Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie Park
The Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie Park is a 45-acre public park in Wabaunsee County given to the people of Kansas in 1953 as a memorial to the Anti-Slavery Freestate Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony and one of its leaders, Captain William Mitchell. Ruts and swales from the territorial Topeka/Fort Riley Road used by the Underground Railroad are a major feature of the Park.
The Park is a tallgrass prairie remnant that was part of Mitchell's farm. His son, William I. Mitchell (Will), gave it to the state historical society, stipulating that it become a public park commemorating the memory and achievements of his father and the Beecher Colony.
The park is now operated by the Mount Mitchell Prairie Guards, a local non-profit grassroots group that had its origins in 2000 when it appeared that because of a lack of funding the property was going to be returned to the donor's family. Working with the Mitchell family and the Kansas Legislature, the Prairie Guards were able to get the property returned to local control. Members of the Prairie Guards participated in the formation of Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area and have been instrumental in discovering the stories of the local Underground Railroad.
Mount Mitchell and the Topeka/Fort Riley Road have Heritage Area “Star Attraction” status and have been recognized by the National Park Service as authenticated Underground Railroad sites in its Network to Freedom Program.
Management of Mount Mitchell was turned over to Audubon of Kansas and the Prairie Guards in 2006. AOK and the Prairie Guards jointly purchased an additional 15 acres in 2007. Through donations and the efforts of many hours of Prairie Guards volunteer labor improving the park's infrastructure, it has become a popular destination for residents of the local community and visitors from far and wide.
Mount Mitchell is a place to go for a quiet walk surrounded by wildflowers, the sounds of the prairie and wind in the grass. It is a place where school children and visitors can experience the prairie of territorial days and learn about the struggle to end slavery.
It is a place to learn about Native American culture, early exploration and settlement, the Underground Railroad, Exodusters, and a host of other subjects, including geology and prairie restoration.