrival of the railroad allowed these and all other needed commodities to be transported from the East and the New England settlers planted imported varieties of grasses, trees, and crops throughout the hills and valleys. Recent photographs based upon Gardner's views show these changes and others which have resulted from only a few generations of settlement here.
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Vol. 105 • No. 1