Alcove Spring got its name in 1846 when the Donner-Reed Party was forced to stop and wait for the Big Blue River to go down. One of the members of the party, Edwin Bryant, found and named the Alcove Spring site. "Alcove Spring" and "JFR 26 May 1846" were engraved in a rock at the top of the falls. They are still visible today.
While here the group was saddened by the death of Sarah H. Keyes, the mother-in-law of the party co-leader, James F. Reed. Over the years the original gravesite has been lost, but in 1950 the Arthur Barrett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a monument at Alcove Spring in her honor.
Alcove Spring was the first Marshall County property entered on the National Register of Historic Places. The Alcove Spring Preservation Association plans events at the site and is working with the Kansas State Historical Society and the National Park Service to preserve Alcove Spring and interpret the story of the site.
The area is rich in natural beauty and features native grasses, wildflowers, trees, birds and other animal wildlife. Approximately 5 miles of marked and mowed walking trails take you along streams, hilly trails with beautiful views of the Blue River Valley, highland prairie land that has never seen a plow and some of the prettiest vistas in Marshall County. Then there is the historical trail that takes you past Alcove Spring, wagon swales in the upper pastureland and the emigrant campground. Across the road from the parking lot you will find the Sarah Keyes monument, informative signs and Independence Crossing.
- Historic Trails:
- Natural History:
- Historic Features: