Chase County’s Hidden Wealth by Alfred Eckes

Chase County’s Hidden Wealth: Quarries, Stone Cutters, and a Construction Empire:

Abundant deposits of native white limestone attracted stonecutters and quarrymen to Chase County, Kansas, in the 1870s. Some came to work on the new courthouse. They used beautiful Cottonwood limestone to construct buildings and railroads across the West from Chicago to San Francisco, and from Strong City to Mexico City.

Oil Painting by Joseph Loganbill

In this video historian Alfred Eckes revisits the golden era of the Chase County stone trade, and introduces some of the local quarrymen who put Chase County on the map in the late 19th century. Barney Lantry built a construction empire from his headquarters in Strong City. Phil Santy built the splendid double-arch bridge at Clements. David Rettiger designed many beautiful homes and buildings — including the Spring Hill home and barn on the Tallgrass National Preserve.

Eckes shows that the limestone barons contributed to the area’s cultural life. They built the Strong City Opera House. John Philip Sousa, the famous band leader, performed here in November 1902. In the 21st century Chase County limestone continues to be widely used for elegant buildings, construction, and agriculture.