The state of Kansas is famous for being America’s breadbasket and the area of Hutchinson is America’s grain center. But that’s not all. The state is also renowned for manufacturing aviation equipment, and Wichita is among America’s leading private aircraft production centers.
The historic trails in Kansas were crucial for opening up the West, and Dodge City, nicknamed the ‘cowboy capital of the world’, housed at one time the largest cattle market in the world. The town was a brawling, dusty crossroads that was the home of individuals like William Barclay ‘Bat’ Masterson, Wild Bill Hickok, and Wyatt Earp.
You wouldn’t maybe expect it, but the prairie state of Kansas is also a world-class center of psychiatric research and practice, thanks to a famous Topeka family, the Menningers. And let’s not forget to mention Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White, who has been a pioneer and leading editor who helped shape modern-day journalism.
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Quick Facts about Kansas
– The U.S. mainland geographic center lies in Smith County.
– The greatest salt deposits in the world are in Hutchinson.
– Has the world’s largest hard wheat market.
– Longest transportation crossroads in the nation.
– Kansas has more newspapers per citizen than any U.S. state.
– Leads the world in personal aircraft manufacture.
Kansas brief history
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, who was leading a major expedition to explore present-day Kansas, arrived in the region in 1541 from Mexico. He went all the way to what is now Junction City before he returned to Mexico.
Claude Charles Du Tisne, a French explorer, was leading a French expedition in 1719 and met the Wichita and Osage Indian Tribes. The Osage was a Midwestern Native tribe who ruled much of the Great Plains, including land in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
In 1806, Zebulon Montgomery Pike, an American army general, crossed the Kansas area, and after holding a ‘Grand Council’ with the Pawnees Indians, he was the first to raise the American flag over Kansas territory.
William Becknell, an American Captain, was pioneering the Santa Fe Trail, and it wasn’t long before tens of thousands of wagons started to use the trail, traveling the more than 500 miles through Kansas for the highly rewarding trade with the area of New Mexico. It happened that small fortunes could be made in just one single trip.
Reverend Benton Pixley, from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, set up a mission in 1824 for the Osage Indians near what now is Neosho County, and over the following years, the area of Kansas became dotted with mission posts of several denominations. In the year 1827, Fort Leavenworth was founded.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened Kansas to settlers, and the residents could decide for themselves whether or not slavery would be allowed within their borders. This actually set the stage for a turbulent period of many blows over the topic of slavery, and Kansas became known as ‘Bleeding Kansas’. The population continued to grow, nevertheless, and in 1861, on January 29th, Kansas was admitted to the Union.
At the time of the Civil War, Kansas communities were often attacked by Confederate troops and raiders, and in 1863, on August 21st, William Clarke Quantrill, a Confederate guerrilla fighter, raided Lawrence burning over 200 buildings and killing some 150 civilians. Union forces were victorious though on October 25th, 1864, at the ‘Battle of Mine Creek’, and the Confederate invasion threat was over.
The Chisholm Trail to Abilene became more and more important when the railroad had arrived there, and when the railroad moved further west, more of the region’s communities became important cow towns, for example, famed Dodge City, that was founded in 1872.
In the year 1887, the first female mayor, Susanna Salter, was elected in Argonia, and in 1898 Kansas was sending four regiments to take part in the Spanish-American War.
Thousands of Kansas acres became plowed for the first time during World War I to make sure there was enough food available, but during the terrible droughts of the 1930’s, the fields’ dirt carried up away to form horrible terrible dust storms. In the year 1951, the Kansas region had to deal with the worst floods ever, and the damage totaled more than $2.5 billion.
Dwight Eisenhower, Kansas’s adopted son, had won the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956, and the U.S. Supreme Court took a far-reaching decision in 1954 as it struck down Topeka’s school system’s segregation policies.