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Saline River (Kansas) facts for kids

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Saline River
Saline River (Kansas).jpg
Saline River near Russell, Kansas
Map of the Smoky Hill drainage basin including the Saline River
Other name(s) Ne Miskua
Country United States
State Kansas
Physical characteristics
River mouth Smoky Hill River
New Cambria, Kansas
1,171 ft (357 m)
38°51′28″N 97°30′22″W / 38.85778°N 97.50611°W / 38.85778; -97.50611
Length 397 mi (639 km)
Basin features
Basin size 3,419 sq mi (8,860 km2)
  • Left:
    North Fork Saline River
  • Right:
    South Fork Saline River
Watersheds Saline-Smoky Hill-Kansas-Missouri-Mississippi

The Saline River is a 397-mile-long (639 km) tributary of the Smoky Hill River in the central Great Plains of North America. The entire river is in the U.S. state of Kansas in the northwest part of the state. The river got its name from the French translation of its Native name Ne Miskua. It refers to how salty the river is.


The Saline River starts in the High Plains of northwestern Kansas. The south tributary of the river rises near the Sherman County-Thomas County line. The north tributary rises in central Thomas County. The confluence of the two rivers are in Sheridan County roughly 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Grinnell, Kansas. From this confluence, the Saline River goes east for 397 miles (639 km) through the Smoky Hills region of north-central Kansas. It joins the Smoky Hill River about 1 mile south of New Cambria, Kansas in Saline County. The Saline is slow and can't be used for transportation. It has no major tributaries. It has a riverbed of sand and mud.

The Saline River goes through these counties:


The first recorded reference to the Saline River was on October 18, 1724, by French explorer Etienne Venyard de Bourgmont. He wrote that he found a "small river where the water was briny." Bourgmont was on his way to discuss a peace treaty with the Padouca. Their "Grand Village" was on the Saline River's banks. In 1806, an American journey led by Zebulon Pike crossed the river on its way to visit the Pawnee. By 1817, the river was called the "Grand Saline."

The Pawnee and the Kansa, who used the area for hunting, had land along the Saline River. This was until the 1850s when American settlers started coming. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas Territory, which included all of the Saline River. By 1873, the U.S. government had removed the Kansa to a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

In August 1867, Cheyenne warriors killed a group of railroad workers in Ellis County. This led to a battle between the Cheyenne and Buffalo Soldiers from Fort Hays. It became known as "The Battle of the Saline River."

The Saline River flooded sometimes during the late 19th century. Particularly bad floods happening in 1858, 1867, and 1903. In 1964, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the river in eastern Russell County for flood control, creating Wilson Lake.

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