Presentation on ‘Irrigation Crusade’ is Tuesday at Tonganoxie Community Historic Site
The Tonganoxie Community Historical Society will host a Kansas Humanities program on irrigation history during drought seasons for farmers and others during a special presentation next week.
“The Irrigation Crusade,” a presentation and discussion by James Sherow, will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the TCHS campus, 201 W. Washington St. in Tonganoxie.
From the 1880s to the earliest days of the 20th century, the “Irrigation Crusade” was promoted as a way for grassland farmers and community boosters to continue thriving during droughts. The presentation will focus on colorful Kansas frontiersman Charles “Buffalo” Jones and how he led the crusade in western Kansas by organizing water diversion projects to land in and around Garden City.
James Sherow teaches Kansas and environmental history at Kansas State University. He has authored books and articles about people living in the region, including “The Grasslands of the United States: An Environmental History,” and John Charlton’s and his award winning “Railroad Empire Across the Heartland: Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s Westward Journey.”
“Waging an ‘Irrigation Crusade’ implied nothing less than a holy endeavor to transform what at the time many Americans saw as a heathen, wild landscape into cooperative, civilized, Christian communities and productive farms,” explained Sherow. “The question is: does the legacy bear out the results of the conquest?”
“The Irrigation Crusade” is part of Humanities Kansas’s Movement of Ideas Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations and workshops designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.
Members of the community are invited to attend the free program. Contact the Tonganoxie Community Historical Society 913-845-2960 for more information. The program is made possible by Humanities Kansas.
Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and democracy. Since 1972, pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. For more information, visit humanitieskansas.org.