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Bartlett Arboretum

Submitted by on May 15, 2011 – 7:08 pmNo Comment

In the early 20th century, tree-lined parks were a rarity in south-central Kansas — mostly a vast expanse of treeless prairie. Most townsfolk regarded trees as simply places to seek shade, but they became Dr. Walter E. Bartlett’s absorbing interest. The physician, naturalist and civic leader in Belle Plaine, Kansas, acquired 15 acres on the edge of town in 1910.

He liked the terrain and thought its soil and water flow would be ideal for growing trees even though not much more than a slough ran through the property. He had a dam built, and created a lake. He lined walkways and drives and stream banks with all kinds of indigenous trees.

Dr. Bartlett’s son, Glenn, continued adding to the “tree museum” with varieties of nonindigenous trees that couldn’t be found anyway else in Kansas. They dredged dirt from the lake, which came to be known as Euphrates Creek, to build islands and connected them with bridges.

Eventually, the site became the Bartlett Arboretum, the only one between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The current steward of the arboretum, 20 miles south of Wichita, Kansas, is Robin Macy, a singer and founding member of the Dixie Chicks.

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