County approves fix to creek signs

By The Mercury

A 12-mile-long stream which runs east of St. Marys is apparently misspelled — both on U.S. Geological Survey maps and on a Kansas Department of Transportation road sign.

Bourbonais Creek should be Bourbonnais Creek, with an additional “n,” according to the USGS.

The Pottawatomie County Commission gave its approval to the spelling change Monday––a requirement of both the USGS and KDOT for making changes to topographic maps and road markers.

Officials in Jackson and Shawnee Counties will also have to give their blessing to the change, according to Gregg Webster, Pott County zoning administrator, who brought the request before the commission.

The change was requested by the legislative representative of the Citizen Potawatomie Nation, on behalf of descendants of Peter Bourbonnais, for whom the stream is named.

“(The legislative representative) reports that Peter Bourbonnais (1816-1861), originally from Illinois, was a member of the Potawatomie Tribe who operated a saw mill, trading post, and toll bridge along the stream two miles east of Saint Marys,” the USGS said in a letter to the commission. “The crossing served travelers along the Oregon Trail, the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Riley Military Trail Road, and the Smoky Hill Trail.”

The creek begins in Pott County, west of Highway 63 about 2.5 miles west of Emmett, and flows toward the southeast corner of Pottawatomie County just east of St. Marys. It also flows through Jackson and Shawnee Counties before entering the Kansas River at the boundary of Wabaunsee County.

The stream has been misspelled on USGS topographic maps since 1953. It was also apparently misspelled by KDOT on a road sign when the U.S. Highway 24 bridge over the creek was replaced recently.

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