The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Leavenworth

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan., the county-seat of Leavenworth County and one of the most important cities in the State, 26 miles northwest of Kansas City, on the west bank of the Missouri River, here spanned by two fine iron bridges, accommodating railway and ordinary traffic. The Missouri Pacific, Union Pacific, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, and the Chicago Great Western railroads enter the city. It is the eastern terminus of the Leavenworth and Topeka Railroad and is on the line of the Kansas City Northwestern Railroad. Leavenworth was founded by the “Sons of the South” in 1854, and the following year received a city charter. It derives its name from Fort Leavenworth north of the city, the oldest and most important military post on the Missouri River, built in 1827. Prior to the Civil War it was an important trading point and it was at Leavenworth that most of the wagon trains across the prairies were outfitted. The city is the trade centre for a farming and coal-mining region, an inexhaustible coal deposit underlying the city at a depth of 700 feet, giving employment to over 1,000 miners, and yielding 60,000 bushels of coal daily. Besides its coal mines, the manufacturing industries are correspondingly extensive and include flour mills, iron foundries, refrigerating plants, manufactures of mill machinery, mine machinery, stoves, steam engines, furniture, brooms, wagons, light and heavy trailers, farming implements, road machinery, bridge and structural iron and steel, washing machines, soap and chemicals, paper bags and containers, ice, candy and cereal foods.

The city, which is protected from inundation by a limestone stratum, is well laid out, electrically lighted, has an excellent water supply, and a complete system of electric street railroads, connecting with Fort Leavenworth on the north, and the National Soldiers' Home and Lansing Prison on the south. There are 32 churches of all denominations, two hospitals, Cushing and Saint Johns, three theatres, three national banks and three savings and State banks. Mount Saint Mary's Academy for Girls is located three miles south of the city and the school system of Leavenworth is one of the best in Kansas. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and has a fine cathedral.

The western branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers is located three miles south of Leavenworth. It comprises 640 acres of beautifully kept grounds, equipped with the most modern housing, amusement and welfare conditions, for accommodation and entertainment of its 3,000 inmates. The Army Service Schools of the United States army are located at Fort Leavenworth in a magnificent building with a separate library building. The permanent capacity of Fort Leavenwoth is approximately 5,000 officers and men and temporary cantonments were erected during the Great War to accommodate approximately 3,000 more. The Disciplinary Barracks or Military Prison is located at Fort Leavenworth and in 1918 had approximately 4,000 inmates with the capacity of nearly twice that number. The Farm Colony of the Disciplinary Barracks maintains a herd of pure-bred Holstein Friesian cattle which is one of the best herds in the West. It also has a chicken ranch which in 1918 produced approximately 30,000 pure-bred chickens. A pure-bred Duroc Jersey swine herd is maintained by the Farm Colony on the large farm which is operated by them. The Colony also has several large greenhouses and the prisoners engage in both diversified and intensive farming and while learning these useful agricultural trades are earning the right to reinstatement in the army and honorable discharge therefrom. The Farm Colony established in 1918 an experimental department operated in co-operation with the Kansas State Agricultural College and the Leavenworth County Farm Bureau for the purpose of experimenting in new crops. This is probably the largest development of the Farm Colony idea for prisoners in the United States. The Federal Prison occupies a corner of the Reservation and is the largest Federal Prison maintained in the United States and in 1918 had approximately 2,500 inmates engaged in general mechanical work. This prison has the most modern equipment and has night schools with extension courses from the Kansas University and the Kansas State Agricultural College. A very large bronze statue of Gen. U. S. Grant is located just north of the city on the military reservation and is said to be one of the best statues of Grant in existence.

During the Great War a Community House for the entertainment of soldiers was opened in the city of Leavenworth and successfully maintained during the period of the war. This afforded clean and wholesome amusement for the soldiers stationed at Fort Leavenworth and gave them an opportunity to meet the better element of citizens. In November 1917 the city voted bonds for the erection of a permanent Community House to be used as a civic centre and school. The management of this building was placed under the Board of Education and the general purpose of it is to provide a place for the holding of all sorts of civic and public activities and the discussion of civic problems and the development of civic projects.

The city government of Leavenworth is administered on the commission plan since 1909, Leavenworth being one of the first cities in the State of Kansas to adopt that form of government. Pop. (1910) 19,363; (1918) est. 25,080. Consult Burke and Rock, ‘History of Leavenworth’ (Leavenworth 1880).