Blue Rapids, one of the principal towns of Marshall county, is located 12 miles south of Marysville, the county seat, a short distance below the junction of the Big and Little Blue rivers. It is second in size among the towns of the county and is an important manufacturing point on account of the excellent water power obtainable. It has a glove and mitten factory, cigar factory, electric plaster mills, banks, hotels and city waterworks. The Union Pacific R. R. running north and south and the Missouri Pacific east and west form good shipping facilities. According to the census of 1910 Blue Rapids had 1,756 inhabitants.
The first attempt to establish a town on the site of Blue Rapids was in 1857, when a town was laid out by James Waller, who lived on Elm creek, Henry Poor and M. L. Duncan. Walter died, Poor shot and killed an officer of the army, then encamped at Marysville and was obliged to leave the country. The town was abandoned by Duncan and no other attempt was made to utilize the water power until 1870 when a colony from Genesee county, N. Y., came in. A location committee consisting of Rev. C. F. Mussey, H. J. Bovee and J. B. Brown came in advance and located the site for the proposed town. About fifty families followed, among them were, S. H. Parmalee, T. Holbrook, R. Robertson, M. T. Coe, D. Fairbanks, S. Smith, J. T. Smith, H. S. Hurlbert, J. B. Waynant, C. J. Brown, G. R. Brown, T. F. Hall, J. B. Brown, C. E. Olmstead, J. L. Freeland, J. V. Coon, R. S. Craft, John McPherson, J. F. Ball, Y. Douglas, H. A. Parmalee, J. Yurann, V. R. North, H. Woodward, E. L. Stone, J. S. Fisher, C. F. Roedel and C. F. Mussey.
They bought from R. S. Craft and others a town site of 287 acres, embracing the water power privileges, for $15,000, and secured 8,000 acres of farming lands. Among the improvements made the next year was a dam of stone, at the point where the rapids begins, and a wrought iron bridge. The first business enterprises were, two general stores opened by H. A. Parmalee and Yates Douglas and a drug store by A. W. Stevens. W. H. Goodwin was the first lawyer and Dr. R. A. Wells the first physician. The manufacture of brick was begun in 1872 by Mr. Seip.
Blue Rapids was incorporated as a city of the third class on March 20, 1972. The first election was held in the town house, which was called "Colonial Hall," in April. C. E. Olmstead was the first mayor.
Blue Rapids is one of the beauty spots of the state. It is laid out on a gentle slope running down to the river, which is a beautiful sheet of water. The current of the river strikes an abrupt rock about 40 feet high on the right bank and turning to the left ripples over a solid rock bottom, forming the rapids. It is in the midst of a rich farming district.Pages 197-198 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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