Friday, February 26, 2010

Teter Rock

 “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive." ~Eleanora Duse~

I've been a fan of Kansas day trips and travel since childhood. In my retirement years it has become more of a passion than a mere hobby, and I now pride myself on being familiar with much of the state. Only recently, however, did I learn of Teter Rock. Perhaps I saw a photo posted on Flickr, or maybe I learned about it through one of the Kansas Explorer Club communiqu├ęs. In either case, I added Teter Rock to my "Destination Bucket List," but never seemed to be in that part of the state at a time when I could check it out until last autumn.

It happened on the Thursday when Nancy and I were en route to Winfield for our annual visit to the Walnut Valley Festival. We exited the interstate at Cassody, drove around the deserted streets for a few minutes trying to find the road out to Teter Rock, and then found someplace  open - the little post office. The lady there appeared to be bored and lonely, but was quite friendly and willing to offer expert directions. It was easier to find than I had anticipated.

What is Teter Rock? It is a landmark, yes, but not a natural rock formation as the name might lead you to believe. It is a monument to John Teter. Finding that early homesteaders bound for their claims in the Cottonwood River Valley often became disoriented in the expanse of the Flint Hills, Mr. Teter erected a pile of rocks (apparently large enough to visible from a distance) at the crest of the highest hill in the area to serve as a marker. 

In the 1920s, those stones were deemed to be more useful as building materials for the booming oil town of Teterville than as a directional marker. When the oil was gone, the town disappeared as well, leaving only a few random stone and concrete foundations viewable today. The huge stone monolith seen today is a memorial erected in the 1950s by the descendants of John Teter.

By itself, the monument might not be worthy of too much attention. However, those few folks who make the trek over gravel roads, then a dirt ranch road, to view Teter Rock find it to be a memorable experience. The vista is breath-taking, especially when the prairie is green and the wildflowers are in bloom as it was on that mid-September day that Nancy and I came calling.

It was glorious! The only sound was that of a light zephyr rippling the prairie grasses. Abundant spring and summer rains had created a brilliant show of yellow, gold, and blue wildflowers of many varieties. Not a soul could be seen - just a large herd of horses on a neighboring hilltop. Far to the east we could see the buildings of a single farm or ranch. What a great feeling - I could have stayed there for hours, taking in the beauty and solitude of that remote hilltop and surrounding Flint Hills. 

If you plan to visit Teter Rock, I would urge you to be mindful that you are: (a) on private land, allowed entry by the good nature of its owner; (b) in part of a fragile environment. Please be respectful, and take care of this beautiful portion of our state and world, leaving it as clean or cleaner than you found it upon your arrival. 

Want to know still more about Teter Rock and Teterville? Check out the Teter Rock page at Harland Schuster's Kansas Photo Tour:

© frank thompson's kansas journeys


  1. Good to see you posting again Frank! Teter Rock and the surrounding area in Greenwood County has always be one of my favorite areas.

  2. A great post. The wife and I visited Teter Rock today. What incredible views and the peacefulness of the place was wonderful. 6-19-2010

  3. I like to read about people visiting this spot and experiencing the beauty of the Flint Hills.
    My mom grew up around there and wrote about it in her book, My Flint Hills Childhood. Back then, it was an oil boom town and her Dad worked for Phillips Petroleum.