Kansas site closer to getting commemorative site status

Quindaro Ruin May Soon Receive Federal Funds

July 29, 2018 - 2:52 pm

The U.S. House of Representatives has boosted efforts to upgrade a historic archaeological site in Kansas City.

The House recently passed legislation that could make Quindaro Townsite a National Commemorative Site through the National Park Service.  The designation would allow the area to get new assistance from the government, such as help with planning, exhibit design and archaeological surveys.

"The first mention of an effort to preserve this historic site is found in a local newspaper more than 90 years ago. Unfortunately, nine decades have passed without much significant investment in the site," said Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas, who proposed the House bill.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced a similar Senate bill that will be considered by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The site was once a key spot on the Underground Railroad and a flourishing abolitionist community. The area began to languish after competition from other Missouri River ports following the Civil War and other economic pressures.

The area is struggling with poverty and more should be done to help improve Quindaro, said Jim Ogle, executive director of Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, which is pushing for the designation.

"To look at it now all you would see is a lot of overgrowth but you would literally need to stand at the overlook and sort of imagine where all these various buildings would have been," said Gordon Criswell, the deputy county administrator for the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County.

Federal assistance could help preserve the foundations of the town's original buildings, which are deteriorating, Criswell said.

"It is a diamond in the rough. That's how we see it here in Kansas," he said. "And we want to try and add some glitter to that diamond."

Advocates also hope to improve the area's walking trails and build a visitor's center.

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