Watson Park - Lawrence, Kansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 38° 58.285 W 095° 14.310
15S E 306075 N 4315988
This seven acre park is located between 6th and 8th Streets and Kentucky and Tennessee Streets in Lawrence, Kansas. Sign is located at the southeast corner of the north section of the park.
Waymark Code: WM13XGD
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 03/07/2021
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
Views: 2

(picture of stylized burning building)


--------Established 1854--------

Buford M. Watson Jr. Park, formerly known as Central Park, was instrumental in providing safety to
those escaping the 1862 raiders of Quantrill's Raid through a deeply wooded ravine that ran through
the park and the center of town to the river.

The park also was home to a roller coaster for a short period in the late-1800's. From 1884 news
articles, the coaster was most likely housed where the Outdoor Aquatic Center is today. At the time, it
was touted as "the largest roller coaster track in the world," which also seemed to go unchallenged.

The park is also commonly referred to as the "train park" because of locomotive No. 1073, which is
housed on the park's northeast side. The locomotive was used in freight service in the Lawrence area
from 1902 to 1952, logging more than 870,000 miles during its run. The locomotive was donated to the
City by the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway in the early 1950's after it was decommissioned.

In March 1990 after his sudden and unexpected death in late 1989, the park's name was changed to
honor Buford M. Watson, Jr., Lawrence City Manager from 1970-1989. Watson, who served as president
of the International City/County Management Association in 1986-87, was committed to the
revitalization of downtown and a new City Hall. Watson successfully acquired federal grants to help
finance improvements, creating the predestrian-friendly downtown Lawrence enjoys today.
(Marker most likely placed by City of Lawrence)

- Marker Text

Named in honor of the late Buford M. Watson Jr., Lawrence City Manager from 1970-1989, this park was originally known as Central Park. Incidentally, Central Park was part of the original town site when Lawrence was founded.

Watson Park serves as a “gateway” for visitors to the City of Lawrence from the north, west and eastern proximity of Downtown Lawrence. The renaming of Watson Park was dedicated on March 27, 1990.

The seven-acre park, located in the Old West Lawrence neighborhood adjacent to downtown Lawrence, is one of the most popular destinations for Lawrence citizens to visit. Watson Park is home to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, along with an original train locomotive, playground equipment, and basketball court.

In addition, there is a picnic area along with a gazebo that allows visitors to relax and enjoy the scenic park. Throughout the summer months, Watson Park is a popular gathering place for families and friends to enjoy the open space in this highly visible two-block park, which is separated by 7th Street.

One of the most popular attractions of Watson Park is locomotive #1073. Built in 1902, it was used in freight service in the Lawrence area from 1908-1952. The 2-6-2 Prairie type locomotive traveled more than 870,000 miles and originally cost a little more than $20,000. The locomotive is located on the northeast section of the park; many children refer to this park as “train park” because of the locomotive.

Watson Park also is home to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, which was renovated in 1995. In October 2003, a bronze bust was unveiled in honor of the park’s namesake, Buford M. Watson Jr. The artist was Tom Wilkerson, former assistant director of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department.

The stone sculpture “Emergence,” created by Edd Ortiz was added to the park in September 2003. Emergence was a product of the Kansas Sculpture Association’s Stone Symposium, which was held in Lawrence in the 2002. The sculpture was accepted as a gift by the Lawrence City Commission in June 2002.

The amenities of the park include:
Basketball Court
Drinking Fountain
Playground Equipment
the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center

There is 1 gazebo located in Watson Park.
The amenities of the gazebo include:
Drinking Fountain
Barbecue Grill
Tables and Benches

- City of Lawrence - Buford M. Watson Park website

Marker Name: Watson Park

Marker Type: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Marker text:
see long description.

Marker Location: Douglas

Name of agency setting marker: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Year Marker Placed: Not listed

Official Marker Number: Not listed

Marker Web Address: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Must log an original UNPHOTOSHOPPED picture of you or your GPSr at the marker. Please tell some background of what you learned or how you found the marker.
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