Sioux indian name meaning “people from the wind of the south“
Nickname: Sunflower State
State bird: Western Meadowlark
State flower: Sunflower
Time: Central (GMT – 6) in the greater part of the State; Mountain (GMT – 7) in four Western counties.
The geographical centre of North America, Kansas is a major agricultural area, with vast areas of farmland. As highway signs remind travellers, ‘Every Kansas farmer feeds 75 people – and you.’
It was through Kansas that families on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails drove their wagons westwards in search of new homesteads, while cowboys on the Chisholm Trail drove vast herds of longhorns north in search of the railroads. To cater for the new population, cowtowns like Abilene and Dodge City were born, and as whites forced Native Americans to move westwards, fierce battles over land erupted. Later, feuds over Kansas’s maintenance of slavery gave rise to the term ‘Bleeding Kansas’.
Today, the State boasts many monuments to its Old West past, as well as numerous recreation centres, reservoirs and rivers offering all kinds of outdoor pursuits. Attractions include the restored cattle town of Dodge City. Here, it is worth visiting the Boot Hill Museum which recreates the Boot Hill Cemetery and Front Street as they looked in the 1870s. Near Boot Hill is the Gunfighter Wax Museum, located in the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame. In Abilene, the Eisenhower Center houses the Eisenhower family home from 1898 to 1946, as well as a museum and library.
Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, famed today for aircraft manufacture, is home to the Museums on the River District, which includes an art museum and a botanical garden.
Particularly worth a visit are the Old Cowtown Museum, which introduces visitors to the cattle days of the 1870s with an open-air history exhibit, the Mid-America All-Indian Center Museum, where traditional and modern works by Native American artists are on display, and Exploration Place, with its many fascinating discovery exhibits. Wichita is also home to Sedgwick County Zoo, one of Kansas’s top tourist attractions. Kansas’s capital, Topeka, boasts the Kansas Museum of History, the Kansas State Capitol, dating back to 1866, and the Topeka Zoological Park.
For those hungry for the centre of the action, a trip to the stone monument 3km (2 miles) northwest of Lebanon on the northern border of the State is a must – it is the geographical centre point of the entire USA.