AREA: 213,098 sq km (82,277 sq mi).
POPULATION: 2,554,000.
CAPITAL: Topeka, pop. 120,300.
ECONOMY: Industry: transportation equipment, food processing, printing and publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum, mining. Agriculture: cattle, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, hogs, corn. Wichita turns out half the world’s general-aviation aircraft; Kansas City makes automobiles. Among the top ten states in crude-oil production, Kansas also banks on one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields. Salt deposits near Hutchinson are the remnant of a shallow sea that once submerged the Great Plains. Although no other state grows more wheat—Mennonites from Europe introduced a hardy winter variety in the 1870s—livestock earns more for Kansas.

Motto: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)
Nicknames: Sunflower State, Jayhawk State, Breadbasket of America
Flower: Sunflower
Bird: Western Meadowlark
Song: Home on the Range
Origin of Name: From a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind"
Major Industries: Wheat, Cattle, Aircraft
Historical Sites: Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Museum and Library, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, Fort Scott Historic Site, Boot Hill Museum's Front Street, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Old Abilene Town
Points of Interest: Wichita Art Museum, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, NCAA Visitors Center
Bordering States: Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri


One million years ago, the high plains of Kansas were the beds of a vast inland sea, which gave life to prehistoric forms now fossilized in Kansas limestone.

The first human inhabitants of Kansas were American Indians, the Plains Indians. Taos Indians built the northern-most pueblo in the Americas, El Cuartelejo, near Scott City. But the state was named after the Kansas River - named by the Kansa Indians camped along its banks. The name "Kansa" is a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."

Barely 50 years after Columbus landed in America, Spanish and French explorers journeyed to the area in search of gold and trade with the Indians. Spanish explorer and Conquistador Coronado came through Kansas in search of gold in 1541 and he noted that there were 25 Wichita villages, some of them numbering over 200 houses. In 1803, Kansas became part of the Louisiana Purchase, and the Santa Fe and Oregon trails opened soon after. Many early pioneers looked no farther than Kansas' fertile land.

Cow chips

Kansas became the 34th state in the Union in 1861. The early settlers/pioneers didn't have it easy. Common were sod houses or dugouts, and because of the shortage of trees/wood for fuel, cow chips were gathered for cooking and heating fires.

Just before the Civil War, the territory was known as "Bleeding Kansas" because of bloody battles between free-staters and pro-slavery forces. Border raiders (Quantrill) from Missouri burned the Free State Hotel in Lawrence, and abolitionist John Brown retaliated by killing five pro-slavery settlers near Pottawatomie Creek.

After the Civil War, railroads rolled into Kansas, making way for the great Texas longhorn cattle drives and the birth of the Wild West. Notorious "cowtowns" like Dodge City, Abilene, and Wichita thrived. Wild West legends like Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Wild Bill Hickok all tried to keep the peace. (See The Infamous)

The 1870s brought immigrants from many European countries and settlers from other states. In 1874, Mennonites from Russia brought Turkey Red wheat, a milestone that led to Kansas becoming a leading wheat producer in the country.

Source: Kansas State Historical Society

Further Link: Female Buffalo Soldier




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