July 2018

William G. Cutler in his History

of the State of Kansas

described Perry Hutchinson’s

early flour mill operation at

Marysville as follows:

The first floor (Hutchinson) occupied as

a saw-mill, and in the second story he

placed two run of burrs, with which he did

"custom work". This combination mill was

operated by him until 1867, when, on the

west bank of the river, he erected a three-

story stone structure, 40 x 80 feet. In the

construction of this building 1,100 perch

of stone were used, and when completed

employed five run of burrs, with a capacity

of one hundred barrels of flower [sic] per

day. This mill, as well as the first one, was

run by water-power furnished by the Big

Blue River. In order to furnish the new mill

with sufficient power, Mr. Hutchinson was

obliged to construct a tunnel which, at

that time was one of the greatest

undertakings in the West. This tunnel

forms a semi-circle under the bank, and

the mill stands directly over the shaft. The

reservoir, from the mouth of the shaft, is

ninety feet long, twenty-four feet wide,

and eight feet high, and is capable of

containing a body of water the weight of

which is equal to a pressure of one

hundred tons. The tunnel itself, including a

canal at its inlet and outlet, is 435 feet in

length, 185 feet of which are cut through

solid rock. In the summer of 1882, the

entire mill was remodeled and enlarged at

an expense of $40,000. Seventeen pairs of

Stevens' improved rollers, manufactured

at Buffalo, N. Y., were put in operation,

which gives the mill a capacity of 250

barrels of flour every twenty-four hours.

Marysville dam as it looked on October 3, 2014, with above-normal streamflow of

approximately 9,000 c.f.s. Streamflow over the dam on May 4, 2018, when it

ultimately failed was approximately 4,000 c.f.s.

of the power plant, additional

improvements were made to the dam

by adding a two-foot thick vertical

concrete wall on the upstream side of

the dam and placing a concrete slab

over the top of the rock-filled wooden

cribs. The powerplant operated through

the late 1960s, with the city of

Marysville taking ownership of the

dam from the power company after the

plant ceased power production. The

graffiti covered disused power plant

remains standing at the site; no

significant improvements were made to

the dam following the 1929


Impact on water supplies

In 1984, as the city of Marysville

contemplated constructing a new

surface water intake upstream of the

dam, George Austin, P.E., Dam

Engineer, and Guy Ellis, Hydrologist,

both with what was then the Kansas

State Board of Agriculture’s Division

of Water Resources conducted an

inspection of the remaining structures.

Austin concluded in his 1984 report

that the dam was deteriorating at a rate

that would result in failure within three

to five years. He further recommended

repair of the dam, should the city

decide to construct a new intake

upstream. But nothing was done to the

already failing structure after the city

instead decided to invest in a new

well-field southeast of town.

Rehabilitation of the dam was

considered again as recently as 2009.

A feasibility study was conducted by

Schwab-Eaton, P.A., Manhattan,

Kansas for Washington County RWD

No. 1, funded by the Kansas State

Conservation Commission, following a

2006 report by Ground Water

Associates, Wichita, which concluded

that failure of the dam and loss of the

mill pond could result in a lowered

The graffiti covered

disused power plant

remains standing at the

site; no significant

improvements were

made to the dam

following the 1929