Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie
The Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie is a 45-acre public park in Wabaunsee County given to the people of Kansas in 1953 as a memorial to the Freestate Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony and one of its leaders, Captain William Mitchell. Ruts and swales from the territorial Topeka/Fort Riley Road are also a feature of the park.
The property is a tallgrass prairie remnant that was part of Mitchell's farm. His son, William I. Mitchell, 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. 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.
Mt. 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 Mt. 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.
Mt. 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.