The Waconda Springs Replica at Glen Elder State Park pays tribute to a former site of Kansas geology and Native American history. A short hike takes you to the top of the scenic bluff. The park is located on the northern shore of Glen Elder Reservoir, also called Waconda Lake. As part of a flood control effort, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began building the lake’s dam across the Solomon River in 1964, and it was completed in 1968.
The resulting lake covered what once was an active mineral spring called Waconda Springs. The spring’s pool was said to be 50 feet in diameter, 15 feet deep and rich in a variety of minerals. Waconda Springs was a sacred, ceremonial gathering place for many of the Native American tribes that lived in the central plains. Kanza tribe members reportedly called the springs, “Wakonda,” meaning “Great Spirit.” It was later the site of a limestone hotel, which also used the medicinal water of the Springs. The replica is located just west of the historic Hopewell Church.