Kansas has an interesting history. Abilene used to be the end of the Chisholm Trail for cowboys taking longhorns to market. Visit Dodge City, where Wyatt Earp tried to maintain law and order when the city was a wild cattle town. Today, it’s the main center of commerce in the area. Have you ever heard of Buffalo Bill Cody? He hunted buffalo on Kansas’ plains to supply food to Union Pacific Railroad workers. By the end of the 19th century, the herds had disappeared because of excessive hunting.
In the 1850s, newspapers reported that Kansas was “bleeding” because of violent fighting over whether the state should be a free or slave state. In 1856, Abolitionists (people who wanted to end slavery) killed five pro-slavery men at the Pottawatomie Massacre. People who wanted the state to enter the Union as a free state in which slavery would be forbidden were nicknamed “Jayhawkers” — that’s why one of Kansas’ nicknames is the “Jayhawk State” or “Jayhawker State.” Tension over the issue of race continued in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation at a public school in Topeka, the state’s capital, was unconstitutional.
Kansas gets its name from a Sioux Indian word meaning “south wind people.” In the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” a tornado picks up Dorothy’s house and carries it away from Kansas — the state is known as the “Cyclone State.” The weather can change frequently. There are often violent storms, including tornadoes, hailstorms, and thundershowers. The abbreviation for Kansas is KS.
Kansas is a West North Central state bordered by Nebraska to the north, Missouri to the east, Oklahoma to the south, and Colorado to the west. The state is located in the center of the contiguous (that is, not including Hawaii and Alaska) United States. That’s why one of its nicknames is “Midway USA.” The American, Canadian, and Mexican Governments use Osbourne County as a reference, or starting, point in mapmaking because of its central location in North America.
If you want to see a variety of landscapes, go to Kansas. The state’s landscape includes hills, woodlands, farms, and cities in the east; wheat farms, area of what’s called canyon country, and sand dunes in the sparsely populated High Plains of the west; and grassland hills in central Kansas. The state is a Great Plains state. See beautiful sunflowers in Kansas’ prairies — that’s why the state’s best-known nickname is the “Sunflower State.” Thousands of gas and oil wells can also be found in its prairies.
If you like bread, Kansas is the state for you. Kansas is one of the leading farming states, producing more than 400 million bushels of wheat each year — that’s usually more than any other state. In fact, two of the state’s nicknames are the “Wheat State” and the “Breadbasket of the Nation.” Wheat isn’t all that Kansas produces; Kansas is among the leading states in corn, sorghum, alfalfa, and hay production. Wheat sales don’t even constitute the largest percentage of annual farm income; livestock sales do.
Even though Kansas is probably most famous for its agricultural production, the state’s manufacturing and service industries generate more revenue for its economy. Wichita, Kansas’ largest city and a well-known cattle town since the 1800s, is now a leading producer of aircraft. In fact, Kansas is the nation’s leading producer of civilian airplanes.
What To See
Visit Atchinson, the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. In 1937, she and her plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while she was attempting to fly around the world.