Ladder Creek

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Ladder Creek
Beaver Creek, Chalk Creek
CountryUnited States
StateColorado, Kansas
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationFirstview, Colorado
 ⁃ coordinates38°48′45″N 102°32′37″W / 38.81250°N 102.54361°W / 38.81250; -102.54361
 ⁃ elevation4,565 ft (1,391 m)
MouthSmoky Hill River
 ⁃ location
Elkader, Kansas
 ⁃ coordinates
38°47′57″N 100°51′36″W / 38.79917°N 100.86000°W / 38.79917; -100.86000Coordinates: 38°47′57″N 100°51′36″W / 38.79917°N 100.86000°W / 38.79917; -100.86000[1]
 ⁃ elevation
2,631 ft (802 m)
Length230 mi (370 km)
Basin size1,407 sq mi (3,640 km2)
Basin features
WatershedsLadder-Smoky Hill-Kansas-Missouri-Mississippi

Ladder Creek is a 230-mile-long (370 km)[2] stream in the central Great Plains of North America. A tributary of the Smoky Hill River, it flows from eastern Colorado into western Kansas.[3][4]


Ladder Creek, also known locally as Beaver Creek, was named by a surveying party "who found a ladder imbedded in the grass by the creek, almost hidden. When they tried to pull it out, it broke to pieces. It was a great mystery what use a ladder could be to any one out there. The rounds or steps had been tied to the sides with rawhide. There were notches around the steps and also around the side poles. This was such an important find that the surveying crew called the stream Ladder Creek."[5]


Ladder Creek rises in the High Plains region of the Great Plains and generally flows east.[6] Its source lies just south of Firstview, Colorado in central Cheyenne County in the far eastern part of the state.[3] The river flows east into western Kansas, turning southeast in southern Wallace County and then east again in north-central Wichita County. Finally, in Scott County, it turns north, joining the Smoky Hill River at Elkader, Kansas in southwestern Logan County.[4]

In north-central Scott County, Ladder Creek has been dammed to form a small reservoir, Lake Scott.[4][7]


In 1664, a group of Taos people fleeing Spanish rule built a small pueblo on the west bank of Ladder Creek in what is today north-central Scott County, Kansas. The site was occupied intermittently until it was finally abandoned in 1727. University of Kansas archaeologists excavated the site in the 1890s, and it became known as El Cuartelejo, the northernmost pueblo ruins in the United States.[8] In 1928, the Government of Kansas acquired El Cuartelejo and the surrounding land to create a state park.[8] The following year, it dammed Ladder Creek a few miles north of the ruins to create Lake Scott, and the park became known as Lake Scott State Park.[7]

In September 1878, the U.S. Army fought the Northern Cheyenne in the Battle of Punished Woman's Fork on bluffs overlooking the creek a few miles south of El Cuartelejo.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ladder Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed March 29, 2011
  3. ^ a b "Colorado Travel Map" (PDF). Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  4. ^ a b c "2003-2004 Official Transportation Map" (PDF). Kansas Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  5. ^ The Leoti Standard, 1932-12-15
  6. ^ "Physiographic Provinces of Colorado". Colorado Geological Survey. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  7. ^ a b "Lake Scott State Park & Wildlife Area". Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  8. ^ a b c "Lake Scott State Park & Wildlife Area" (PDF). Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Retrieved 2015-12-09.