What’s next for the Quindaro Ruins?

The future looks brighter for the preservation of the historic Quindaro Ruins in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, after a bill passed the U.S. House on Tuesday. (File photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

An array of options may open for the future of the Quindaro Ruins in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, after the passage of a bill Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill names the Quindaro Ruins as a national commemorative site, and that could potentially open funding for programs through the federal government. The bill passed the Senate earlier and now goes to the president’s desk for a signature.

Ideas have been considered of tourists visiting the site on the Underground Railroad, attending educational and informational programs, and going on walking trails around the pre-Civil War era town that borders on the Missouri River.

Yet before any of that should take place, there is a need for more archaeological work at the site, said Marvin S. Robinson II, who has been advocating for preservation of the Quindaro Ruins for many years.

Robinson has hoped for a national historic landmark designation for the Quindaro Ruins, and this national commemorative site designation is considered to be a step toward that. Robinson said the landmark designation currently is under review now by the Interior Department, and a consultant is helping with the preliminary work necessary for that designation.

The designation project has picked up support from Freedom’s Frontier, the Unified Government and other groups in recent years.

The preservation efforts so far have had widespread support from the senators and representatives from Kansas. All voted for the national commemorative site designation bill.

Robinson said he hopes that as the project moves forward, the Quindaro community will be included at the table in the decision-making.

He said he also hopes Dr. Robert Hoard of the Kansas State Historical Society, an archaeologist, is part of the decision-making process and the plan of action at the site.

More archaeological work has not yet been approved, but Robinson said it is necessary. He discussed a LiDAR image process, where images are depicted of buildings and items that might be 20 to 30 feet beneath the surface. That would help identify where all the archaeological sites in the Quindaro Ruins are, he said. Then preservation and restoration techniques could be employed.

Not a great deal of archaeological work has been done at the Quindaro Ruins since it was proposed for a landfill in the mid-1980s, according to Robinson. Most of that work stopped when the landfill project was halted.

There has been some research in recent years, however, confirming that the Union Army rode at the Quindaro town site, including the 1st Kansas Army regiment, Robinson said. Several universities and colleges have participated in research efforts involving the Quindaro Ruins.

“We need to find out where all the archaeology sites were,” Robinson said. “We just have a smidgen of what was there.”

Robinson focused on a portion of the Quindaro area for the site project.

Quindaro was founded in 1856 by the Wyandot Nation, and was named after Quindaro Nancy Brown Guthrie, the spouse of the town’s founder, Abelard Guthrie. It was an abolitionist port town and grew to an estimated size of about 2,000 people. Many of the town’s residents left during or just prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War, exodusters settled near Quindaro, and the former Western University was built in the Quindaro area.

The bill that passed this week recognizes the historic significance of the Quindaro Ruins area, a haven for escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad in the pre-Civil War era. The town, a free-state port on the Missouri River at what is now 27th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, was populated largely by abolitionists and it went into decline around the Civil War. The ruins were abandoned until the 1980s, when archaeologists unearthed significant finds.

While the Quindaro site would not be considered a unit of the National Park system under this bill, the bill would allow local, state and federal governments to enter into agreements with entities to protect historic resources at the site and to provide educational and interpretive facilities and programs at the site for the public. It would allow technical and financial assistance to any entity which has an agreement with the Secretary of the Interior and the local and state governments.

An earlier story from Feb. 27, 2017, about the Quindaro Ruins historic project receiving UG’s approval, is online at http://wyandottedaily.com/quindaro-national-landmark-project-receives-ugs-approval/

The bill that passed Tuesday is online, Sec. 9008, p. 694 of SB 47, at https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20190225/BILLS-116s47-SUS.pdf

A news release from Rep. Sharice Davids: https://davids.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-sharice-davids-legislation-designate-quindaro-townsite-kansas-city-kansas

A news release from Sen. Pat Roberts: https://www.roberts.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=0AAF02CE-9906-4E10-B710-C93CAC97060C

To reach Mary Rupert, editor of the Wyandotte Daily, email maryr@wyandottedaily.com.

2 thoughts on “What’s next for the Quindaro Ruins?”

  1. Thank you Wyandotte Daily and Ms. Rupert- just a tiny clarification (on my part): I was trying to relay that the initiation original QUINDARO TOWNSITE covered adn/ or included 9 square miles =ing 780 acres.
    The only areas we’ve tried to focus on during the many years and efforts of historic preservation and restoration are the same exact areas; where the lines were drawn to make the QUINDARO RUINS / Underground Railroad -POMPEII of Kansas’ Free-Port-of-Entry off the Missouri where the now defunct toxic waste dump was going to be constructed.
    That area is 2016 acres, but: as it stands only have approximately 50 or so acres in the application as, I understand being considered for the hopeful NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK, NATIONAL COMMEMORATIVE SITE that’s already been included in the 2002 National Register of Historic Places official designation by the State of Kansas and the Department of Interior.
    AND yes the QUINDARO TOWNSITE, is and was host of the First and Second Kansas Colored Union Army Volunteer Regiments of the American Civil War, which is well documented in Kansas Historical Quarterly publications.
    And yes there is a need to stabilize the fragile foundations that are crumbling and disintegrating: like a professional Archeological Management Consultant and hopefully train and hire residents to help with appropriate techniques already well established in the archeological industries.
    THANK YOU to the Wyandotte Daily for helping to cover the many twist, leaps and set-backs over the seasons of trying to prepare a well restored QUINDARO RUINS with the optimum levels of quality; and longevity.
    And yes it would be nice to see if we can get LiDAR to in and get their technical equipment to help the public and decision makers alike get a better imagine of the extent of the structures: (that’s what I was trying to discuss in our conversation / but may have not explained the specifics, as clear) I was so hyped over finally getting the site at QUINDARO to the CONGRESSIONAL / Miracles- I probably wasn’t as clear. Anyone can look up the LiDAR info online and see how archeological sites are benefiting much better with more sophisticated state of the art equipment.
    And thank each, every, any and all for the many years of assistance or caring, or considerations about a very complicated project- that the Quindaro Townsite was, remains and still is.
    Marvin S. Robinson II
    QUINDARO RUINS / Underground Railroad- Exercise 2019

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