Ottawa, Kansas

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Ottawa is a city situated along the Marais des Cygnes River in the central part of Franklin County, located in east-central Kansas, 50 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo., in the central United States. The population was 11,921 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat[3] and most populous city of Franklin County. Ottawa is included in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.



The town grew up around Ottawa Indian settlements. The tribe lived in the area from 1837 to 1867 and donated land for Ottawa University. The town and university were named for the tribe.[4]

The city of Ottawa has a history of flooding due to the Marais Des Cygnes river. One of the first big floods which was noted happened in 1844, twenty years before the city's founding in 1864. No official measurements were taken, though was estimated to be at 40 feet (12 m). A flood in 1928 had a crest point of 38.65 in which 6 people died. Other flood years include 1904, with a crest of 35.8 feet (10.9 m); 1909, cresting at 36.3 feet (11.1 m); 1915, cresting at 31 feet (9.4 m), and 1944 cresting at 36.5 feet (11.1 m).

However, it is the Great Flood of 1951 which is the most famous. It was about five inches higher than the 1928 flood. The flood of 1951 affected much of Missouri and Kansas and 41 people died. 1/3 of Ottawa was covered because of this flood.

It is unlikely that Ottawa will suffer major damage due to a flood again thanks to a series of levees and pumping stations built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s. It is actually part of a larger system of flood systems to regulate the Marais Des Cygnes river all the way to the Missouri River. The levees built along the river are inspected on an annual basis to insure their quality.

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