February 7, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
You may be interested to know that the first industry in Junction City was born out of necessity. That was the building industry. Although there was a plentiful supply of building stone in the immediate area, it was by-passed as a building material in the beginning because of the speed with which logs or native lumber could be made into a dwelling or a business building.
Much of the lumber used for the first buildings in Junction City came from a saw mill erected in 1859 near the town of Batcheller, which later became Milford. The first dwellings in the immediate area were constructed of logs, cut on the site, or in a near-by creek bottom. One of Junction City’s founders, J.R. McClure, gave an excellent description of the log cabin he erected on his claim at the mouth of the Lyons Creek in 1855. He wrote: “It was built of rough logs and covered with clapboards, but had no floor or chimney. It consisted of one room, about fourteen by sixteen feet and appeared to be a very undesirable place to bring my wife and children.”
The Junction City Sawed Stone Company opened the first quarry here in 1865. This business was started by Army Major O. J. Hopkins, who recognized the potential of the abundant supply of native limestone. The material began to be used and is still used for buildings throughout the county. Here’s a bit of trivia about Geary County history: The stone used in the construction of the east wing of the Statehouse in Topeka was quarried locally by the Junction City Sawed Stone Company.