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Last Chance Store State Historic Site

Last Chance Store State Historic Site in Council Grove is operated in conjunction with Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Council Grove. Tours of Last Chance Store can be scheduled at the Kaw Mission visitor center or by calling 620-307-2754.

The Last Chance Store tells the story of commerce on the Santa Fe Trail. This trading post was built by the Westport, Missouri, mercantile firm of Northrup & Chick in 1857. They hoped to take advantage of the trail traffic as traders shipped goods to New Mexico and prospectors passed through on their way to the gold mines in western Kansas Territory.

The store was built from locally sourced materials, stone and lumber. The floor joists are logs made from locally sourced walnut, cottonwood, ash, and oak. The rafters are made of native walnut. The logs still have their bark.

Charles and Jennie Harness escaped slavery in West Virginia during the Civil War and made their way to Council Grove in 1864. They sought shelter in the cellar of Last Chance Store and later on the Kaw Reservation until the war ended. They homesteaded about 90 acres of land west of the Kaw Reservation they proved in 1879.

Peter P. Houck operated a grocery store in the building in 1866. It was later a family residence. Donated by the Essington family, the Last Chance Store became a state historic site in 2015.

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