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Although many visitors come to Lake Scott State Park for outdoor recreation, it is also home to a notable historical site: the only known pueblo in Kansas, known as El Cuartelejo. This site is a crucial part of the history of Native Americans in Kansas and highlights the effects of Spanish colonialism.

Rocky and hilly scenery at Lake Scott State Park.

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Scenery and a road at Lake Scott State Park.

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Historical marker for El Cuartelejo.

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Reconstructed remains of a 7-room pueblo built by Taos Pueblos from New Mexico, ca. 1664.

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A group of Taos Puebloan people came to Kansas in 1664 after fleeing Spanish rule in New Mexico. Settling in what is now Lake Scott State Park, the Taos Pueblos formed an alliance with the nearby Plains Apache. They built pueblos and an irrigation system to water their crops, and this settlement was referred to as El Cuartelejo (also spelled El Quartelejo) in Spanish records. However, the Taos Pueblos were ultimately forced by a Spanish expedition to return to their former territory.

In 1696, a group of Picuris resettled El Cuartelejo after escaping from the Spanish, but like the Taos Pueblos, they were discovered in 1706 and forced back to New Mexico.

Until 1763, the area was occupied by the Plains Apache and by French traders, but it was eventually abandoned, and its structures deteriorated and were buried.

Archeologists rediscovered El Cuartelejo in 1898 and excavated the site to reveal the seven-room pueblo that visitors can see at Lake Scott State Park. In 1964, the ruins were designated a National Historic Landmark. Further information can be found at El Quartelejo Museum nearby in Scott City.

The story of El Cuartelejo is an important Kansas story, and learning the history of the Native Americans who lived here before, during, and after European colonization is crucial to the work of ensuring that democracy in the United States extends to all of its people.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Kansas Tourism

Kansas Tourism

Kansas Tourism

Kansas Tourism