Jump to Navigation

Kansas Historical Markers

Historical Markers

*Please note: A number of our markers are currently being repainted. They will be reinstalled when the refurbishing is complete.

The historical markers program was administered by the State of Kansas through the Kansas Historical Society and the Kansas Department of Transportation. The first of these historical markers was erected in 1938, more were added from the 1940s through 1960s. There is no current program to add new markers.

Most markers are located in roadside parks and rest areas so that travelers may conveniently and safely stop to read them. These markers are constructed of cast metal, and most have a distinctive sunflower design at the top.

Find a list of markers by county or number. GPS coordinates are available for many markers (Datum = WGS84). For questions about marker locations, contact the Cultural Resources Division, Kansas Historical Society, 785-272-8681, ext. 240; kshs.shpo@ks.gov.

Kansas Historical Markers

Listings By County


Listings By Sign Marker Number

1 2 3 4A 4B 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109
110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119


Allen County


Boyhood Home of General FunstonFrederick Funston, five feet four and slightly built, went from this farm to a life of amazing adventure. Youthful exploring expeditions in this country were followed by two years in the Arctic from which he returned down the Yukon river 1,500 miles by canoe. After ventures in Latin America, he served 18 months with Cuban Insurgents, fighting in 22 engagements and reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. Invalided home shortly before the Spanish-American War, Funston was made colonel of the 20th Kansas infantry. In 1901 he planned and executed the capture of Aguinaldo, commander of the Filipino army. He receivied a Congressional Medal of Honor and at 35 was made a brigadier general in the reqular army. In 1914, during intervention in Mexico, he commanded Vera Cruz as military governor and was that year made a major general. He died in 1917. This was the home of his father, Edward H. Funston, a member of Congress, 1884-1894.

Allen County
Town square, three blocks east of US-169, Iola


Anderson County

No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Atchison County


Historic Fort LeavenworthLong before white men settled Kansas, traffic over the Santa Fe trail was so heavy that troops were detailed to protect it from the Indians. Fort Leavenworth, established in 1827 by Col. Henry Leavenworth, was for thirty years the chief base of operations on the Indian frontier. In 1829, Col. S. W. Kearny march against the Cherokees with the largest U. S. mounted force yet assembled: ten companies of dragoons. In 1846, Col. A. W. Doniphan set out on his Mexican expedition; throughout the war with Mexico the Fort was the outfitting post of the Army of the West. During the 1850's, wagon teams hauled supplies over the Santa Fe, Oregon and other trails to all forts, posts and military camps of the West, some as far as the Pacific.

When Kansas territory was organized in 1854, Gov. Andrew Reeder set up executive offices at Fort Leavenworth. In 1881, Gen. William T. Sherman established the school which later became the Command and General Staff College, the highest tactical school in the Army educational system combining all arms and services. A 1926 graduate, with highest honors in his class, was Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

See also Leavenworth County marker number 4(A).

K-7/US-73, Atchison County
Turnout, 11 miles northwest of city of Leavenworth.



AtchisonOn July 4, 1804, Lewis and Clark exploring the new Louisiana Purchase, camped near this site. Fifty years later the town was founded by Proslavery men and named for Sen. D. R. Atchison. The Squatter Sovereign, Atchison's first newspaper, was an early advocate of violence against abolition. Here Pardee Butler, Free- State preacher, was set adrift on a river raft and on his return was tarred and feathered. Here Abraham Lincoln in 1859 "auditioned" his famous Cooper Union address ~ unmentioned by local newspapers.

During the heyday of river steamboating in the '50s Atchison became an outfitting depot for emigrant and freighting trains to Utah and the Pacific Coast, a supply base for the Pike's Peak gold rush, and in the early 1850's a starting point for the Pony Express and the Overland Stage lines. In this pioneer center of transportation the Santa Fe railway was organized in 1860, modestly named the Atchison & Topeka.

US-59, Atchison County
Roadside turnout, west of US-73 junction, Atchison



Mormon GroveNear here, located in a grove of young hickory trees, was an important rallying point in 1855 and 1856 for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), then emigrating to the Rocky Mountains.

The campground, really a temporary village covering about 150 acres, consisted of the grove, a large pasture fenced by native sod and a ditch, and a burial ground located on the elevated ridge between the grove and the farm.  Though one or two permanent structures were erected, most residents lived in tents, wagon boxes or make-shift dwellings.

During the peak year of emigration at Mormon Grove in 1855, nearly 2,000 Latter-Day Saints with 337 wagons left here for the Salt Lake Valley.  It was also a tragic year for the U.S., British, and European Mormons at the little way station, many dying in a cholera epidemic.

In 1856, Iowa City, Iowa, became the major jump-off point for Latter-Day Saint westward travel, and Mormon Grove became a forgotten gathering place.

US-73, Atchison County
Roadside turnout, west of Atchison


Barber County


Carry A. Nation87. CARRY NATION

Carry A. Nation, the militant crusader against illegal saloons, launched her career of saloon-smashing in Kiowa. She and her followers in Medicine Lodge, her home town, had closed the local saloons by holding prayer meetings on their premises and displays of force. However, as the Women's Christian Temperance Unions jail evangelist, she found as many drunks as ever in the county jail. These men named Kiowa as their source of supply.

A voice spoke to Carry, telling her to go to Kiowa and smash the saloons. On June 1, 1900, she attacked three "joints" in Kiowa, using stones, brickbats, full malt bottles, and one billiard ball as ammunition. Carry's attack surprised local officials, but because of the fact that the operation of such "joints" was illegal she was not jailed as she would be later in other communities. She did not adopt the use of her now famous hatchet until her visit to Wichita some six months later.

The Kiowa attack quickly received national attention and instigated great debate even among the temperance organizations. Carry Nation spent the remainder of her life in the crusade against the liquor interests and lecturing on prohibition. She died June 9, 1911.

K-8, Barber County
South edge of Kiowa



Medicine Lodge Peace TreatiesAt Medicine Lodge Creek in 1867, as many as 15,000 Apaches, Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos, and Cheyennes gathered with a seven-member peace commission escorted by U.S. soldiers to conduct one of the nation’s largest peace councils. The American Indian nations selected this traditional ceremonial site for the nearly two-week council. Chiefs Satanta, Little Raven, and Black Kettle gave speeches, held ceremonies, and entered negotiations. They produced three treaties that reduced the size of each of their lands and allowed for the construction of railroads and eventual settlement.

I come to say that the Kiowas and Comanches have made with you a peace, and they intend to keep it. If it brings prosperity to us, we of course will like it the better.—Satanta, Kiowa chief

Some chiefs signed the treaties without popular support; others misunderstood the agreements and later renounced them. When the agreements failed, the government responded with force. Thirteen months later Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle died in an attack by the Seventh Cavalry at Washita Creek, Oklahoma.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-160, Barber County
Memorial Peace Park
1 mile east of Medicine Lodge


Barton County



Fort ZarahTo protect commerce on the Santa Fe Trail, the U.S. government established a line of forts from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Dodge. Fort Zarah, built here along Walnut Creek in 1863, was initially made of dugouts and tents. The fort’s two-story octagonal blockhouse was built in 1865 with stone quarried from nearby bluffs. The fort was abandoned in April 1866 then reopened two months later.

Fort Zarah hosted a council with Plains tribes in November 1866 as the U.S. continued to secure lands from the Indians. That year had seen fewer battles, but more conflicts would occur the year after the council.

We made peace on the North Fork of the Platte. We have kept it. Every time we meet the whites in council, they have new men to talk to us. They have new roads to open. We do not like it.—Woqini, or Roman Nose, Cheyenne warrior society, 1866

With trail traffic shifting to rail traffic, the fort was no longer needed and closed in December 1869.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-56, Barton County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile east of Great Bend



Pawnee RockWe first rode nearly north about a mile to a remarkable Rocky Point . . .We rode upon the top which is probably 50 feet above the plain below, and from whence there is a charming view of the country in every direction.—George Sibley, 1825

Pawnee Rock made an impact on Santa Fe Trail travelers, who referenced the Dakota Sandstone outcropping in their journals.

Pawnee Rock was covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full that I could find no place for mine.— John Birch, 1848

Located at the halfway point on the Santa Fe Trail, many stories have been told to explain how this “prairie citadel” earned its name. Once reaching a height of perhaps 100 feet or more, a large portion of the rock was stripped away for railroad bed material.

The Woman's Kansas Day Club led a campaign to save what remained of the rock. It is now preserved as a State Historic Site.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

U.S. 56, Barton County, roadside park, west of Pawnee Rock.

See Pawnee Rock State Historic Site


Bourbon County



Fort ScottThis western outpost, named for General Winfield Scott, was established by U. S. Dragoons in 1842. The fort was located on the military road that marked the "permanent Indian frontier" stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana and stood about midway between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Gibson. By 1853 the Indian frontier had moved west and troops were withdrawn. Two years later the buildings were sold at auction, and the city of Fort Scott grew up around them.

From 1855 to 1860 this area stood at the heart of the territorial struggle over slavery, and in 1858 the town was raided by Jayhawkers attempting to free one of their members from jail. One local resident was killed. With the onset of the Civil War, Fort Scott was reactivated to serve as the Union headquarters and supply depot for southeast Kansas. The town was threatened by Confederate guerillas from Missouri until 1865. After the war ended, the post was abandoned.

In 1869 the army returned , headquartering troops in Fort Scott to protect railroad construction in southeast Kansas. In 1873 the post was abandoned. The restored fort is now a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service.

Bourbon County
National Avenue across from Fort Scott National Historic Site
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.


Brown County



First REA Project in KansasAt this site the first power pole for the Brown-Atchison Electric Cooperative was dedicated in special ceremony on November 10, 1937. Brown-Atchison was the first rural electric project to energize in Kansas financed by loans from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). On April 1, 1938, central-station electricity generated at the Horton Power Plant was sent into the first section of lines to farms in Brown and Atchison counties, signaling an end to darkness and drudgery for rural people. Thirty-eight other electric cooperatives followed in Kansas to deliver the wonders of electricity into every rural area of the state. Rural electrification became known as the best "hired hand" the farmer/rancher could have. Few other occurrences have impacted so positively on rural areas as has the rural electrification program.

This marker is dedicated to all the rural electric cooperative pioneers in Kansas who proved that working together for their own and the common good, produces a better life for themselves and their neighbors.

This marker was refurbished in January 2013.

US-73, Brown County
Roadside turnout, east of Horton


Butler County


The town and township lie tucked in the pleasant valley of the Whitewater River, and take their name from the Osage Indian term "many waters." First settler was C. L. Chandler, a returning '49er from the California gold fields who built his cabin in 1858. Towanda township was one of the first four in the makeup of Butler County--the largest in Kansas.

In 1870, Rev. Isaac Mooney, frontier preacher and community builder, platted ten acres for a townsite. The village quickly became a trade center on the Emporia-Wichita wagon road and a division point for two stage lines. Towanda gained wide fame in 1917, when giant oil gushers were drilled on rockey Shumway land at the town's eastern doorstep by Gypsy Oil Company and the Trapshooters group.

Close neighbor is El Dorado, the county seat on the east, since pioneer days a prime adjunct to the Flint Hills cattle country and for more than 50 years the focal point of vast petroleum development in south-central Kansas. Its largest industries are modern oil refineries of Skelly Oil Company and American Petrofina, while the Butler County Community Junior College tops its cultural institutions.

This is a two-sided marker with the same text on both sides.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Butler County
Milepost 76, Towanda service area


Chase County


Chase County and the Bluestem Pasture Region of KansasThe vast prairie which surrounds this site is typical of the Bluestem pasture region more commonly known as the Flint Hills. Named for its predominant grasses, the area extends from Oklahoma almost to Nebraska in a narrow oval two counties wide which covers some four and a half million acres.

These pastures comprise the last large segment of true prairie which once stretched from the forests of the East to the Great Plains. Today almost a million head of cattle are fattened each year on these nutritious grazing lands. The area normally receives more cattle annually from the Southwest than did all Kansas during an average season in the colorful era of the Texas drives, 1866-1885, when herds were driven north to Kansas railheads.

In the hills 14 miles southwest of this marker Knute Rockne, famed Notre Dame football coach, was killed in an airplane crash, March 31, 1931.

US-50, Chase County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles east of Strong City



This is one of the largest parcels of native grassland in Kansas. It is known popularly as the Flint Hills or the Bluestem prairies. For many centuries it belonged to the American Indians. Millions of buffalo, elk, antelope, coyote, eagles, and other animals roamed these prairies.

After the Civil War, settlers converted much of this area into cropland. About 4.5 million acres escaped the plow because their grasses were so valuable for grazing. Cattlemen fattened their steers on these pastures just before reaching the Kansas City stockyards. Railroads routed their tracks through here to attract cattle-shipping traffic, and by the mid-20th century more than a half million head were turned loose here each summer.

In 1996 the federal government created the 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, about 20 miles north of here.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Chase County
Milepost 96, Matfield Green service area



Cottonwood Falls has been the Chase county seat since both town and county were established in 1859. The first log cabin courthouse was replaced in 1873 by this stately building of native limestone and walnut, which today is the oldest Kansas courthouse still in use. It was designed in French Renaissance style by John G. Haskell, who was also the first architect of the statehouse in Topeka.

Prospects for Cottonwood Falls received an early setback when it was bypassed by the Santa Fe railroad in 1871. The depot, located two miles north, was first called Cottonwood but in 1881 it and the community which grew up around it were renamed Strong City.

This "twin city" situation led to one of the state's first interurban systems. Horsecar service between the two towns began in 1887 and this courthouse square was the southern terminus of the two-mile railroad. In 1918 the company converted to a gasoline-powered motor car, but the track that served well for horsecars could not handle the heavier and faster equipment. Improved technology in this instance only created difficulty, and in 1919 the interurban ceased operations.

Pearl Street, Chase County
Courthouse Square in Cottonwood Falls
This marker is located along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway.


Chautauqua County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Cherokee County



On October 6, 1863, Gen. James Blunt and about 100 men were met near Baxter's springs by William Quantrill and several hundred Confederates masquerading as Union troops. As Blunt's band was preparing a musical salute the enemy fired. This surprise attack prevented organized resistance, and though Blunt escaped nine-tenths of his men were killed. The raiders also attacked Lt. James Pond and 95 men encamped at the springs. This force was likewise caught off guard but resisted until the enemy retired. These battle sites are in present Baxter Springs. Some of the victims are buried in the national cemetery one mile west of town.

Baxter Springs was established in 1866 on the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Gibson military road. For several years it was important as a trading center for Texas cattle.

US-69 Alternate, Cherokee County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles north of Baxter Springs
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.


Cheyenne County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Clark County



This marker stands within a geologic feature known as the Big Basin, which is a sinkhole or "sink" about a mile in diameter and more than a hundred feet deep. Although it has the appearance of a valley, it is entirely surrounded by higher ground. Like several other smaller sinks in this section of Kansas, Big Basin was formed thousands of years ago by the dissolving and collapse of massive gypsum and salt formations lying several hundred feet below the surface.

Just beyond the east rim of Big Basin is a smaller sink known as Little Basin. It contains "St. Jacob's Well," a pool of water never known to have gone dry. Archeological finds indicate that St. Jacob's Well has attracted visitors for many centuries, beginning with prehistoric peoples and continuing into the early days of European settlement.

Although located on the eastern edge of the High Plains, Big Basin and Little Basin exhibit the physical characteristics of the Red Hills region located a short distance to the south and east, where rock formations of white gypsum and gray dolomite alternate with brick-red shales, siltstones, and sandstones to create a visually striking butte-and-mesa topography unlike any other in Kansas.

US-283, Clark County
15 miles south of Minneola, 3 miles south of US-160 junction


Clay County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Cloud County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Coffey County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Comanche County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Cowley County



The Gas That Wouldn't BurnNatural gas in this locality was first found in 1903 at Dexter, five miles north. The town, envisioning a prosperous future, advertised its discovery far and wide. Crowds gathered to see the well fired, then watched in dismay as the roaring gas blew out every flame brought near it. For two years it was scornfully called "wind gas". Then analysis revealed that it contained almost two per cent helium.

This primary discovery of helium in natural gas is credited to Professors H. P. Cady and D. F. McFarland of the University of Kansas. Helium was first used in balloons during World War I. For a few years, beginning in 1927, a privately owned commercial plant at Dexter supplied gas for Navy dirigibles. Later valuable uses developed in industry. In the 1950's, demand soared when helium became essential to the operation of nuclear reactors and ballistic missiles. Though Dexter's well no longer produces, the torch that wouldn't burn lighted the way to a multi-million dollar industry.

US-166, Cowley County
Roadside turnout, 12 miles west of Cedar Vale at K-15 junction



The Cherokee Outlet or Strip south of here was opened to a land rush in 1893. This tract of land was 60 miles wide and stretched along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Due to a surveying error, a two-mile strip lay north of the Kansas border. The land had been the property of the Cherokees since 1836. As a result of the Cherokee Nation’s support of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the Cherokees were persuaded by Congress to eventually cede more than 8 million acres to the U.S. government for about $1 an acre, making the Cherokee Strip available to settlers.

Every eligible settler who could stake a claim would receive a quarter section or a town lot. Finally on September 16, 1893, more than 100,000 people lined the border awaiting the pistol shots that began the nation’s last great land rush. Competitors walked, rode bicycles and horses, and drove cabs, covered wagons, and buggies. By nightfall papers had been filed on dozens of new town sites, homesteads, and ranches.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-77, Cowley County
Roadside turnout, south of Arkansas City at 312th Road
37.027112, -97.048129


Crawford County



According to legend, in 1869, Father Phillip Colleton was caught at this site by a furious hail and thunderstorm. The frightened priest took refuge under his saddle and vowed that if his life was spared, he would build a church on this spot. The fervent promise resulted in the establishment of St. Aloysius, Greenbush. The first Catholic Church erected in Crawford County was a wooden frame structure completed in 1871. Located on the Historic "Mission Road", the church was destroyed by a storm in 1877. Parishoners quarried limestone from Hickory Creek and completed the second church in 1881. The first resident pastor, Father F. M. Verdan, arrived in 1882 and served the church for fifty years. A larger church was needed and completed in 1907. The 1881 church was converted into a community building. The third church stood for 75 years as a landmark before it was struck by lightning and burned in 1982. The ruins remain. The 1881 church was renovated into a place of worship. Thus the second church became the fourth church on March 9, 1986 and served the people until it closed in 1993. Father Colleton's promise will continue.

K-57, Crawford County
6.7 miles west of Girard at the site of the church


Decatur County


Flight of the Cheyennes43. FLIGHT OF THE CHEYENNES

After the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana, tensions mounted between the U.S. government and the Plains Indians. The U.S. army intensified efforts to remove the Northern Cheyennes to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1877. There the tribe experienced a lack of medical provisions, meager food rations, and conflict with other tribes. In 1878 chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf attempted to lead about 350 Northern Cheyennes back to Montana. The army pursued and engaged the Cheyennes in a number of skirmishes. As they passed through western Kansas, some Cheyenne warriors stole cattle and horses, killing cattlemen and settlers. Dull Knife’s band was captured and escorted to Fort Robinson, Nebraska. To avoid being returned to Indian Territory, the Cheyennes unsuccessfully attempted to escape. U.S. soldiers and Cheyenne warriors, women, and children were killed in the outbreak. Survivors were relocated to Indian Territory. When a Northern Cheyenne Reservation was established in Montana in 1884, some Cheyennes were allowed to return.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-36, Decatur County
Roadside turnout, northeast of Oberlin


Dickinson County



The 34th president of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower, grew up in Dickinson County. His parents, David and Ida Eisenhower, moved to Hope, about 10 miles west of here, in 1885.  There, the Eisenhowers opened a general merchandise store and the future president’s two older brothers were born.

When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a riverbank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player . . .and he said that he'd like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.”—Dwight D. Eisenhower

After moving briefly to [Denison], Texas, where Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, the family returned to Dickinson County, this time to Abilene, about 25 miles northwest of here. Eisenhower left for West Point in 1911, served as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, and was elected president in 1952, but he always cherished his Kansas heritage—“the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”

Note: This sign replaced old historic marker 29, "Father Juan de Padilla & Quivira," 2012.

US-56, Dickinson County
One mile south of Herington on city route



Historic AbileneAt the end of the Civil War when millions of longhorns were left on the plains of Texas without a market, the Union Pacific was building west across Kansas. Joseph McCoy, an Illinois stockman, believed these cattle could be herded north for shipment by rail. He built yards at Abilene and sent agents to notify the Texas cattlemen. In 1867 the first drives were made up the Chisholm trail and during the next five years more than a million head were received. Abilene became the first of the wild cattle towns where gambling places, saloons, and dance halls competed for the cowboys wages. Gun fights were frequent and several peace officers resigned. The first to bring order was Tom Smith. More famous was "Wild Bill" Hickok who became known as the deadliest two gun marshal on the Western frontier.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower lived in Abilene from 1891 to 1911. The Eisenhower home and museum are open to the public.

Dickinson County
Turnout Old Abilene Town
South Sixth Street, Abilene


Doniphan County



Elwood, first called Roseport, was established in 1856. In its heyday scores of river steamboats unloaded passengers and freight at its wharves and every 15 minutes ferry boats crossed to its Missouri rival, St. Joseph. During the 1850s thousands of emigrants outfitted here for Oregon and California. Late in 1859, Abraham Lincoln, seeking the Republican nomination, here first set foot in Kansas, and spoke in the three-story Great Western Hotel. Elwood was the first Kansas station on the Pony Express between Missouri and California. Construction of the first railroad west of the Missouri River begn here in 1859. On April 23, 1860, the first locomotive, "The Albany," was ferried over and pulled up the bank by hand. Elwood's ambitions for greatness were thwarted, not by St. Joe, but by the river, which undermined the banks and washed much of the old town away.

Fort Luxembourg Information Center parking lot , Doniphan County
203 Roseport Road, Elwood


86. TROY

Two miles west is Troy, named for the famous city of Greek antiquity. Following the organization of Doniphan county in 1855 Troy was named the county seat and business began there in 1856. Initially it played a secondary role to such Missouri river towns as Elwood, Iowa Point and White Cloud, but the coming of the railroad in 1869 made it more important than those communities which depended on the river for their economic life.

Presidential aspirant Abraham Lincoln provided a noteworthy day for Troy early in December, 1859, when he spoke on issues of national politics and the slavery question. In 1860-1861 the city was a station on an alternate route of the Pony Express which began at St. Joseph.

In 1872 Sol Miller, one of Kansas' most outspoken newspaper editors, moved his Kansas Chief, founded at White Cloud in 1857, to Troy. Miller's writing, uninhibited even for that day, frequently left his friends chortling and his victims fuming.

Among nationally prominent persons once a part of this community were C.J."Buffalo" Jones, who in the 1880s helped save the buffalo from extinction, and Charles E. Whittaker, justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1957-1962, whose birthplace was seven miles southwest of this marker.

US-36, Doniphan County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile east of Troy
This marker is located along the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway.


Douglas County



Here, and for the next 300 miles west, Highway 56 roughly follows the old Santa Fe trail, and frequently crosses it. White settlement began in this area in 1854, the year Kansas became a territory, and in 1855 the town of Palmyra was founded. When Baker University was established on the outskirts in 1858 a new town sprang up. It was named for John Baldwin, an Ohio capitalist who in 1857 hauled a steam sawmill in over the trail. By 1863 Palmyra had merged with Baldwin.

Local settlers were "Free~State" in the fight over slavery; several were captured in a Proslavery raid of 1856. Among Free~State leaders was Dr. Andrew T. Still, founder of osteopathy, whose theory of healing was developed here.

Baker University, named for Methodist Bishop Osmon Baker, is the state's oldest four-year college. It houses the famous Bishop Quayle Bible collection and its first building, the "Old Castle", is now a museum.

US-56, Douglas County
Roadside turnout, .5 miles east of Baldwin City



The "battle" was part of the struggle to make Kansas a free state. In May, 1856, Proslavery men destroyed buildings and newspaper presses in Lawrence, Free-State headquarters. John Brown's company then killed five Proslavery men on Pottawatomie creek not far from this spot. In retaliation Henry C. Pate raided near-by Palmyra and took three prisoners. Early on the morning of June 2 Brown attacked Pate's camp in a grove of black jack oaks about 1/4 mile south of this sign. Both sides had several wounded and numerous desertions before Pate and 28 men surrendered, Brown claiming he had only 15 men left. As evidence of civil war this fight received much publicity and excited both the North and South.

US-56, Douglas County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles east of Baldwin City



Lawrence was established in 1854 by the Emigrant Aid Company, a New England organization formed to prevent the new Kansas territory from becoming a slave state. When the first legislature enacted the so-called Bogus Laws with severe penalties for opposing slavery Lawrence was the center of Free-State resistance. Free-State newspapers here further antagonized Proslavery officers.  Late in 1855 fifteen hundred  Proslavery men gathered to attack the town.  Free-State men came to its defense, among them John Brown.  Bloodshed was averted by a "Peace treaty."  The next spring, however, a "sheriff's posse" of several hundred Missourians burned houses, destroyed two newspaper presses and fired a cannon into the Eldridge Hotel on the pretext that it was an Abolition fort.

During the Civil War, Lawrence was a haven for runaway slaves and was held responsible for Union raids into Missouri.  On August 21, 1863, Quantrill and a band of guerrillas ravaged the town and killed nearly 150 men.

Monuments to these victims and other historical markers may be seen in the city.  Lawrence is the home of the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Institute.

US-40, Douglas County
Roadside turnout, Tennessee Street, Lawrence



In 1855, the new town of Lecompton was named the capital of Kansas Territory. President James Buchanan appointed a governor and officials to establish government offices in Lecompton, and construction began on an elegant capitol building. In the fall of 1857 a convention met in Constitution Hall and drafted the famous Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. The constitution was rejected after intense national debate and was one of the prime topics of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The controversy contributed to the growing dispute soon to erupt in civil war. The Lecompton Constitution failed, in part, because the antislavery party won control of the territorial legislature in the election of 1857. The new legislature met in Constitution Hall, now a National Historic Landmark, and immediately began to abolish the proslavery laws. The victorious free-state leaders chose Topeka as capital when Kansas became a state in 1861.

Current Locations:
Douglas County
1. US-40 south of Lecompton
2. Kansas Turnpike service area


Edwards County



A battle between U.S. troops and Plains Indians occurred near this area along the Santa Fe Trail in 1848 and inspired stories and legends for years to come. An army train of 60 wagons was traveling through Comanche and Apache hunting grounds on its way to Fort Mann (about 6 miles west of here, near the present site of Dodge City) when the fighting began. The small company of U.S. troops was armed with rifles and cannons against the larger group of Plains Indians, who had only bows and arrows. Eyewitnesses reported seeing an American Indian woman on horseback at the front of their line encouraging the men. Wearing a scarlet dress “decorated with silver ornaments,” she “rode about giving directions about the wounded.” The Indians sustained heavy losses during the conflict and when a courageous Apache teenager returned to recover the body of one of the fallen, U.S. soldiers held their fire. One legend said that young man was Geronimo, a future Apache leader.

Note: This sign was updated in 2014.

US-50, Edwards County
Two miles east of Kinsley at Arkansas River bridge
37.92763, -99.36753


Elk County


Prudence Crandall112. PRUDENCE CRANDALL

In 1831, Prudence Crandall, educator, emancipator, and human rights advocate, established a school which in 1833, became the first Black female academy in New England at Canterbury, Connecticut. This later action resulted in her arrest and imprisonment for violating the "Black Law."

Although she was later released on a technicality, the school was forced to close after being harassed and attacked by a mob. She moved with her husband Reverend Calvin Philleo to Illinois.

After her husband died in 1874, she and her brother moved to a farm near Elk Falls. Prudence taught throughout her long life and was an outspoken champion for equality of education and the rights of women. In 1886, supported by Mark Twain and others, an annuity was granted to her by the Connecticut Legislature. She purchased a house in Elk Falls where she died January 27, 1890.

Over a hundred years later, legal arguments used by her 1834 trial attorneys were submitted to the Supreme Court during their consideration of the historic civil rights case of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.

US-160, Elk County
Osage Street in Elk Falls


Ellis County



This noted frontier post was established in 1865 to protect military roads, guarding the mails and defending construction gangs on the Union Pacific Railway. Fort Hays also served as a major supply depot for other army posts in western Kansas.

The coming together of the fort, the railroad, and the Smoky Hill Trail resulted in the creation of nearby Hays City, where free-spending soldiers, freighters, and railroad workers frequented dance halls, saloons, and gambling houses. During its brief career as the most lawless town on the frontier, more than 50 "boot hill" burials took place. some of them were caused by James C. Hickok, better known as "Wild Bill," who served for a time as local law officer.

At various times Fort Hays served as home to the 7th Cavalry commanded by George A. Custer and the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9ths and 10th U.S Cavalry regiments. While serving as an army scout, the famous Buffalo Bill Cody also spent time at the fort. Although Fort Hays was abandoned in 1889, four original structures still stand, including the blockhouse, guardhouse, and two officers' quarters.

US-183 Bypass, Ellis County
Roadside turnout, south of Hays on old US-40

See Fort Hays State Historic Site


Victoria40. VICTORIA

Victoria was established in 1872 by George Grant, a wealthy Scotsman who chose the name for the reigning queen of England. Grant hoped to make a profit by recruiting others to raise cattle. After his death, many of the Englishmen he recruited left the area. German Russians arrived looking for good land and the freedom to follow their traditional way of life. Their descendants built St. Fidelis Church.

While passing through Victoria in 1912, presidential candidate and Nebraska congressman William Jennings Bryan was so struck by St. Fidelis Church that he bestowed a memorable title upon it: “Cathedral on the Plains.” The giant building spoke volumes about the devotion of the families in the parish. Each parishioner at least 12 years of age was obliged to contribute six wagonloads of stone, which had to be quarried and loaded by hand. With seating for 1,100, it ranked as one of the largest churches in Kansas when it opened in 1911.

St. Fidelis Church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

First Street, Ellis County
Roadside, Victoria


Ellsworth County



When the Union Pacific built through here in 1867 this was buffalo country. As the engines chugged on west, the Hays newspaper reported: "Passengers on the cars between here and Ellsworth have almost daily fine sport shooting at buffalo, immense herds of the huge beasts constantly entering for races with the locomotives." Ellsworth, founded in 1867, was a main terminus of the Texas cattle trade in Kansas, 1871-1875. As such it was one of the wildest of the cowtowns. There were shootings and even a fabled tour down Main street by one of the dancehall girls in the costume of Lady Godiva. South of Ellsworth was the Mother Bickerdyke Home for old soldiers and their families, named for Mary Bickerdyke, famed Civil War nurse and social worker.

Fort Ellsworth was established four miles southeast of this marker in 1864. Two years later it was renamed Fort Harker and in 1867 was moved northeast to present Kanopolis where four of its stone buildings may still be seen. Here General Sheridan planned the winter Indian campaign of 1868-1869. Other famous generals, including Grant, Sherman, Hancock, Miles and Custer, visited or were quartered at Harker. The post was abandoned in 1873.

K-14, Ellsworth County
Turnout, North Main Street, city of Ellsworth



The rolling land in this area was once sheep country, but now cattle roam here. These stone fence posts found are examples of the many still in use in this portion of Kansas. In an area where wood for posts was scarce, settlers used the materials at hand. The Greenhorn “post rock” was split from limestone strata, and with a little working, posts were created. 

Prior to American settlement, American Indians occupied this land for centuries. Although relations between overland travelers, settlers, and the Indians were generally peaceful, tensions developed as traffic increased and more permanent settlers arrived.  This area witnessed a number of violent clashes during the 1860s as Indians took action to defend their lands and the U.S. government responded.

Ellsworth, a former cattle town, is located approximately 7 miles south of here on K-14.  Like other “Wild West” towns, Ellsworth experienced its share of lawlessness and violence.  One incident in 1873 involved the shooting of several men, including the sheriff, and the taking over of Main Street.

Ahead are Wilson (with the Wilson reservoir 5 miles to the north); Russell, an oil town; and historic Hays and Fort Hays.

Note: This marker was updated in 2011-2012.

I-70, Ellsworth County
Milepost 224, westbound rest area, west of K-156 junction



This region of Kansas contains the Smoky Hills, an area of rolling hills, occasional mesas, and buttes, with striking outcroppings. Pawnee Rock, Coronado Heights, and Rock City are notable Dakota sandstone formations in this region.  The Smoky Hills Region features sandstone caps in the east such as the rock "toadstools" in this park. More of these unique forms, sculpted by erosion, may be seen at Mushroom Rocks State Park near Carneiro, east of Ellsworth. In the mid-section of the region, hills are capped with limestone. Because of the scarcity of wood, early settlers made stone fence posts from this limestone. This custom is still in use. Chalk outcroppings can be seen in the western part of the region. Castle Rock and Monument Rocks are large chalk formations found in Gove County. Chalk bluffs are also located in Logan and Trego counties. These chalk formations, such as Wildcat Canyon in Trego County, are excellent sources of fossils from the Cretaceous Era.

Note: This marker was updated in 2011-2012.

I-70, Ellsworth County
Milepost 224, eastbound rest area, east of K-14 junction


Finney County



In 1882 the first Jewish agricultural colony in Kansas was established when some 60 recently arrived Jewish immigrants from Russia, sponsored by the Hebrew Union Agricultural Society, settled northeast of here along Pawnee Creek. Named for the ancient city of Beersheba, the colony stretched over several sections of land, each family homesteading 150 acres. Dugouts and sod houses were constructed for homes, a synagogue, and school. Cow chips were used for fuel. Wells were dug and the native prairie was plowed and planted. Within the first few months, a wedding took place, a baby was born, and the first death occurred.

Farming proved to be unprofitable and severe winters produced hardships. To supplement their meager incomes, colonists sold their equipment and livestock, took jobs with the railroad, mortgaged their land, and established businesses in nearby Ravanna and Eminence. As the two towns died out in the 1890s after a bitter county seat battle lost by both towns, the colonists sold or abandoned their homesteads. A decade after the colony was established, none of the colonists remained and the land reverted to prairie.

K-156, Finney County
Rest area west junction of K-23 and K-156



For thousands of years American Indians depended upon the buffalo for food, materials for shelter, and numerous other necessities.This relationship ended toward the end of the 19th century when commercial hide hunters nearly drove the buffalo to extinction. Demand for buffalo hides grew in the East, and the railroad arrived in western Kansas, providing the means for transporting products. Because the buffalo was such an integral part of Indian survival, its near extinction had a profound effect upon Plains tribes.

A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting.—Satanta, Kiowa chief

C. J. “Buffalo” Jones of Garden City had been a buffalo hunter before capturing and raising 10 buffalo calves at the local private zoo. He and others helped save the buffalo from extinction. Today many bison herds can be seen across Kansas.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-50, Finney County
Roadside turnout
East city limits of Garden City


Ford County


Dodge City: Cowboy Capital76. DODGE CITY: COWBOY CAPITAL

If you stood on the hill above Dodge City, there was traffic as far as you could see, 24-hours a day, seven days a week on the Santa Fe Trail.—Henry L. Sitler, early settler

Fort Dodge was established on the Santa Fe Trail in 1859 to protect wagon trains and as a supply base for U.S. troops. Six years later Sitler built a sod house near here, and Dodge City was born.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1872, the steady stream of hunters and cowboys increased. They found stores, a blacksmith, a dance hall, and a saloon. The railroads shipped 1.5 million buffalo hides to buyers in the east over the next six years. When the buffalo were gone—due to the over hunting of herds for hides—Texas longhorns driven to Dodge supplied the demand for meat in the eastern U.S.

Dodge City had little law enforcement until 1876 when W. B. “Bat” Masterson and Wyatt Earp became lawmen.  These famous personalities led to the legendary appeal of this “Wild West” town, which continues today.

The Dodge City Downtown Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

Wyatt Earp Boulevard, Ford County
Roadside turnout, on the west side of Dodge City



Fort Dodge, named for Maj. Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, was established here in 1865. It was a supply depot and base of operations against warring Plains Tribes. Custer, Sheridan, Miles, Hancock, "Wild Bill" Hickok and "Buffalo Bill" Cody are figures in its history. The site was an old camping ground for wagon trains near the western junction of the "Dry" and "Wet" routes of the Santa Fe trail. The first buildings were of sod and adobe although some of the troops lived in dugouts. Several of the stone buildings erected later are in use today. The fort was abandoned in 1882 and is now a state soldier's home.

The Spanish explorer, Coronado, is believed to have crossed the Arkansas river a few miles east of here in 1541.

US-400, Ford County
At site of fort, southeast of Dodge City



The Fort Dodge Camp Supply Military Road passed several hundred feet west of this marker. The route was established in 1868 during General Phillip H. Sheridan's winter campaign against Indians in Texas and the Indian Territory. The ungraded prairie trail, approximately 90 miles long, was important for transporting supplies from Fort Dodge and Dodge City to Camp (later Fort) Supply in present Oklahoma, and was an important link in the communications system of western outposts. In the 1880s, a government telegraph was erected along the route of the trail. In Clark County two 50-foot square fortifications (redoubts) were built to house cavalry patrols assigned to keep the mail and supply route open. In the 1870s and 1880s, the military road served as a branch of the Western Trail over which cattle were driven to Dodge City and beyond. The present road between Bloom and Ashland follows the Fort Dodge-Camp Supply Military Road.

US-54, Ford County
Rest area northeast of Bloom



The Santa Fe trail, extending 750 miles from the Kansas City area to the old Spanish settlement of Santa Fe, was the great overland trade route of the 1820's to 1870s. Its commercial use began in 1821, when William Becknell headed west with a pack train from Franklin, Mo. For more than 500 miles the road lay in Kansas, angling southwest past such historic landmarks as Council Grove and Pawnee Rock.

Between present Larned and Fort Dodge, there were two routes. One, keeping to the ridges and higher ground, was used in wet weather. The other, favored during dry spells, lay along the bottom lands near the Arkansas river.

West of this marker the trail divided again. One road, following the north bank of the Arkansas, led to Bent's Fort in Colorado and then dropped south to Santa Fe. A second route crossed the river at several palaces between here and the Lakin vicinity. This was the famed cut-off to the Cimarron river which continued through southwest Kansas past Wagon Bed Springs and Point of Rocks. Although it was shorter, lack of water and the constant threat of Indian attack made it extremely dangerous.

US-56, Ford County
Roadside turnout, 8 miles east of Dodge City
US-50 and US-283 junction


Franklin County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Geary County


First Capital of Kansas24. FIRST CAPITOL OF KANSAS

This building was erected in 1855 in the now extinct town of Pawnee for the first legislature of the territory of Kansas. The members were mostly Missourians fraudulently elected in an effort to make Kansas a slave state. They came in wagons and on horseback, well armed, and camped out on the prairie. The session lasted from July 2 to 6. The Missourians were determined to legislate nearer home and passed a bill to move to Shawnee Methodist Mission near Kansas City. Governor Reeder vetoed the bill, it was passed over his veto, and this ended the session here. All other acts, including the so-called Bogus Laws, were passed at Shawnee Mission. This building stood in partial ruin until its restoration in 1928 by the Union Pacific railroad.

Huebner Road, Geary County
South of Huebner Road at old Capitol Building, Fort Riley Reservation

See First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site


Fort Riley27. FORT RILEY

Fort Riley opened as a military post in 1853, one year before the creation of the Kansas Territory. The army’s mission was to guard travelers who were passing through American Indian lands and to protect Indians from trespassers. Fort Riley quelled tensions between pro- and antislavery settlers, sent troops to the Civil War, and briefly served as a Confederate prison camp. In 1866 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry was organized here before heading west for campaigns against Plains Indians. The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry or “Buffalo Soldiers” were at times stationed here. Fort Riley became a permanent post since it was at the center of the nation’s railroad network. Graduates of the U.S. Cavalry School, opened in 1892, fought in every conflict from the Spanish American War through World War II. In the years following World War II, the post became one of the largest training facilities for infantry and, in 1955, the base of operations for the First Infantry, the “Big Red One.”

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

Huebner Road, Geary County
Fort Riley Reservation



Approximately 7 miles ahead is the southern edge of Fort Riley, established as a military post in 1853. Horace Greeley, noted editor of the New York Tribune, visited the fort in 1859. Of Fort Riley he said, “I hear that two millions of Uncle Sam’s money have been expended in making these snug arrangements, and that the oats largely consumed here have often cost three dollars per bushel!”

The Seventh U.S. Cavalry, which played a significant role in the campaigns against Plains Indians, organized at Fort Riley in 1866 with George A. Custer second in command. Fort Riley remained a cavalry post through World War II, after which it became an infantry training facility.

At the southeast corner of the fort just north of I-70 is Marshall Army Airfield.  Dating to as early as 1912, it is one of the army’s oldest airports. 

Junction City, approximately four miles beyond, was incorporated in 1859 and is named for its location at the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican Rivers.  The Junction City Downtown Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Note: This sign replaced old historical marker 98 "Historical Kansas" in 2012.

I-70, Geary County
Milepost 310, westbound rest area 12 miles
East of Junction City



Abilene, 20 miles ahead, was a cowtown of major importance in the history of the American West. During 1867-1871 much of the town was a mixture of bawling Longhorn cattle and cowhands up from Texas - with numerous, more worldly two-legged critters in supporting occupations. Abilene's most respected early lawman was Thomas J. Smith, killed by a half-crazed settler in 1871, contributed to the town's bloody history by engaging rowdy Phil Coe in a blazing gun battle at eight feet.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower lived in Abilene from 1891 to 1911.  The Eisenhower Home and Museum, the Presidential Library and Chapel, help to make Abilene a major attraction for visitors from all over the world.

Thirteen miles west of this marker is an exit for Detroit.  This little town was an 1870 county-seat rival of Abilene.  The Western News, Detroit's newspaper, bitterly charged that Abilene was run "by Vagabond, Ruffians, Fancy Women, Rot Gut Whiskey and Gamblers."  Apparently the voters liked what was there, for Abilene triumphed!

Milford reservoir is five miles north of this marker.

I-70, Geary County
Milepost 294, westbound rest area west of Junction City



Five miles to the northeast the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers unite to form the Kansas or Kaw. At the junction, the city which bears the name, was founded in 1857. Before the arrival of the westward-building Union Pacific railroad in 1866, steamboats occasionally navigated the Kaw river from Kansas City to Junction City, when they could elude the shifting sandbars.

Fort Riley, one of the nation's major military establishments, adjoins Junction City on the east. Established as Camp Center in 1852, the fort has quartered some of the most famous U. S. army units in history, including Custer's Seventh (Indian-fighting) cavalry, organized there in 1866. The army's cavalry school, established at the post in 1892, was said to be the finest in the world until mechanization displaced the horse in the 1940s.

This highway takes you through the southern edge of Fort Riley. To your left will be Marshall Field, an early army airport commanded in 1926 - 1928 by Maj. H. H. (Hap) Arnold, later commanding general of the USAAF in World War II. Farther north on the military reservation are the Camp Funston area, training center for both World Wars; the Fort Riley museum; and the First Capitol of Kansas, 1855.

I-70, Geary County
Milepost 294, eastbound rest area, 2 miles west of Junction City



Historical KansasNorth on scenic K-177 is Manhattan, home of Kansas State University, established as Bluemont College in 1858. Above Manhattan is the huge Tuttle Creek dam and reservoir, described in the 1950s by embattled valley residents as "Big Dam Foolishness."

South on K-177 is Council Grove reservoir, and the historic city astride the old Santa Fe trail.  This was the nation's first major highway linking the East and the West.  The Kaw Indian mission and other buildings, dating from the trail's heyday, 1821-1870, are still to be seen in Council Grove.

Bluestem pastures--known locally as the Flint Hills--abound here.  They extend in a 60-mile-wide strip south into Oklahoma.  These succulent pastures are dominated by Big and Little Bluestem, with assorted other grasses, nurtured over a limestone base.  Upon them a million cattle are grazed annually.

Kansas is on the central bird flyway, and 400 species have been seen in the state.  Of these, about 200 nest here.  Many are beautiful, scores are songsters, and nearly all are beneficial.  The state bird of Kanas is the Western Meadowlark.  Both the Eastern and Western Meadowlark frequent this area.  Although the two look alike they can be identified by their calls - that of the Western is more melodious.

I-70, Geary County
Milepost 310, eastbound rest area 12 miles east of Junction City
39.064664, -96.614644


Gove County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Graham County



Nicodemus, established in 1877, was one of several African American settlements in Kansas. The 350 settlers came from Kentucky to escape the problems of the oppression of the “Jim Crow” South. Residents established a newspaper, a bank, hotels, schools, churches, and other businesses. They enjoyed much success despite the hardships and challenges of late 19th century High Plains settlement— wind, drought,swarming insects, and more.

The town grew rapidly through the 1880s and many prospered.  But when Nicodemus failed to secure the railroad, growth slowed and the population began to dwindle after World War I.

Edward P. McCabe, who joined the colony in 1878, served two terms as state auditor, 1883-1887, the first African American elected to a statewide office in Kansas.

A symbol of the African American experience in the West, Nicodemus operates today as a unit of the National Park Service.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-24, Graham County
Roadside turnout, Nicodemus


Grant County



About two miles west were the Lower Springs of the Cimarron, an oasis in dry weather, where shortcuts of the Santa Fe trail converged to continue up the river. The most popular cut-off turned southwest from the Arkansas river in present Gray county. The 60-mile stretch between the two river, known as the "Jornada," was a perilous route for men and animals in dry seasons when wagon trains often ran out of water. Here also fierce Plains Indians frequently attacked and plundered the caravans. Near here in 1831 the noted Western explorer and fur trader Jedediah Smith, lost four days without water, was killed by Comanches just as he reached the river.

Late in the history of the trail a wagon box set in the water gave the springs their name. Little remains of this famous camping place, but wheel ruts of the old trail may still be seen in near-by areas.

K-25, Grant County
Roadside turnout, 12 miles south of Ulysses


Gray County



The Santa Fe TrailCimarron, settled in 1878, got its name as the starting point at one time of the shorter Cimarron or dry route to Santa Fe. Here the Santa Fe divided, one branch heading directly southwest, the other (present US-50) following the Arkansas river to Bent's Fort (near La Junta Colo.) then south over Raton Pass.

William Becknell first traveled the dry route with a pack train via the Cimarron River in 1822, carrying trade goods to Mexico, newly freed from Spain. By 1824, wagons creaked along with loads of calico, guns, tools and shoes to exchange for silver, furs, wool, and mules. Trade became of such importance the in 1825 the government surveyed the route in U. S. territory north of the river, and the Upper Crossing, near Chouteau's Island in Kearny County, was recommended because of the shorter distance between the rivers. But despite the danger, the Middle Crossing -- various points in the Cimarron-Ingalls area -- was used the most.

Usually waterless and subject to Indian attacks, the 60 miles of trackless prairie between the Arkansas and the Cimarron was called by the Mexicans, Jornada del Muerte, or Journey of Death.

Gray County
City Park in Cimarron


Greeley County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Greenwood County



This county lies almost wholly within one of the world's great beef cattle feeding grounds, the Bluestem pasture region of Kansas. The area, more popularly known as the Flint Hills, extends across the state from north to south in a narrow oval two counties wide, and covers four and a half million acres. Each summer a million head of cattle are fattened on its nutritious grasses.

The Bluestem region comprises the last large segment of true prairie which once stretched from the forests of the East to the Great Plains. Every spring Southwestern cattle are shipped here for fattening, often a larger number in one year than were driven to all Kansas railheads in an average season during the wild days of the Texas cattle drives, 1866-1885.

Greenwood county had a full share of this industry, ranking among the top five Kansas counties in number of cattle grazed. At times as many as 75,000 head are fed on the county's 739,000 acres.

US-54, Greenwood County
Rest area west of Verdigris River bridge,
5 miles east of Neal


Hamilton County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Harper County



Two miles northeast of here , in 1890, stood a typical English village. Curving driveways led to English-style houses set among rows of clipped hedges. Nearby were polo grounds, a steeplechase course, a race track, tennis courts, and a football field. Red-coated hunters rode to hounds across the buffalo grass prairie. Farms and orchards were modeled after English estates and on the townsite a three story hotel and other businesses were established. The promoter of all this British activity was an Irishman who persuaded wealthy families to send sons to the colony to learn American farming methods. In practice, Runnymede strongly resembled a modern dude ranch. Although at one time, a hundred young Englishmen lived in the settlement, a number of whom owned estates, it was a failure as a colony. When hard times came old Runnymede collapsed and most of its remittance men returned to England. Today wheat fields cover the townsite.

K-2, Harper County
Roadside turnout, 6 miles northeast of Harper


Harvey County



Children in Russia hand-picked the first seeds of this famous winter wheat for Kansas. They belonged to Mennonite Colonies preparing to emigrate from the steppes to the America prairies. A peace-loving sect, originally from Holland, the Mennonites had gone to the Crimea from Prussia in 1790 when Catherine the Great offered free lands, military exemption and religious freedom. They prospered until these privileges were threatened in 1871. Three years later they emigrated to Kansas, where the Santa Fe R.R. offered thousands of acres on good terms in McPherson, Harvey, Marion & Reno counties, and where the legislature passed a bill which exempted religious objectors from military service. Within a month after landing in New York the Mennonites planted the red~gold grains their children had selected. The harvest was the first of the great crops of hard Turkey Red and its derivatives that have made Kansas the Granary of the Nation.

US-50, Harvey County
Roadside turnout, .5 miles east of Walton


Haskell County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Hodgeman County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Jackson County



One witness to this event later wrote that it was “no joke” to attack old John Brown. The abolitionist inspired such terror that in January 1859, about 1.5 miles north of here, a U.S. marshal fled at the mere sight of him. Brown, escorting 11 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, was discovered in a cabin on Straight Creek. Marshal John Wood hid in a nearby stream crossing with about 35 deputies, while Freestaters marched overnight from Topeka to support Brown. Even with reinforcements Brown’s party was outnumbered two to one, but he defiantly ordered his men to ford the creek. “Scarcely had the foremost entered the water,” one man recalled, “when the valiant marshal mounted his horse and rode off in haste.” Another remembered: “The closer we got to the ford, the farther they got from it.” Mocking the posse’s retreat, a newspaperman dubbed this the “Battle of the Spurs.” Brown and his party reached Iowa unharmed.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-75, Jackson County
Roadside, 7 miles north of Holton, at NE corner of HWY-75 & 286th Rd.


Jefferson County



In September, 1856, a band of Proslavery men sacked Grasshopper Falls (Valley Falls) and terrorized the vicinity. On the 13th, the Free-State leader James H. Lane with a small company besieged a party of raiders in log buildings at Hickory Point, about one-half mile west of this marker. Unable to dislodge them, Lane sent to Lawrence for artillery and reinforcements. Col. James A. Harvey responded next day only to find that Lane had raised the siege and departed. "Sacramento," historic Mexican War cannon, was fired into the buildings with little effect, and men pushing up a burning hayrack were shot in the legs. The skirmish ended in an armistice, celebrated, it is said, over a considerable quantity of whisky. Casualties were one Proslavery man killed and four wounded, and five Free-State men injured.

At his family's farm home one-fourth mile west of this marker artist John Steuart Curry (1897-1946) was born and spent his boyhood years. In 1940 he painted his famed murals in the Kansas statehouse at Topeka.

US-59, Jefferson County
Roadside turnout, 5 miles north of Oskaloosa
Note: An additional marker was located along Osage Road north of Dunavant when this was part of US-59.  This marker was removed in 2012.


Kansa Indians95. KANSA INDIANS

The Kansa Indians (Kaw) came to this region from the forested southeast. They lived in permanent longhouses covered with bark and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. In their western hunting grounds they captured buffalo and other large animals. By the mid 18th century the Kansa considered most of northern and eastern Kansas their home. Through contact with Europeans and Americans, the Kansa contracted foreign diseases that had a devastating effect on their population. In 1825 the Kansa were forced to agree to a treaty that reduced their land to 10 percent of its original size. Two years later the government established an agency to protect the interests of the United States 2.5 miles southeast of here. It was the goal of the government to change the Kansa into American farmers, stripping them of their traditional way of life. In 1846 the Kansa were again forced to move, this time to an even smaller reservation near Council Grove.

After the death of his mother U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis lived on the Kansa reservation with his mother’s family. Today the Kaw Nation is headquartered in Oklahoma. The state of Kansas is named for the Kansa Indians.

Note: This marker replaced old historical marker 95 "Kansa Indian Agency" in 2012.

US-24, Jefferson County
Roadside turnout, east of Perry


Jewell County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Johnson County



Here US-56 lies directly on the route of the Oregon-California and Santa Fe trails. Nearby, the trails branched. On a rough sign pointing northwest were the words, "Road to Oregon." Another marker directed travelers southwest along the road to Santa Fe.

Between 1840 and 1870 thousands of settlers, miners, and soldiers plodded the 2,000 miles of the Oregon-California Trail from the "jumping off" towns on the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. Diseases such as cholera and smallpox were the travelers' greatest enemies. Unknown thousands of emigrants died from disease, as did many of the Indians through whose lands they traveled.

The Santa Fe Trail was famous as a freight route between Missouri and New Mexico. Pack trains undertook the difficult journey as early as 1821, following rivers and earlier Indian trails. By 1825 large wagon trains were carrying tons of goods both east and west. US-56 generally follows the old trail route southwestward across Kansas some 500 miles, nearly two-thirds of the trail's length.

US-56, Gardner, Johnson County
204 W. Main (US-56) in the parking lot of the Gardner Historical Museum.


Shawnee Friends Mission1. SHAWNEE FRIENDS MISSION

In 1825 the Federal government began moving Eastern Indians to new lands west of the Mississippi. This sign is on a 2,500 acre tract assigned to the Shawnees.

With this tribe came Methodist, Baptist and Quaker missionaries. One mile east and a little north the Quakers erected buildings in 1836 and opened a school the following year. Indian students, who lived at the mission, received elementary schooling, religious instruction and training in agriculture and domestic arts. Highest recorded enrollment was 76. In later years the school was attended mainly by Indian orphans.

The mission operated almost continuously until 1869. A marker designates the site of the main building which was torn down in 1917.

Merriam Drive, Johnson County
Southwest of I-35 and Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam

See Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site


Kearny County



In the spring of 1816 Auguste P. Chouteau's hunting party traveling east with a winter's catch of furs was attacked near the Arkansas river by 200 Pawnees. Retreating to what was once an island five miles southwest of this marker the hunters beat them off with the loss of only one man. In 1825 increased travel on the Santa Fe trail brought a government survey and Chouteau's island was listed as a turning off place for the dangerous "Jornada" to the Cimarron. For a time the river here was the Mexican boundary. When Maj. Bennett Riley and four companies of infantry, serving as the first military escort on the trail, arrived in 1829 with a west-bound wagon train the troops went into camp near the island. They spent the summer fighting off Indians, losing several men and part of their oxen. The return from Santa Fe of the caravan with a Mexican escort was celebrated in a colorful exchange of military inspections.

US-50, Kearny County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile west of Lakin


72. SANTA FE TRAIL RUTS, 1821-1872

Looking east, up and over the bank of the ditch, one can see the wagon ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. You will notice a difference in the color and texture of the grass in the ruts. This is characteristic of the ruts along the trail. Between Pawnee Rock and Santa Fe, New Mexico, it was customary for the wagons to travel four abreast. This allowed for quicker circling in case of attack. In the distance to the south can be seen trees lining the banks of the Arkansas River. During the early years of the trail, this was the boundary between Mexico and the United States.

US-50, Kearny County
Roadside turnout, 4 miles east of Lakin


Kingman County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Kiowa County



Flamboyant and colorful, Donald R. "Cannonball" Green (1839-1922) ran a stage line connecting the railroad to towns across southwestern Kansas. Green started his first stage service in Kingman in 1876. It ran through Pratt to Coldwater and later to Greensburg, a town he helped found in 1886.

Green's stage line served areas not reached by the railroad, and for a few years he also carried the mail from Wichita to Kingman. Known for their speed, Green's coaches were pulled by teams of six or eight horses which were changed every eight to ten miles. More than just a driver, Green was an advisor and teacher, sharing with passengers his knowledge of southwestern Kansas and the prairie landscape.

As the railroads advanced, Green moved his stage service west but stage demand soon dwindled. In 1898 he took a claim in Oklahoma Territory when the Cherokee Strip opened. Although Green also served in the Kansas legislature, he was best known for his stage route between Kingman and Greensburg, the Cannonball Highway, which became U.S. Highway 54.

Green died in Long Beach, California and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Wichita.

US-54, Kiowa County
Turnout east city limits of Greensburg


Labette County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Lane County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Leavenworth County


City of Leavenworth90. THE CITY OF LEAVENWORTH

Two weeks after Kansas was officially opened for settlement the state's oldest city was born. The date was June 12, 1854, and the town was named for nearby Fort Leavenworth.

In September, type for the first regularly weekly newspaper in Kansas was set under an elm tree on the levee. The newspaper came in "even before our sins," a journalist wrote later. Within four years Leavenworth's population had soared beyond 10,000 as steamboats and freighting wagons, supplying Western forts and the ever-advancing frontier, made business boom.

"Buffalo Bill" Cody, William T. Sherman and Fred Harvey were early residents before they won fame respectively as army scout and showman, Civil War general, and restaurateur. Abraham Lincoln, on a speaking tour, spent four days here in December, 1859. The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, established in 1858, operates nearly 100 schools and colleges, including nearby St. Mary.

Prisons abound near Leavenworth. South, at Lansing, are the state penitentiary and women's industrial farm, while north of the city are the U.S. disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth and the federal penitentiary. The historic Fort Leavenworth - Fort Gibson military road, laid out in 1837, passed near this marker.

Previous location of current sign:
US-73, Leavenworth County
Roadside turnout, K-7 and K-92 junction

Current location of sign:
Riverfront Park, City of Leavenworth



Established in 1827, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest army post in continuous operation west of the Missouri River. Serving as the army's chief base of operations on the Central Plains, the fort furnished troops and supplies for military operations as far away as the Pacific Coast. Troops stationed at the fort were given the task of maintaining peace on the frontier and protecting trade on the newly established Santa Fe Trail. With the establishment of the Oregon-California Trail in the 1840s, travelers on that trail also received protection.

In 1834 the fort became headquarters for the U. S. Dragoons, the army's first permanent mounted regiment. With the onset of the war with Mexico in 1846, the Army of the West organized at the fort for its epic journey to California and northern Mexico. When Kansas achieved territorial status in 1854, the first office of the territorial governor was at the fort. In 1881 General William T. Sherman established a school that evolved into the Command and General Staff College, the highest ranked school in the army educational system. One notable student, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, graduated in 1926 with highest honors in his class.

Previous locations of two signs (no longer extant):
Turnout on US-24, 0.3 miles west of US-24/US-73/K-7 interchange
Turnout on US-24, 0.5 miles east of US-24/US-73/K-7 interchange

Previous location of current sign:
7th Street entrance to Fort Leavenworth

Current location of sign:
Frontier Army Museum, 100 Reynolds Ave, Leavenworth

See also Atchison County marker number 4(B).

This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.



Between Lawrence and Topeka, the Kansas turnpike passes near the route of the old Oregon-California Trail, traveled in the 1800s by explorers, missionaries, soldiers, emigrants in search of land and forty-niners in search of gold. Fifteen miles south of here was the Santa Fe Trail, which for more than 50 years served mainly as a trail of trade and commerce. From the Missouri River it was some 2,000 miles to Oregon and California and around 800 to Santa Fe, following trails established centuries earlier by Native Americans. Tribes living in that area during the 1800s included the Delaware, Kaw, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Wyandot.

Traders often stopped in Lawrence after its establishment in 1854. The town became famous as a free-state headquarters in the territorial fight over slavery, with some of its most prominent citizens helping to transport slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Proslavery men responded in 1856 by sacking the town and destroying the newspaper office. Lawrence underwent its greatest trial in 1863 when Confederate guerillas led by Willian C. Quantrill burned the town and killed more than 150 men and boys. Lawrence soon rebuilt, and today is home to the University of Kansas and the Haskell Indian Nations University.

I-70 (Kansas Turnpike), Leavenworth County
Milepost 209, service area 6 miles east of Lawrence


Lincoln County



The 1860s brought ever-growing numbers of travelers and settlers into Indian lands in Kansas. Taking advantage of tribal divisions, the U.S. government negotiated treaties that forced Plains Indians onto reservations and limited their hunting areas. Though relations between travelers and settlers and the Indians were generally peaceful, tensions developed and periodic violence occurred. A fragile peace was shattered in the 1860s when Indians took action to defend their lands and the U.S. military responded. Treaties in 1865 and 1867 temporarily eased concerns. Pressures mounted again as railroad construction moved further onto the plains. In 1868 Northern Cheyenne leader Roman Nose led a retaliatory strike against settlers along the Solomon River, about 20 miles northeast of here. Other strikes, led by the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, occurred along the Saline River and tributaries in Lincoln County and nearby counties. The U.S. government responded in 1869 by dispatching the 7th Cavalry, which inflicted heavy casualties as it forced the Cheyennes out of Kansas.

Note: This sign replaced old historical marker 35 "Lincoln County & The Indian Wars," 2011-2012.

K-18, Lincoln County
Roadside turnout, 3 miles east of Lincoln


Linn County


In October, 1864, a Confederate Army under Gen. Sterling Price was defeated near Kansas City. He retreated south, crossed into Kansas, and camped at Trading Post. Early on the morning of October 25, Union troops under Generals Pleasonton, Blunt, and Curtis forced him from this position, and a few hours later the Battle of Mine Creek was fought over these fields. Confederate forces were thrown into confusion as they tried to cross the steep, slippery banks of the stream. In the close fighting on the bottoms, hundreds of Rebel soldiers were captured, including General Marmaduke, who was taken by a 20-year-old private. Although Union forces missed a chance to destroy Price's army the defeat was decisive enough to end the threat of a Rebel invasion of Kansas. About 25,000 men were engaged, more than in any other Kansas battle.

K-52, Linn County
Mine Creek Battlefield Museum, south of Pleasanton
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.

See Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site



Nothing in the struggle over slavery in Kansas did more to inflame the nation than the mass killing which took place May 19, 1858, about four miles northeast of this marker. Charles Hamelton who had been driven from the territory by Free-State men, retaliated by invading the county with about 30 Missourians.  Capturing 11 Free-State men, he marched them to a ravine and lined them up before a firing squad.  Five were killed, five were wounded and one escaped by feigning death.  The site and adjoining land, occupied for a time by John Brown, are preserved in a state memorial park.  A monument bearing lines from Whittier's tribute to the victims stands in Trading Post cemetery south of here.

The town received its name from an Indian trading post established about 1834.  A monument just east of the river marks the site.  Here, also, in January 1859, John Brown dated his famous "Parallels."

US-69, Linn County
Roadside turnout, .5 miles north of Trading Post
This marker is located along the Frontier Military Byway.

See Marais des Cygnes Massacre State Historic Site


Logan County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Lyon County



When native-born William Allen White entered college at Emporia in 1884, the city, incorporated in 1857, already was called the Athens of Kansas because of its two higher schools. The State Normal, now Kansas State Teachers College, was established in 1863, and the College of Emporia where White enrolled, was founded in 1882.

In 1895, Bill White, now a journalist, became owner of the Emporia Gazette. As he rose to literary and political prominence, he brought national fame to his home town. Will Rogers had White in mind when he said, "Kansas has more real newspapermen than all the rest of the states combined." White was an independent Republican who took his politics seriously, yet was the friend and confidant of leaders of both political parties. If he thought the occasion demanded, he could forsake the organized parties, as he did in 1924 when he ran for governor as an independent. But White's greatest influence derived from his writings. Through his elegant editorial voice, he interpreted the eagerness of Middle Western people for a rule of true democracy.

W. A. White died January 29, 1944. His courage, conscience and intelligence, abetted by a keen sense of humor, made him highly respected. He helped mold the America of his day.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Lyon County
Milepost 132, Emporia service area


McPherson County



In 1825 President James Monroe approved a bill providing for the survey of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to New Mexico and the making of treaties to insure friendly relations with Indians along the route. A mile west of this sign, on Dry Turkey Creek, a monument marks the site of a council on August 16, 1825, between U.S. Commissioners Reeves, Sibley and Mather, and Son-ja-inga and fifteen other head men of the Kansas or Kaw nation. Negotiations were conducted through "Old Bill" Williams, a noted guide and trapper. For a consideration of $800 in cash and merchandise the chiefs promised that the tribe would not molest travelers. Earlier, at Council Grove, a similar treaty was made with the Osage Indians.

Old US-81, McPherson County
4 miles southeast of K-61 junction


Marion County



Beginning in 1874, hundreds of peace-loving Mennonite immigrants settled in central Kansas. They had left their former homes in Russia because a hundred-year-old immunity from established religious orthodoxy and military service was being threatened.

The Alexanderwohl community, so named because of a solicitous visit by Czar Alexander I with Prussian Mennonites in 1821, had lived happily in southern Russia for more than 50 years before coming to America. Originating in the Netherlands in the 16th century, the community moved to Prussia in the 17th century and later to Russia, always seeking freedom from intolerance and persecution. Their decision to come to America and Kansas, where they chose lands in Marion, Harvey, McPherson and other nearby counties, was due largely to the efforts of the Santa Fe railroad's foreign immigration department. With them they brought the hard winter wheat which has since helped to make Kansas the breadbasket of the world.

The Alexanderwohl church is typical of many Mennonite congregations in this part of Kansas. Today these religious folk prosper in a modern world while retaining their original philosophy of freedom and manner of worship.

This is a two-sided marker with the same text on both sides.

K-15, Marion County
East side of highway, roadside turnout, 1 mile north of Goessel


Marshall County



Six miles northwest is Alcove Springs, named in 1846 by appreciative travelers on the Oregon Trail who carved the name on the surrounding rocks and trees. One described the Springs as "a beautiful cascade of water... altogether one of the most romantic spots I ever saw."

This country was well-known to early-day traders and "mountain men" as well as to later travelers to the Far West. John C. Fremont and his 1842 exploring expedition bivouacked at the Springs, and Marcus Whitman, with a thousand emigrants to Oregon, stopped there in 1843.

Utah-bound Mormons and California-bound goldseekers followed, for only a short distance above was Independence Crossing, the famous ford across the Big Blue river. The Donner party, most of whom later froze or starved in the Sierras, buried its first member, Sarah Keyes, near the Springs in 1846.

The great Tuttle Creek Reservoir at full pool level extends along the Big Blue from Independence Crossing southward nearly to Manhattan.

US-77, Marshall County
One mile north of Blue Rapids



In 1849, Frank Marshall obtained permission from the U.S. government to establish a trading post and ferry before Kansas opened for settlement. Thousands of wagons lined up to cross the Blue River on the Oregon-California Trail as settlers headed northwest and gold seekers headed to California. Marshall’s ferry transported three wagons at a time.

The Big Blue river is quite a stream of water and when it is high has to be ferried. At the time of our crossing the water had fallen so as to be fordable. Although a cold and wet morning the boys took to water like young ducks.—John H. Clark, 1852

After Kansas Territory opened for settlement in 1854, Marshall’s family joined him from Missouri. He named Marysville after his wife; the county was named for him. Marysville eventually became the county seat. In 1860 the town became a station on the Pony Express and later a stop on the Overland Stage Line.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-36, Marshall County
North roadside turnout, one mile east of Marysville


Meade County



In 1874 twenty-seven persons were murdered by Indians on the western frontier of Kansas. Several times during the summer warriors broke away from the restraint of their reservation in Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) and moved north killing and plundering. On August 24, Chief Medicine Water and a band of twenty-five Cheyenne ambushed six men of a surveying company eleven miles southwest of here. After a running fight of three miles the oxen drawing the surveyors' wagon were shot. All the men were killed and three were scalped. Two days later their bodies were found by other members of the party and were buried temporarily in a common grave near a solitary cotton- wood five miles south of this marker. For many years the "Lone Tree" which gave it name to this massacre was a famous prairie landmark.

US-54, Meade County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile west of Meade


Miami County



Osawatomie - the name derives from a combination of Osage and Pottawatomie - was settled in 1854 by Free-State families from the Ohio Valley and New England. John Brown, soon to become famous for his militant abolitionism, joined five of his sons at their homes near the new town in October 1855. By the spring of 1856, local defiance of Proslavery laws and officials was so notorious that 170 Missourians "punished" the area by looting Osawatomie. Two months later Free-State men destroyed a nearby Proslavery camp. On August 30 occurred the second battle of Osawatomie, in which a Proslavery force of 400 drove out defenders, 40 men led by John Brown, and then plundered and burned the town. Among those killed that day was Brown's son Frederick.

At the John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie is the cabin of the Rev. Samuel Adair, Brown's brother-in-law, with whom he often stayed. The Republican party of Kansas was organized at Osawatomie in May, 1859, with Horace Greeley, famous editor of the New York Tribune, as the convention's principal speaker.

6th Street, Osawatomie, Miami County
At old Land Office, 6th Street and Lincoln Avenue, Osawatomie

See John Brown Museum State Historic Site


Mitchell County



American Indians considered Waconda Springs a sacred site. Translated similarly by other tribes, the name comes from a Kaw word meaning “Great Spirit.” The legend tells of the beautiful Waconda who fell in love with the warrior Takota from a competing tribe. Their forbidden relationship led to a battle. Takota was fatally shot and fell into the springs. Waconda followed her lover into the waters.

Considered neutral territory, the springs drew Kaws, Pawnees, Comanches, and Osages to the site.

As the Indians were forced from their lands, American settlers showed interest in the springs. Businesses bottled the mineral water to sell as tonic and opened a health spa in 1884, drawing American tourists. The owners claimed the waters could cure a range of maladies.

The springs were submerged under Waconda Lake when Glen Elder Dam was built in 1969.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-24, Mitchell County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles east of Cawker City


Montgomery County


The Bloody Benders54. THE BLOODY BENDERS

Near here are the Bender Mounds, named for the infamous Bender family - John, his wife, son, and daughter Kate - who settled here in 1871. Kate soon gained notoriety as a self proclaimed healer and spiritualist. Secretly, the four made a living through murder and robbery.

Located on a main road, the Benders sold meals and supplies to travelers. Their murders were carried out by use of a canvas curtain that divided the house into two rooms. When a traveler was seated at the table, his head was outlined against the curtain. The victim was then dispatched from behind with a hammer, and the body was dropped into a basement pit, later to be buried in an orchard.

As more and more travelers disappeared, suspicion began to center on the Benders. They disappeared in the spring of 1873, shortly before inquisitive neighbors discovered the victims' bodies. The Benders are believed to have killed about a dozen people, including one child.

Although stories abound, the ultimate fate of the murderous Bender family is uncertain. Some say they escaped, others that the were executed by a vengeful posse. Their story is unresolved, and remains one of the great unresolved mysteries of the old West.

US-400 and US-169 interchange, Montgomery County
Rest area, north of Cherryvale



During the Civil War, militias from both the Union and Confederate sides were stealing the Osages’ cattle, harassing their villages, and blaming the Indians for raids actually committed by Americans. Osage leader Charles Mongrain cautioned everyone to leave his people alone: “I most earnestly warn all intruders, trespassers, and others not citizens of the Osage nation to leave the nation immediately.”

In May 1863, a few miles east of here, an Osage hunting party confronted about 20 strangers riding through their territory. A shot was fired, and one of the Osage went down. His comrades chased the trespassers about 15 miles and finally overtook them near Drum Creek, killing all but two (who escaped). The strangers turned out to have been Confederate officers, marching west with orders to recruit volunteers and encourage rebellion in New Mexico & Colorado. The Osage had foiled the plot.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-160, Montgomery County
Roadside turnout, one mile east of Independence



The Sturgis Treaty (also known as the Drum Creek Treaty) has been described as a “stupendous wrong,” a “brazen steal,” and a “thoroughly planned fraud.” Signed in 1868 and sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification, the treaty would have transferred 8 million acres of Osage land directly to the Leavenworth, Lawrence, & Galveston Railroad for just 20 cents an acre. The railroad, in turn, would pocket huge profits by selling the land to settlers.

The federal government’s lead negotiator for the treaty was William Sturgis, president of the Leavenworth, Lawrence, & Galveston. When Kansas officials learned as much, they raced to Washington, D.C., to expose the fraud and prevent ratification. The treaty was withdrawn, and a new one was negotiated in 1870, which paid the Osages $1.25 an acre and placed the land in the public domain.

Note: In 2012, current marker 55, "Frontier in Montgomery County," replaced old historical marker 55, "Montgomery County," which was archived at the Brown Mansion in 1999.  Old marker 55 is solely owned and maintained by the Coffeyville Historical Society.

Montgomery County
US-169, Brown Mansion parking lot, Coffeyville

Morris County



Council Grove takes its name from a council of Osage Indians and representatives of the U.S. government that met here in 1825 and ended with a historic purchase. The U.S. paid $800 for a right-of-way across Osage land that became the famous Santa Fe Trail. Thousands of traders passed along this route. After Seth Hays opened his trading post here in 1847, Council Grove became one of the most important points on the trail — the last place for freighters going west to get supplies until they reached Bent’s Fort, 600 miles away.

Hays’ post stood on what was then the Kaw reservation, a 400-square-mile preserve established in 1846. Squatters began to occupy the Kaws’ land, farming illegally on the reservation, and by 1872 U.S. officials had forced the Kaws to Oklahoma.

The 1851 mission school is now operated as Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Hays’ trading post still stands today.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-56, Morris County
Riverfront Park, Council Grove


Morton County



The Cimarron Cutoff, or Dry Route, of the old Santa Fe Trail extended southwest from several Arkansas River crossings to the Cimarron River, a distance of 50 to 60 miles. This route was a perilous stretch of arid plains known to travelers as "La Jornada."

About seven miles north of present-day Elkhart, a rugged bluff known as Point of Rocks overlooked a campground much used by travelers because good water was always available from the nearby Middle Spring of the Cimarron.  From here, the trail continued on to Santa Fe, following the river and other landmarks.

William Becknell, who pioneered commercial use of the trail in 1821, and trader Josiah Gregg, author of the classic "Commerce of the Prairies," were among those who stopped at Point of Rocks.  Many others passed this way, traveling to and from Santa Fe.

Elkhart, one of the youngest towns in Kansas, dates to 1913 and the arrival of the Dodge City and Cimarron Valley Railway.

US-56, Morton County
Roadside turnout at OK-KS state line, Elkhart

Nemaha County



Near here the towns of Plymouth and Lexington once stood as outposts on the Lane Trail, approximated today by US-75. Named for abolitionist James H. Lane, the trail was established in 1856 to bypass proslavery strongholds in Missouri and provide free-state settlers a safe route into Kansas. Rock piles known as "Lane's chimneys" marked the trail. Leaving Iowa City, settlers went west into Nebraska and south into Kansas, passing through Plymouth, Lexington, Powhattan, Netawaka, and Holton before arriving in Topeka. The trail also served as part of the underground railroad, used by John Brown and others to transport slaves north to freedom.

At Plymouth, three miles south of the Nebraska line, and at Lexington, a few miles further south, the settlers built log cabins surrounded by earthen-walled forts for protection. Armed with rifles and bolstered by a small cannon at Plymouth, the settlers established an antislavery presence that helped bring "Bleeding Kansas" into the Union as a free state. Today, however, Plymouth and Lexington exist only as a memory.

This marker was relocated in fall 2013.

Previous location:
Rest area at junction US-36 Hwy & Acorn Rd (at the Brown-Nemaha county line), west of US-36/US-75 junction.

Current location:
US-75, Nemaha County
Roadside turnout on west side of highway, approximately 1/2 mile north of Sabetha city limits.


Neosho County



Originally from the Ohio Valley, the Osages agreed in 1810 to a treaty to relinquish lands in Missouri and relocate along the Neosho River in Kansas. Under the leadership of Chief Pahuska, called White Hair, the Osages lived and hunted on their new reservation where they faced attacks from their rivals, the Cherokees. A trading post was soon established and in 1824 the first Indian mission and school in this area was built. Operated by Presbyterians and associated denominations, it was located about 3.5 miles west of here. The missionaries failed to attract pupils and to convince the Osages to trade a hunting lifestyle for farming. The mission was also unsuccessful in converting the Osages to Christianity and closed in 1829. A Catholic mission established in 1842 found more success than the early mission. During the Civil War, the Osages formed a regiment and helped counter a Confederate attack. The Osages were forced to leave Kansas in 1870. Today the Osage Nation’s federal reservation lands (approximately 1.5 million acres) are located in north central Oklahoma. 

Note: This sign replaced old historical marker 52 "Mission Neosho," 2012.

US-59, Neosho County
Roadside turnout at 160th St, 1.5 miles north of Erie


Osage Catholic Mission51. OSAGE CATHOLIC MISSION

The mission was founded in 1847 for Osage Indians living along the Neosho and Verdigris rivers. A manual labor school for boys was established by the Jesuits and a department for girls by the Sisters of Loretto. Highest recorded enrollment was 239. In 1848 the first Catholic church in southern Kansas was built.  During the Civil War when property was laid waste throughout the border, the mission was always spared and school was never suspended.  When the Osages moved to Indian territory in 1870, white children gradually replaced the Indians.  The school became St. Francis Institution for boys and St. Ann's Academy for girls.  St. Francis closed in 1891 and St. Ann's was destroyed by fire in 1895.  Notable in service here were Mother Bridget Hayden and Fathers John Schoenmakers, John Bax and Paul Mary Ponziglione, the latter an Italian nobleman.  A town, Osage Mission, organized in 1867, became St. Paul in 1895.

K-57, Neosho County
Roadside turnout, St. Paul


Ness County


George Washington Carver79. HOMESTEAD OF A GENIUS

A mile and a half south is a quarter section which was homesteaded by one of the great scientist of America, George Washington Carver. Through his discoveries agriculture in the South was revolutionized. From sweet potatoes and peanuts alone he made paint, soap, wallboard, milk, medicines, cosmetics and 500 other products, worth millions of dollars. A Negro, whose parents were slaves, he has been called a genius.

Carver was born in Missouri in 1864. He came to Kansas as a boy, drifting from Fort Scott to Paola, Olathe, Minneapolis and Highland. He did odd jobs, took in washing, cooked, attending school when he could. At 17, classed with 6th graders in Minneapolis, he was reported "perfect in deportment." He was 22 when he homesteaded here, and built a sod house. Two years later he mortgaged his claim to go to college. At 32, with a master's degree, he went to Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, on a salary of $1,500. Although Edison once offered him $100,000 a year, he remained there until his death in 1943.

K-96, Ness County
15 miles west of Ness City


Norton County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Osage County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Osborne County



Geodetic CenterOn a ranch 18 miles southeast of this marker a bronze plate marks the most important spot on this continent to surveyors and mapmakers. Engraved in the bronze is a cross-mark and on the tiny point where the lines cross depend the surveys of a sixth of the world's surface. This is the Geodetic Center of the United States, the "Primary Station" for all North American surveys. It was located in 1901 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Later Canada and Mexico adopted the point and its supporting system as the base for their surveys and it is now known as the "North American Datum." What Greenwich is to the longitude of the world, therefore, a Kansas pasture is to the lines and boundaries of this continent. It must not be confused with the Geographic Center of the United States, which is 42 miles north, in Smith County.

US-281, Osborne County
Roadside mile north of Osborne


Ottawa County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Pawnee County



This 280 acres was collateral for the nation's first Federal Land Bank loan made on April 10, 1917 to farmer-stockman A. L. Stockwell. In those days, farmers and ranchers found credit hard to come by. If available, it was often very expensive . . . as much as 10 percent per month.

Recognizing the importance of agriculture to our nation's economy, Congress passed the Federal Farm Loan Act which was signed into law by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The Federal Land Bank, which makes long-term real estate loans to farmers and ranchers, was the first of the three lending institutions which comprise today's cooperative Farm Credit System.

Wichita was granted the first of 12 Federal Land Bank charters nationwide and charged with developing lending programs in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. In turn, it issued the first local association charter to the Pawnee County National Farm Loan Association of Larned.

Originally started with seed money appropriated by Congress, the Farm Credit System has long since repaid all government funds. Today, it is entirely owned by the farmers and ranchers it serves.

US-56, Pawnee County
Southwest of Larned


110. CAMP CRILEY 1872

Camp Criley was established in 1872 as a supply station for workmen building the Santa Fe Railroad, name changed to Garfield in 1873 by pioneers settling here.

This park was planned in 1880 and the first trees planted in April 1882. The Band Shell erected in the early 1900's used for many concerts by local musicians. Hitching Post and Stone Stile used in the early days by ladies when mounting their horse brought from the former A. H. Moffet place. Band Shell and stone fixtures were restored in 1975 with funds from Jordaan Foundation. M. A. W. Jordaan and sons were pioneer farmers in the area.

Congregational Church organized August 1873
Methodist Episcopal Church chartered October 1878
Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church June 1879

Bricks in base of the sign are from the school building erected in 1884 and made in local kiln.

US-56, Pawnee County
City Park in Garfield



Burdett is the boyhood home of Dr. Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of the planet Pluto. Born in Illinois in 1906, he grew up on a farm northwest of here and was graduated from Burdett High School in 1925.

During his youth, Tombaugh explored the heavens with homemade telescopes. Later he was hired by Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, and discovered Pluto, the outermost planet in our solar system, in 1930.

During his planet search, Tombaugh photographed 65 percent of the sky and spent 7,000 hours examining about 90 million star images. Besides Pluto, his discoveries included six star clusters, one cloud of galaxies, one comet and about 775 asteroids. Few astronomers have seen so much of the universe in such minute detail.

Dr. Tombaugh earned degrees from the University of Kansas and Northern Arizona University. He concluded his career as an astronomy professor at New Mexico State University.

K-156, Pawnee County
West edge of Burdett


Phillips County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Pottawatomie County



From the 1830s to the 1870s, the 2,000-mile road connecting Missouri river towns with California and Oregon was America's greatest transcontinental highway. Several routes led west from the river, converging into one trail by the time Fort Kearny (Neb.) vicinity was reached. One of them began near present Kansas City and passed this point, crossing Rock creek not far from the highway bridge.

Here a great campground was located because of the several fine springs in the vicinity. Scott spring, 180 yard north, still offers the "delicious cold water" mentioned by one traveler in 1846. Local legend says that at times the whole of what is now the Westmoreland townsite was covered by the camps of travelers, their wagons and cattle. Nearby are the graves of several pioneers who died on the trail. One unidentified grave is located just north of the spring.

From a point about two miles south of this marker Kansas highway 99 follows the trail to Westmoreland. In places, ruts of the old trail may still be seen from the modern traveler's car window.

K-99, Pottawatomie County
Roadside turnout, south of Westmoreland



Of Pottawatomie Indian and French ancestry, Louis Vieux was an early resident of this area. Probably born near Lake Michigan, Vieux, with a portion of the Pottawatomies, moved to Iowa and later Indianola, Kan., near Topeka. In 1847 or 1848, Vieux moved to this area of what became Pottawatomie County, located on the Oregon Trail near the Vermillion river crossing. The Vieux family, with its seven children, lived in a log cabin and Vieux built and operated a toll bridge over the river. He charged Oregon Trail travelers one dollar per outfit and it was estimated that he earned as much as $300 per day during the peak season of wagon travel. In 1861, Vieux was one of the signers of a treaty allowing the Pottawatomie to hold lands in common or establish individual claims of 80 acres per person or more, depending on their position in the tribe. Vieux served as a business agent and interpreter and occasionally represented the tribe in Washington, D.C. Near here is the Vieux cemetery where members of the Vieux family and other early settlers were buried.

Hill Road, Pottawatomie County
3.3 miles east of Louisville (off K-99)



St. MarysThis city and college take their name from St. Mary's Catholic Mission founded here by the Jesuits in 1848 for the Pottawatomie Indians. These missionaries, who had lived with the tribe in eastern Kansas from 1838, accompanied the removal to this area. A manual labor school was operated at the mission until 1871. From it developed St. Mary's College, chartered in 1869. In 1931 the college became a Jesuit seminary. A boulder on the campus marks the site of the first cathedral between the Missouri river and the Rocky Mountains. Built of logs in 1849, it became the See of Bishop Miege, "Bishop of the Indians." Vice President Charles Curtis, part Kaw Indian, was baptized in this parish on April 15, 1860.

The mission was an important stopping point on the Oregon Trail. Here also was the U.S. Pottawatomie agency. This building still stands 600 feet northwest of this marker.

US-24, Potawatomie County
East city limits of St. Marys



Vieux CrossingA few miles to the northwest, the Oregon-California trail crossed the Vermillion Creek heading toward the Pacific from the "jumping off" towns on the Missouri River.

The crossing was named for Louis Vieux, a Potawatomi leader of French and Native American lineage who established a toll bridge there in the 1850s. Charging a dollar per outfit, he is said to have made as much as $300 per day during busy times. In addition, he supplied emigrants with hay and grain.

As early as 1819, Thomas Say, zoologist for Stephen H. Long's expedition, camped near the crossing. John C. Fremont came in 1842, guided by Kit Carson, and in 1846 the ill-fated Donner party passed by. Beginning in 1853 the military road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley crossed here, as did the stage line to Denver in 1859. Horace Greeley, a famous newspaper editor and onetime stage passenger, described a meal he had at the crossing as "the hardest I ever paid half a dollar for."

In 1849 tragedy struck when cholera took the lives of emigrants camped at the crossing. They were buried on the creekbank, as were others who died on the trail. On a nearby hill the graves of Louis Vieux, some of his family, and other early settlers can be seen in the Vieux Cemetery.

US-24, Pottawatomie County
Roadside turnout, 2 miles west of Belvue

Pratt County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Rawlins County



The vast expanse of High Plains that today encompasses Rawlins County was once home and hunting ground to Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapaho Indians. With continued railroad construction and the growth of permanent settlements, American westward expansion during the 1860s and 1870s threatened these lands, resulting in increased tension and armed conflict.

On April 23, 1875, the final violent act in the so-called Red River War occurred about 14 miles south of here on Sappa Creek. Waged mainly in Texas, the war ended with the Comanches’ surrender. But a group of about 75 Northern Cheyennes who had fought alongside the Comanches escaped to the north. While camped on Sappa Creek, 40 men of the Sixth U.S. Cavalry attacked them. Two troopers and almost 30 Indians—men, women, and children—were killed. The brutality of this surprise dawn attack remained a bitter memory, perhaps helping explain the murder of more than 30 settlers on Sappa and Beaver Creeks in Rawlins and adjoining Decatur County during the Cheyennes’ famous trek north in the autumn of 1878.

The following year, the city of Atwood was established. It became the seat of county government when Rawlins County was organized in 1881.

Note: This marker was updated in 2011-2012.

Lake Road and Second Street, Rawlins County
Lake Atwood City Park


Reno County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Republic County



Country of the PawneesFor many centuries this region was the homeland of the Republic band (Kitkahahakis) of Pawnees. A numerous and prosperous people, the Pawnees dominated the north central Plains for hundreds of years.

While Pawnee men were hunters, the women were accomplished farmers, tilling the bottomlands of the Republican and along other tributaries.  The Pawnees lived in villages, which contained several large earth lodges that housed as many as 50 people.

I cannot live in a white man’s house of any kind . . . I must live there also so that as I sit I can stretch out my hand and lay it upon mother earth.—Tahi’roossawichi, Pawnee priest

In the summer and winter the Pawnees left their villages and went west and south for buffalo hunts. You can see the remains of an excavated earth lodge at Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site near here. Today the Pawnee tribal lands are in Oklahoma.

Note: This sign was updated in 2011-2012.

US-36, Republic County
Roadside turnout, east end of Republican River bridge in Scandia

See Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site



Pawnee Indian VillageThis is the site of a large, fortified village of the Republican band of Pawnee Indians, occupied during the early 1800s.

As the inscription on the stone marker indicates, the village was long believed by local, state and national historians to be that visited by Zebulon M. Pike in 1808. On the strength of this belief, the site was purchased and presented to the state in 1899 by Elizabeth A. and George Johnson. Later investigations cast doubt on the claim, chiefly because the topography does not match that described by Pike.

Nevertheless, there can be no question that the farsighted and public-spirited action fo the donors save this important location from destruction. Today it is the only major preserved Pawnee village site in the Central Plains area, and this museum, constructed around a scientifically excavated house floor, is unique in Plains archeology.

Republic County
Entrance to the Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

See Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site


Rice County



Land of QuiviraThe Wichitas once populated southern Kansas. They lived in villages of cone-shaped grass lodges, growing crops for food and trade. In the fall and winter they headed west to hunt buffalo. By the 16th century, they were actively trading with tribes in the Southwest. This gave them experience with people in other cultures.  By 1720 the Wichita had migrated South.

When Francisco Vasquez de Coronado rode into a Wichita village in 1541, the Wichita numbered around 200,000. Coronado was searching for Quivira, but he had begun to doubt the stories of this mythical city of gold. He had been told of a land where the king slept each night beneath a tree of golden bells that made soft music in the wind, and the people ate from plates of silver and gold. The allure of finding Quivira was so strong that when he encountered the Wichita, he assumed he had found it. Coronado spent 25 days in Kansas before returning to Mexico.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-56, Rice County
Roadside turnout, 3 miles west of Lyons


Riley County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Rooks County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Rush County



Established in 1867, the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail, which passed near this spot, was first used by the military and some civilian traffic in 1868. The following year Alexander Harvey, a former member of the Sixth Cavalry, built a trading post on the trail on the north bank of Walnut Creek near here, and provided a place to ford the creek.

A few years later, the town of Alexander was founded nearby, taking its name from Alexander Harvey, the original owner of the trading post.

The bulk of the military usage of the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail was over when the Santa Fe Railroad reached Dodge City in 1872. However, it continued to be used for several more years regularly by civilian traffic--hunters, freighters, traders, and settlers.

K-96, Rush County
Rest area in Alexander


Russell County



When railroads first built across Kansas in the 1860s, Plains Indians inhabited much of the central and western part of the state. They did not welcome the incursion, sensing a danger to the buffalo herds that provided them with food, shelter, and clothing. In an attempt to defend their lands, Cheyennes, Arapahos, and other tribes frequently attacked railroad workers and tore up tracks.

Two miles west of this marker in May 1869, a mounted party of Indians dashed out of a deep ravine and attacked a railroad crew of seven. The railroad workers raced to their handcar and pumped desperately for home, firing their rifles as they went. Although no Indians are known to have died, two of the railroad workers were killed and four wounded. A monument to the two who died stands in the Russell cemetery just east of here.

When the railroad reached here in 1867, a construction camp and watering station named Fossil Station was established. The name was changed to Russell in 1871 when a Wisconsin colony established the town.

US-40 Business, Russell County
Roadside turnout, east edge of Russell


Saline County



Historical KansasTen miles ahead is Abilene, first of the major cattle trail towns of Kansas, and famed in the story of the Cowtown West. Following the Civil War, millions of Longhorn cattle were stranded on Texas ranges. Beef-eating Northerners were hungry and the problem was to bring the supply to the markets.

After the westward-building Union Pacific railroad reached Abilene in March, 1867, along came Joseph G. McCoy from Illinois. He chose the town as a cattle-shipping center, built stockyards, and sent circulars all over Texas advising cattlemen to drive their herds up the Chisholm trading trail to the site of present Wichita, then on up McCoy's extension to Abilene. During 1867-1871 more than a million cattle were trailed to Abilene where, for a time in 1871, James B. "Wild Bill' Hickok was the marshal. Hundreds of cowboys, saloonkeepers, gamblers and dancehall girls added to the din until the inhabitants who had come to stay forced the whole kit and boodle to take its market place elsewhere.

Abilene was the boyhood home of President Dwight David Eisenhower from 1891 to 1911. The Eisenhower Home, Museum, Library and Chapel help make it one of Kansas' most interesting cities.

I-70, Saline County
Milepost 265, eastbound rest area near Solomon
38.925990, -97.394436



For centuries Kansas was the home of Native Americans who benefited from the richness of the region: vast herds of buffalo on the plains, deer and other game in the forested river valleys. Native Americans were the first to farm this area, growing corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers in the fertile valley soils.

Today Kansas continues to be a source of agricultural richness, particularly wheat. Kansas produces nearly a fifth of the nation's wheat crop, storing it in huge grain elevators referred to as "prairie cathedrals." Travelers can find beauty in the vast stretches of wheat land, brown when the soil is being prepared for planting in late summer and fall, light green in late fall and winter, lush green in early spring, and golden in June and early July when the crop is ripe and ready for harvest. Travelers during harvest time will see combines cutting wide swaths through the fields of waving grain, soon to become food for millions all over the world.

Salina, an important wheat storage and milling center, lies a few miles to the west. During World War II, Salina's Smoky Hill Army Air Field achieved fame as the location of an important B-29 training base.

I-70, Saline County
Milepost 265, westbound rest area near Solomon



Scott County



To escape Spanish oppression, a group of Indians from Taos Pueblo left their home in New Mexico and settled in what is today Scott County. Here they lived alongside the Kiowa Apaches with whom they hunted and planted crops from the 1660s to 1680s, when Spanish soldiers came to force them back to their homes. Then Indians from Picuris Pueblo arrived in 1696 to join the Apaches, but in 1706, the Spanish came to escort them back. The Apaches probably remained here until the 1730s and then moved south.

They left behind a multi-room pueblo home built of rock and adobe. Inside the pueblowas evidence of ladders used to enter and leave the building from the roof, pottery from the pueblos of the Southwest, and an adobe stand for a stone slab used to grind corn. No other pueblo sites have been located this far north and east. Today the site is within Lake Scott State Park. In 1970 the foundation was rebuilt to appear as it had when discovered in 1898. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-83, Scott County,
Roadside turnout, 10.5 miles north of Scott City
This marker is located along the Western Vistas Historic Byway.



Reconstructed here are the remains of a seven-room pueblo believed to have been built by Pueblo Indians from New Mexico. According to Spanish records Indians from Taos and Picuris Pueblos, fleeing Spanish rule, joined their Apache allies at a place the Spanish called El Cuartelejo. The Taos Indians came in the 1640s, but several years later Spanish soldiers forced them to return to New Mexico.  In 1696 the Picuris settled here but also were returned to New Mexico by Juan de Ulibarri in 1706.

Later Herbert and Eliza Steele owned this property and in 1898 invited scientists to investigate a low mound where they had found artifacts and burned corn. Excavation revealed stone and bone tools, pottery from the pueblos of the Southwest, large quantities of burned corn, and the stone foundation of an adobe pueblo. No other pueblo sites have been located this far north and east.

In 1970 the foundation was rebuilt to appear as it had when discovered in 1898. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-83, Scott County,
Located inside Scott State Park
These markers are located along the Western Vistas Historic Byway.


Sedgwick County



At the close of the Civil War when millions of longhorns were left on the plains of Texas without a market, the Union Pacific was building west across Kansas. Joseph McCoy, an Illinois stockman, believed these cattle could be herded over the prairies for shipment by rail. He built yards at Abilene and sent agents to notify the Texas cattlemen. The trail he suggested ran from the Red river to Abilene but took its name from Jesse Chisholm, Indian trader, whose route lay between the North Canadian river and this vicinity. In 1867 the first drives were made and during the next five years more than a million head moved north past this place. Eventually the railroads and the barbed wire of settlers closed the long trails. But the cowboys of these great drives, living in the saddle for more than a month, swimming flooded river, fighting night stampedes, have become the heroes of an American epic.

North Broadway, Sedgwick County
Roadside turnout, 0.2 miles north of I-235, Wichita



Hundreds of Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas, Apaches, and Comanches camped not far from here in 1865 to negotiate peace with the U.S. government. Both sides at the Little Arkansas council hoped their new treaties would put an end to the hostilities. Less than a year earlier, a Colorado volunteer militia had attacked a peacefulCheyenne and Arapaho village near Sand Creek, Colorado, slaughtering about 400 men, women, and children.

"My people have never first drawn a bow or fired a gun against whites. There has been trouble on the line between us, and my young men have danced the war dance. But it was not begun by us.”—Ten Bears, Comanche

Although the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the agreements, the peace held for about 18 months until Gen. Winfield Hancock led 1,400 soldiers from Fort Larned on a campaign against the Cheyennes and Arapahos. Two years after the Little Arkansas council, the same parties signed new treaties at Medicine Lodge Creek, 76 miles southwest of here. Those agreements also failed to stop the wars on the plains.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

North Broadway, Sedgwick County
West side of street, 0.25 miles north of W 61st St N, Park City


Seward County



Many Kansas towns originated as potential railroad centers. Three miles west of this marker Arkalon was founded in 1888 at the Cimarron river crossing of the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska railway, a part of the Rock Island. Town lots were cheap, and people flocked in by the hundreds. However, the deep sand of the area was a serious handicap to the movement of horse-drawn freight, and the town never succeeded in establishing itself as a profitable marketing point. It was sustained for years by the large stockyards but by the 1920's most of the population had gone.

Mighty Samson bridge over the Cimarron river in Seward County, Kansas The railroad, slowed by a hairpin curve and plagued by flooding on the Cimarron which brought severe damage to equipment and freight, diverted several miles of track from the town to utilize the bridge it erected here in 1939. Called the Samson of the Cimarron, the bridge is 1269 feet long and was considered an engineering marvel of the day. It helped speed the commerce of the Southwest to its destination, and Arkalon to oblivion.

Thirteen miles southwest is Liberal, established on the railroad in 1888, and the Seward County seat since 1892.

US-54, Seward County
Rest area southwest of Kismet



The importance of railroads to the early settlement and prosperity of the West is nowhere better illustrated than in the stories of two Seward county towns. Fargo Springs, founded in 1885 about three miles south of here, was the first town established in the county. The next year Springfield was located where this marker stands. In June it was named the temporary county seat but in August, after an election, the government was moved to Fargo Springs. The vote was contested and when recanvassed in 1887 the county seat was returned to Springfield.

Fargo Springs ended its brief existence in 1888. It not only had lost its fight with Springfield, but more disastrously had been bypassed by the rapidly building Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska railway, part of the Rock Island. Springfield in turn failed to get its railroad and in 1892 lost the county seat to Liberal (16 miles south). In 1897 the Springfield and Fargo Springs town- sites were officially vacated.

Two towns withered and died~unhappy proof of the vital need for rail connections in the vast and then underdeveloped Western frontier.

US-83, Seward County
Roadside turnout, 16 miles north of Liberal, on site of old Springfield



Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, with 36 soldiers and Father Juan de Padilla, marched north from the Rio Grande valley in the spring of 1541. Coronado's objective was the land of Quivira, described to the Spaniards as a fabulously wealthy kingdom where gold was commonplace. In June the expedition entered the Arkansas River to what is now Rice and McPherson counties. The Spaniards found no gold, only the grass lodges of the Quiviran Indians, and the guide who misled Coronado was killed.

After more than a month spent in exploring central Kansas, the expedition returned to the Southwest, disappointed in the quest for riches but favorably impressed by the land itself.  Juan Jaramillo, Coronado's lieutenant, wrote: "It is not a hilly country, but has table-lands, plains, and charming rivers . . . . I am of the belief that it will be very productive of all sorts of commodities."

According to legend, Seymour S. Rogers, the first settler here in the mid-1880s, was said to have been "mighty liberal" with water from his well.  From this came the name for the city established here in 1888.

US-54, Seward County
Jewel Avenue in City Park, Liberal


Shawnee County



15 Capital CityBefore it became the Kansas capital, Topeka was the seat of a free-state government — an alternative to the official proslavery territorial legislature elected in 1855. These two bodies represented opposing factions in Kansas’ battle over slavery. Antislavery Kansans refused to recognize the official legislature because the elections had been heavily tainted by fraud: thousands of residents from proslavery Missouri crossed the border to cast illegal ballots in Kansas. The antislavery faction elected its own delegates in 1855 to draw up a state constitution. Lest the situation devolve into all-out civil war, President Franklin Pierce ordered federal troops to march into Topeka in July 1856 and shut down the free-state government. But the city remained a hotbed of antislavery agitation. When Kansas finally gained admission to the Union in 1861 - as a free state - Topeka became the lawful capital.

Topeka was also the birthplace of U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis (b.1860).  Curtis was the first American Indian and the first Kansan to hold the office.

Note: This sign was updated and relocated in 2014.

Previous Location:
US-75, Shawnee County
Roadside turnout, 37th Street and S Topeka Avenue in Topeka

Current Location:
SW 10th Avenue, Shawnee County
SE corner of SW 10th Ave & SW Harrison St, Topeka



The Kansa, for whom the state is named, once occupied 20 million acres of land in eastern and northern Kansas. In 1825 the U.S. government reduced the lands to a reservation west of Topeka. In 1846 tribe members were sent to a 256,000 acre reservation near Council Grove and by 1872 they were forced onto 137 acres in Oklahoma. Today they are known as the Kaw Nation.

Near this site was a Kansa village with a population between 700 and 800. Occupied between 1828 and 1844 it included 80 bark-covered houses, about 30 feet in diameter with a central hearth. It was the largest of four nearby villages. The leader of this village was Fool Chief (Gahíge Wadáyinga). Gahíge means “chief;” Wadáyinga means "brave and courageous even to rashness."

The villagers had increasing contact with European and American goods and customs. They planted corn, beans, and squash and also had wheat or barley and domestic horses and hogs of European origin. The village was abandoned after the 1844 Kansas River flood.

Between 2006 and 2013 the site was excavated before the reconstruction of the intersection of Menoken Road and U.S. 24, which buried most of the site.

US-24, Shawnee County
Roadside turnout, US-24 & Menoken Road


Sheridan County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Sherman County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Smith County


37. THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER (2 locations)

In a park three miles north and one mile west is the exact geographic center of the 48 contiguous states. The location has been officially established by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Two Locations along US-36, Smith County
1. 0.3 miles west of K-181 junction
2. 0.7 miles east of K-181 junction


Stafford County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Stanton County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Stevens County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Sumner County



A mile southeast of this marker the Chisholm Trail entered Kansas. It took its name from Jesse Chisholm, Indian trader, whose route lay between the North Canadian river and present Wichita. In 1867 it was extended from the Red river to Abilene when the building of the Union Pacific gave Texas cattle an Eastern market. Over this long trail more than a million head were driven before the Santa Fe built south and brought the drives to Newton, 1871, and the next year to Wichita. Incoming setters in Kansas soon fenced off the land and by 1876, drovers had abandoned the trail. In 1880, however, the railroad built to Caldwell, one mile north, and drives were resumed. It is estimated that two million longhorns were driven across the prairie here on a road that in many places was a quarter of a mile wide and as bare as a modern highway.

US-81, Sumner County
Roadside turnout, 1 mile south of Caldwell



The Chisholm Trail probably began as a buffalo migration route, linking summer pastures in the Central Plains to winter pastures in Texas. American Indians followed the buffalo and shared the route with U.S. explorers, who mapped it in the 1850s. In 1865 Jesse Chisholm, for whom the trail was eventually named, drove 250 cattle over the trail to what is today Wichita. An estimated 5 million head followed the route into Kansas over the next 20 years.

Traffic became thick after 1867 when Joseph McCoy built a large stockyard on the Kansas Pacific Railroad at Abilene (140 miles north of here) --- the nearest shipping point to Texas. It took about three months to drive a herd from Texas to Abilene and cost roughly 75 cents a head. The same animals sold for 10 to 20 times that amount in Kansas City. In 1885 Kansas imposed quarantine on Texas cattle, which carried a deadly tick, and the cattle trails closed. By then Kansas had become a leader in the nation’s livestock industry.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

I-35 (Kansas Turnpike), Sumner County
Milepost 26, Belle Plaine service area


Thomas County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Trego County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Wabaunsee County



When Kansas territory was opened for white settlement on May 30, 1854, a bitter contest developed over the slavery question. Established the following December, Topeka, 25 miles ahead, favored the Free-State cause even though the territorial government was at first Proslavery. Rebelling Free Staters attempted to set up a rival legislature in Topeka in 1856. Acting for President Franklin Pierce came Col. E. V. Sumner with five companies of U.S. dragoons and two cannons specially loaded for legislators. Lawmajkers understood the message and adjourned reluctantly, but Topeka got even. When the city named its first streets for early Presidents, Pierce was omitted.

Free Staters eventually won out and Kansas became a state January 29, 1861, with Topeka as the capital. The Statehouse, started in 1866, was completed in 1903. Topeka is known throughout the world from the contribution of its Menninger Foundation to mental health. South of the city the Topeka Army Air Field (later Forbes Air Force Base) was a processing center in World War II for B-17, B-24 and B-29 aircraft and crews. From a few miles west of Topeka to Lawrence, I-70 generally follows a main route of the Oregon-California trail, traveled from the late 1830's to 1860 by thousands of emigrants, in hundreds of wagon trains.

I-70, Wabaunsee County
Milepost 337, eastbound rest area near Paxico


"Texas shipped up the horns,” Kansas cowmen used to say, “and we put the bodies under them.” They meant that bony steers from Texas grew fat in the Bluestem pastures of Kansas. Stockmen drove their herds here along the old cattle trails, arriving by late April. The animals would graze and gain weight during May and June, then get shipped off to the Kansas City stockyards in July and August.

This yearly cycle began in the 1870s and by the late 19th century, cattle were shipped by rail.  For thousands of years prior to that, the great bison herds roamed these acres. Their grazing and migration, along with periodic prairie fires shaped the ecology of the region. Eventually hunters drove the bison nearly to extinction. The Flint Hills extends from here to Oklahoma in a north-south strip approximately 60 miles in width. In the 1920s the Kansas Board of Agriculture began pushing a second name, “Bluestem pasture,” as a marketing vehicle. This area remains one of North America’s most fertile grazing belts.



Beecher BiblesIn 1856 free-state colonists from Connecticut joined with earlier settlers to found the town of Wabaunsee, 15 miles northwest of here. Brooklyn abolitionist and clergyman Henry Ward Beecher helped raise funds to supply the settlers with the new Sharps repeating rifle for their defense during the sometimes-violent era of “Bleeding Kansas.” According to an 1856 New York Tribune article, Beecher “believed that the Sharps rifle was a truly moral agency, and that there was more moral power in one of those instruments, so far as the slaveholders of Kansas were concerned, than in a hundred Bibles.” Beecher's congregation also supplied the colonists with Bibles, perhaps leading to the widespread use of the term “Beecher Bibles” to describe the rifles. Wabaunsee residents soon became involved in the Underground Railroad, helping enslaved people to freedom in Canada. Between 1860 and 1862 the community completed the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The nearby Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie today interprets the history of this community.

Note: This marker replaced old historical marker 97 "Historical Kansas" in 2012.

I-70, Wabaunsee County
Milepost 337, westbound rest area near Paxico


Wallace County



First called Camp Pond Creek, Fort Wallace was established in 1865. The fort served as the headquarters for troops given the task of protecting travelers headed west along the Smoky Hill Trail to the Denver gold fields.  Fort Wallace was the westernmost military outpost in Kansas, and from 1865 to 1878 served as one of the most active military posts in the Central Plains.  Troops often spent time in the field, and the fort was several times attacked by Plains Indians striving to defend their lands and protect their way of life.

The fort was located about two miles to the southeast of this marker.  Abandoned in 1882, nothing is now visible of the stone and wood buildings where once more than 300 men were stationed.

Just north of where the fort once stood, the old post cemetery still exists, enclosed by stone walls within the Wallace Township Cemetery.  In 1867 U.S. soldiers erected a monument as a tribute to their comrades who had been killed in action and buried there.  Although the soldiers' remains were later moved to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, the monument still stands in their honor.

US-40, Wallace County
Fort Wallace Museum, east of Wallace city limits

This marker is located along the Western Vistas Historic Byway.



When the Kansas Territory was created in 1854, it stretched all the way to the Rocky Mountains. The current state boundary, a few miles west of here, took effect in 1861 when Kansas was admitted into the Union and the Colorado Territory was established. Thousands of Colorado-bound pioneers passed through here along the Smoky Hill Trail by wagon and on the Butterfield Overland Despatch. Beginning in 1865 this famous stage line carried passengers, freight, and mail from the eastern point of the railroad to Denver. The Omaha Herald cautioned stagecoach passengers to “expect annoyance, discomfort, and some hardships,” although humorist and author Mark Twain found travel to be an adventure.

Our coach was a great swinging and swaying stage, of the most sumptuous description--an imposing cradle on wheels. It was drawn by six handsome horses.—Mark Twain, 1861

In 1865, Fort Wallace was established as a U.S. Cavalry outpost, about 25 miles east of here. The stage line operated until the railroad was completed in 1870.

Note: This sign was updated in 2012.

US-40, Wallace County
Weskan Park, Weskan


Washington County



Hollenberg RanchBegun in 1858, the Hollenberg Ranch, four miles north and one mile east of here, served as a stop on the Oregon-California Trail until the late 1860s. Gerat and Sophia Hollenberg, German emigrants, sold food and other supplies, lodging, and draft animals to passing travelers. Settlers, freighters, soldiers, stagecoach passengers, and Pony Express riders all stopped there.

For a year and a half in 1860 and 1861, the Pony Express operated like a relay race delivering mail between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California.  Wiry riders, often mere boys, hurried their horses between stations that were about ten miles apart.  At each station they changed to a fresh mount and at every third sation a rested rider took over.  Through such teamwork the mail could cross half a continent in about a third of the time required by stagecoach.  By mid-1861, however, the transcontinental telegraph was carrying messages at the speed of electricity, and the Pony Express could not compete.

US-36 & K-148, Washington County
11 miles west of Marysville on K-148



This building, constructed in 1857 by G.H. Hollenberg on his ranch here on the Oregon Trail, was a station on the Pony Express route in 1860-1861.  It is believed to be the only such station which has remained unaltered on its original site.

At Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site
K-243, Hanover

See Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site


Wichita County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Wilson County



Kansas has long been oil country. There are legends that Indians held council around the lights of burning springs. Emigrants, it is known, skimmed "rock tar" from such oil seeps to grease the axles of their wagons.

A mile southeast is the site of one of the most famous oil wells in the United States, Norman No. 1, first commercially successful well of the Mid-Continent field. It was drilled in 1892 by W. M. Mills of Pennsylvania. Within 22 days, at 832 feet, the hole began filling with oil. Mills plugged it, reporting a poor well and began to drill another. Then he hurried to Pittsburgh with samples. These so galvanized operators Guffey and Galey that they leased a million acres, while Norman No. 1 and its secret remained plugged for ten months. In the next two years they drilled over 100 wells, then sold out to Standard Oil.

Oil was first drilled in Kansas in 1860, near Paola, but the sinking of Norman No. 1 began the continuous development of the Mid-Continent field, the nation's largest, which spreads over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

US-75, Wilson County
Roadside turnout, west of Neodesha


Woodson County


No historic markers currently are located in this county.


Wyandotte County



Just east of this marker, at a point where an old Indian trail led to the water's edge, Moses Grinter established the first ferry on the Kansas River. The year was 1831, and Grinter became the earliest permanent white settler in the area. His ferry was used extensively by travelers over the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Scott military road, and by traders, freighters and soldiers traveling between the forts or to Santa Fe. This place was known as Military or Delaware Crossing, and sometimes as Secondine, and here the first non-military post office in Kansas was established on September 10, 1850.

In 1857 Grinter built the large brick house still standing to the north and lived there until his death in 1878.  He and his part Delaware wife are buried in the churchyard one-fourth mile beyond.  The Union Pacific, Eastern Division, built through here in 1863-1864.  In 1869, as the Kansas Pacific it was the first railroad to reach the western border of the state. 

The Chouteau family, long prominent in the fur trade, operated posts in this vicinity as early as the 1820s.  Delaware, Wyandot, Munsee and Shawnee Indians were among Eastern tribes resettled in this area beginning in 1830.  Near here were the Delaware agency, smithy, and Baptist and Methodist missions.  By the 1870s remnants of these tribes had been removed to reservations in present Oklahoma.

K-32 (Kaw Drive), Wyandotte County
Roadside turnout, east of I-435 Interchange

See Grinter Place State Historic Site



This marker was removed from the state inventory.

Previous Location:
US-24, Wyandotte County
East of Junction of K-7 and US-24 in roadside turnout

Current Location:
Wyandotte County Museum



Where the Kaw river joins the mighty Missouri in its sweep eastward, has witnessed many events of historical significance to this area, among them:

1804. Lewis and Clark, on their epic exploring trip assaying the new Louisiana Purchase, camped 3 days 4 blocks east.

1809. Louis Bertholet built a cabin 3 blocks south - first white settler.

1843. The Wyandotte Indians came from Ohio and purchased land from the Delaware tribe. The Wyandottes established a ferry on the Kaw 3 blocks east; their council house, school, and jail 1 block northeast; and Huron Indian cemetery 2 blocks west.

1855. First court house and postoffice 3 blocks northeast.

1859. Wyandotte Constitutional Convention drafted the Kansas State Constitution in session at Lipman's Hall, 5 blocks northeast.

Minnesota Avenue, Wyandotte County
Minnesota Avenue east of 4th Street, Kansas City