Friday: El Dorado

Summer Road Trip

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) — The KSN 2021 Road Trip stopped in El Dorado, at the East Park shelter, Friday, July 16. We appreciate everyone who took the time to stop by and say hi!

This is a big year for El Dorado. The town of almost 13,000 people is celebrating its 150th anniversary. It is the county seat of Butler County, which has a population of more than 66,000.

According to the Kansas Historical Society, the town’s name dates back to 1857. Captain J. Cracklin said, “El Dorado!” when he saw a golden sunset reflected on the surface of the Walnut River. He said that meant golden land. His men were searching for a suitable settlement site. They found a spot just two miles south of where El Dorado would be built about 10 years later.

In the late 1800s, the town’s economy relied heavily on the railroad, farming and ranching. The town managed to thrive despite drought, fires and tornadoes.

In 1915, the “golden land” discovered black gold – oil. According to the United States Geological Survey, El Dorado leaders were getting jealous of other communities drilling for and finding oil. Up until 1915, drilling in El Dorado had only turned up brine or nothing at all.

But in late 1915, the Wichita Natural Gas Company drilled to a depth of 549 feet at the Stapleton Oil Well No. 1 and got a heavy showing of oil. A much larger quantity of oil was at 2,465-feet down. By 1918, the area had six refinery projects, and El Dorado produced 29 million barrels, about 9% of the nation’s oil.

The oil industry brought people to the town. As a result, the population grew to 20,000, a 1,900% increase in just five years.

Interesting facts and people:

  • El Dorado’s Almon Strowger invented the dial telephone in 1889
  • The first-ever all-women jury to hear a case happened in district court in El Dorado in 1912
  • William Allen White spent most of his childhood in El Dorado
  • President Barack Obama’s mother was raised in El Dorado until the age of 13
  • Actor Steve Brodie was born in El Dorado as John Stevenson in 1919
  • Alex Graves, who produced the hit TV show The West Wing was born in El Dorado in 1968

Things to see around El Dorado:

Community & Government:

Sponsors: City of El Dorado/ Experience El Dorado, Butler Community College, Walter’s Pumpkin Patch

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