Water's effect on Kansas settlers topic of Thursday talk in Colby

Special to The Hays Daily News

COLBY -- The Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby invites the public to a free noon discussion and lunch as Kansas Geological Survey Interim Director Rex Buchanan talks about the profound effect water has had on the settlement of Kansas.

The presentation will be at noon Thursday in the museum's Garvey Education Room, 1905 S. Franklin, Colby. Reservations are not required for the free event. Lunch is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Donations are welcome.

Buchanan will lead discussions on the role of water as the state was settled and its importance through history. He compares the different settlement patterns, industry and culture of the western areas versus the East and how people took root as a direct result of water availability.

In the eastern part of the state, Buchanan said, surface water is abundant but groundwater is relatively scarce. On the other hand, where surface water is scare, groundwater is abundant in the western areas.

"It's impossible to truly understand Kansas without understanding water in the state," Buchanan said. "It affects who we are, where we live and what we do as Kansans. Springs, streams and groundwater all play a critical role in Kansas history."

A native of Kansas, Buchanan grew up on the edge of the Smoky Hills near the Little River. In addition to his work with the Kansas Geological Survey, he has authored, co-authored, edited and compiled information for many books and works of literature, including "Roadside Kansas: A Guide to its Geology and Landmarks," "Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils" and "Kansas Groundwater."

From November through March, the museum sponsors the free Food for Thought program at noon on the third Thursday of each month.

In February, the featured speaker will be Angela Bates of the Nicodemus Historical Society, who will discuss "African American Domestics." Joan Nothern of the Solomon Valley-Highway 24 Heritage Alliance will present "Converting Pasture Paths to Public Roads" during this season's last program in March.

Contact the Prairie Museum's education director, Ann Miner, at (785) 460-4590 or email museumed@st-tel.net to learn about Food for Thought and this month's discussion.

Buchanan's featured presentation is part of the Kansas Humanities Council's Kansas 150 Speakers Bureau as they commemorate Kansas' sesquicentennial. The council conducts and supports community-based programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program and encourages Kansas to participate in their communities.

For information, call (785) 357-0359 or visit www.kansashumanities.org.