Solomon River

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Solomon River
Kiicawiicaku,[1] Mahkineohe, Nepaholla, Rivere de Soucis, Wisgapalla[2]
Map of the Smoky Hill drainage basin including the Solomon River
CountryUnited States
Physical characteristics
Source confluenceWaconda Lake
 ⁃ locationCawker City, Kansas
 ⁃ coordinates39°28′23″N 98°26′00″W / 39.47306°N 98.43333°W / 39.47306; -98.43333
 ⁃ elevation1,453 ft (443 m)
MouthSmoky Hill River
 ⁃ location
Solomon, Kansas
 ⁃ coordinates
38°54′13″N 97°22′09″W / 38.90361°N 97.36917°W / 38.90361; -97.36917Coordinates: 38°54′13″N 97°22′09″W / 38.90361°N 97.36917°W / 38.90361; -97.36917[2]
 ⁃ elevation
1,142 ft (348 m)
Length184 mi (296 km)
Basin size6,835 sq mi (17,700 km2)
 ⁃ locationUSGS 06876900 at Niles, KS[3]
 ⁃ average555 cu ft/s (15.7 m3/s)
 ⁃ minimum1 cu ft/s (0.028 m3/s)
 ⁃ maximum157,000 cu ft/s (4,400 m3/s)
Basin features
 ⁃ leftNorth Fork Solomon River
 ⁃ rightSouth Fork Solomon River
WatershedsSolomon-Smoky Hill-Kansas-Missouri-Mississippi

The Solomon River, often referred to as the "Solomon Fork", is a 184-mile-long (296 km)[4] river in the central Great Plains of North America. The entire length of the river lies in the U.S. state of Kansas. It is a tributary of the Smoky Hill River.


The Native name for the river was Nepaholla, meaning "Water on the Hill" in reference to Waconda Spring which was located in the river valley.[5] In 1744, French explorers named the river Salmon, later corrupted into Solomon, after Edme Gatien de Salmon, a prominent colonial official of French Louisiana at the time.[5][6] Other names for the river include Mahkineohe, Riviere de Soucis, Solomons Creek, Wiskapalla River, and Solomons Fork.[2]


The Solomon River is formed by the confluence of the North Fork Solomon River and South Fork Solomon River at Waconda Lake in northwestern Mitchell County, Kansas.[2] Both forks originate in the High Plains of northwestern Kansas.[7][8] From Waconda Lake, the Solomon flows southeast for 184 miles (296 km) through the Smoky Hills region and joins the Smoky Hill River immediately south of Solomon, Kansas in western Dickinson County.[2]

The Solomon River drainage basin covers an area of 6,835 square miles (17,703 km2).[9] Via the Smoky Hill, Kansas, and Missouri Rivers, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed.

Kansas towns along the Solomon River include Cawker City, Beloit, and Minneapolis.


Before American colonization, the Solomon River valley was a popular hunting and trapping area for the Plains Indians. Tribes that camped along the river included the Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Kansa. French explorer Etienne Venyard de Bourgmont visited the area in 1712, claiming it for France. Other French explorers returned in 1744 to survey the area and gave the river its name. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the region became part of the territory of the United States. In 1806, explorer Zebulon Pike led an expedition through the area, camping on the Solomon's North Fork near the site of modern Downs, Kansas. American settlers began to arrive in the 1850s, hunters and trappers initially followed by homesteaders. In 1861, the area became part of the state of Kansas.[5]

In 1969, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation finished construction of Glen Elder Dam, a dam for flood control immediately above Glen Elder, Kansas on the Solomon River, creating Waconda Lake.[10]

In literature[edit]

  • Willa Cather mentioned the Solomon River in her 1901 short story El Dorado: A Kansas Recessional. Her description says, "it is one of the most futile little streams under the sun, and never gets anywhere. Its sluggish current splits among the sand bars and buries itself in the mud until it literally dries up from weariness and ennui, without ever reaching anything."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AISRI Dictionary Database Search--prototype version. "River", Southband Pawnee". American Indian Studies Research Institute. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  2. ^ a b c d e U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Solomon River
  3. ^ "Water-Data Report-2012 - 06876900 Solomon River at Niles, KS" (PDF). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 29, 2011
  5. ^ a b c Rothenberger, Von (2002). "About the Solomon Valley". Solomon Valley/Highway 24 Heritage Alliance. Archived from the original on 2007-05-16.
  6. ^ Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo (1995). Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Baton Rouge: LSU Press. p. 8.
  7. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: North Fork Solomon River
  8. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: South Fork Solomon River
  9. ^ "Solomon River Basin" (PDF). Kansas Water Office. January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-03.
  10. ^ "Glen Elder Unit Project". U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
  11. ^ Cather, Willa (2004) [1901]. El Dorado: A Kansas Recessional. Whitefish: Kessinger. p. 2.

External articles[edit]

  • Donald O. Whittemore, Determination of Waconda Lake Releases Needed for Diluting Saline Water in the Solomon River at Beloit for Municipal Water Supply. A Report Prepared for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources and Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Geological Survey. Open-File Report 2003-49.
  • Mandrak, Nicholas E., Changes in fish assemblages, Solomon River basin, Kansas: habitat alterations, extirpations, and introductions. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, October 1, 2002
  • Martha B. Caldwell, Exploring the Solomon River Valley in 1869.
  • Theo. H. Scheffer, Old Fort Solomon at Lindsey.