During the 1800s, worldwide economic changes were seen due to the building of canals. While many canals became famous for increasing the rate at which goods were transported, some canals became total failures. One of these failures was the Eureka Irrigation Canal, also called Soule Canal. In 1882, two brothers reached out to their childhood friend Asa T. Soule to help make southwest Kansas “bloom like a rose” with the building of a canal.
Soule was known as the “Hops Bitter King” after he patented an elixir composed of bitters, hops, and alcohol. Soule invested in the Eureka Irrigation Canal Company, which built a 96-mile canal that diverted water from the nearby Arkansas River. While investing in the area, Soule founded the city of Soule, Kansas, which would later be renamed Ingalls, established the First National Bank in Dodge City, Kansas, and donated land near Dodge City to the local Presbyterian Church for the building of Soule College.
Unfortunately for Soule and others, the canal failed. The portion of the Arkansas River that fed the canal had a very erratic water level, and the area received on average less than thirty inches of yearly rainfall, leaving much of the canal dry. By 1887, the canal had become known as Soule’s Folly. In 2014, two portions of the Soule Canal were added National Register of Historic Places.
Written by Drew Stapleton
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