Can anyone tell me where to find these "geoglyphs" in Kansas?

On the Science Channel program “What On Earth?”, in Season 7 Episode 7, one of the segments discusses a grouping of black “symbols” on the ground in Kansas that can be seen by satellite. They do not mention where in Kansas they are located, or whether the site has a name. The segment diverges into a discussion on commonalities with ancient symbols found around the world, and then discusses (irrelevently, IMHO) the markings that hobos/homeward bound soldiers made to show where to find food, shelter, work, etc. Does anyone have any idea where this site is in Kansas? My Google-fu appears inadequate to the task.

I don’t have a direct answer, but since no one has jumped in on this, I’d suggest you contact the Kanas state government, most states actually have a “state archaeologist” who would be able to help. Alternatively maybe contact an archaeologist at a Kansas university.

I listen to a some archaeological podcasts by a couple Uni. professors Dr. Ken Feder and Dr. Jeb Card. They’ve told many stores about being contacted by the public and helping answer questions and also how they’ve done various projects with state archeologists.

It looks like you need a paid subscription to be able to watch that series. Do they say anything about the Kansas symbols at all, or even why they believe they are intentional symbols vs. a random geographic feature or random product of human development? There must be thousands of things that look like symbols from the sky but aren’t.

Weird. I was able to watch the episode here last night, but now I get an error message. It lets me watch other episodes, though. I guess the first taste is free?

Anyway, the conversation about the ‘symbols’ was pure blue-sky speculation, utterly without supporting evidence. It was kind of infuriating, actually. ‘Here are some crosses, crescents, and squiggles. Vamp on that for ten minutes. Go!’ There’s about a minute in total of Ken-Burns style slow pans over the satellite imagery diluted by lots of extraneous talking heads and stock footage of hobos. The show producers clearly know where these things are, and it would not take much work to actually find out what they are, but that’s not what the show is about.

The marks appear to be water-filled, man-made trenches or ponds. It’s hard to judge scale but the trenches seem to be wider than a two-lane road. They vary in their degree of ‘sharpness’; some have vary acute angles at the corners.

I’m reminded of a neighbor from forty years ago who bought a crane with a clamshell bucket to dig a squiggly pond on his property. So why all the little ponds of different shapes? Maybe a place for students to learn heavy equipment operation. Maybe somebody wanted some migratory waterfowl habitat with as large a shoreline/surface area ratio as possible. Maybe someone’s art project. I spent a few minutes looking at Google Maps of Kansas trying to find the distinctive bent road seen at the upper left of Retzbu’s screen cap before I realized just how big Kansas is if you have to zoom in to the county road level.

I was able to watch it from your link.

They dramatize this as if this area were found on another planet. It’s in freakin’ Kansas in an area with roads and farmland. Just send someone out to look at it.

The show used to be great but they have run out of interesting satellite discoveries.

The only similar thing I have come across so far in Kansas is the Cheyenne Bottoms Refuge. It is a large bird sanctuary with some C-shaped and S-shaped mounds rising out of the marsh, and I think they are modern constructions. The site shown in the “Ghost Town Terror” episode looks more like a golf course with way too many water hazards and no buildings or paths.

I wonder if the “Geolyphs” are natural formations. There are a number of strange features on earth that are visible from space, i.e. regions of colored landscape that stand out starkly when seen from miles up, but don’t necessarily look like much from the ground. This video, from the sound of it, might be trying to make something exciting and woo-woo about nothing more than concentrations of groundwater leading to certain vegetation creating colored patches on the surface of the earth…

Assuming we are seeing the map in its normal orientation, the place shown is to the east of a body of water (or a larger river, I guess). The meandering river drains west.

Also, scanning around google maps, I would say this appears to be not much further west than Wichita, as once you go west from there, so many of the fields have circular features from irrigation, which this image does not have

I live in Kansas. I’m up for a road trip. Just tell me where to go!

Virtually all rivers in Kansas drain mainly to the east. This is probably a tributary stream to a larger river, but I’ll be damned if I can find it on Google Maps. Plus, I’ve lived here all my life and have never heard of these ‘symbols.’

What are the striated patterns on the fields at the top, right of centre, and bottom, left of centre? Are these terraces on a slope, or drainage ditches, or something?

I am convinced we can find this just by matching vegetation coverage and colours. At the moment, I am seeing a lot of similarities with areas just to the west of Kansas city

I think that both of these are terraces, which are common on sloped fields in Kansas. In the top right, the terraces guide the water into two drainage ditches, generally called ‘waterways’ in this state. The waterway on the right is straight north-south, while the one on the left curves to the right to feed the water into the creek.

Free range duck farm

I posted this picture to a Kansas Facebook group to which I belong. I got a number of quick responses, and it is apparent that the above picture has been rotated 90 degrees to the right, so that ‘Up’ in the picture is actually west, and north is to the right in the picture. For whatever reason, the link to Google maps isn’t displaying properly here, but if you search for these coordinates in Google maps, you’ll get right to the site:

37°17’31.7"N 95°01’33.7"W

The general consensus is that these were test strip pits for coal mining that are being reclaimed by the land owner. There was a lot of strip mining in that area of southeast Kansas from the 1930s to the 1960s. Indeed, ‘Big Brutus’ is just a few miles from this site.

So, probably not symbols created by intelligent extra-terrestials.

Had a quick look at the Kansas historical aerial photo portal. Unfortunately no online coverage of that area, but lots of strip mining and channelling messing about the landscape, including in the suspiciously coincidentally named 'Strip Pits State Wildlife Management Area about a kilometre to the SE.

In Google Earth these look a bit more purposeful than residual earth-moving, but also look far fresher, with sharper and clearer contours. At a guess, a decade or two at most.

Once again people are so eager to see meaning in patterns that they find it where there is none.

Another comment on my Facebook post:

I have a good friend who worked for P&M the mining company and he just retired from the Kansas Surface Mining reclamation department. These are former coal mining strip pits that the land owner has gone in and pushed the mine tailing piles into the pits and contoured the pits into these shapes. They are man made.

Nice! Well done!
I reckon I probably scanned over that area while I was searching, but the 90 degree rotation makes the whole thing harder to spot when looking only at the map view (which is best for road layouts).
It looks as though the whole strip-mined area is being reclaimed for wildlife reserves - to the south of the site, you can see lots of places where it is being allowed to flood to create wetlands. ( Google Maps )

I would say that the site in question ( Google Maps ), though it definitely looks related to the mining operations, is very deliberate in its layout - someone made those trenches in those shapes for a reason.

I would speculate reason/intent such as:

  • Training exercises for the operator of the shovel digger
  • Experiments related to the reclamation (i.e. which shape of water feature is best)
  • Creation of a wildlife reserve visitor centre
    or some such