• The setting sun over the Flint Hills casts shadows across the wide expanse of tallgrass prairie.

    Tallgrass Prairie

    National Preserve Kansas

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    Windmill Pasture is home to the bison herd. They have been quite active in recent weeks. Please stay on the trails and use caution in their vicinity. Do not come in close contact with the bison. Allow at least 100 yards between you and the herd. More »

Virtual Tour Outhouse


Little Privy on the Prairie

How fitting this little outhouse is to the entire Spring Hill Ranch complex. Stephen Jones didn't cut corners on his buildings.

The exterior walls are substantial and beautiful, built with block limestone and keystones with a hammered face and tooled stone edges. The corner stones also have tooled edges.

The interior walls are rough-cut ashlar stone, which are dressed at the windows. There is evidence that the interior was meant to be enclosed with either wood or wood, lathe, and plaster. The outhouse even has curtains in the windows for that added element of privacy.

An outhouse was necessary, as this predated indoor plumbing here on the prairie. The only thing that saved someone from a trip to the outhouse on a cold, snowy night was the chamber pot. There are many names for these little helpers, such as "Thunder Buckets", "Rumble Pots", etc.

inside the outhouse

A Three-Seater

Like all of Mr. Jones' buildings, the outhouse was no exception. Inside you will find three seats; two adults and one childs. The purpose being biodegradability. On the adult side as one area filled, lime was used to break down solids. Meanwhile, the other opening would be utilized until the waste was dissolved.

Another reason for three seats may have been to accommodate each individual member of the household; Mr. and Mrs. Jones and daughter Loutie. However, Victorian modesty and culture only allowed the outhouse to be used by one member of the household at a time.


Did You Know?

Grazing cattle at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Cattle can gain up to 2 pounds per day grazing on the prairie grasses of the Flint Hills. The calcium found in the limestone erodes into the soil, making the prairie plants more nutritious for grazing animals. Cattle grazing is still the main agricultural use of the Flint Hills today.