July 31, 2012

Kansas – “The Sunflower State”


Kansas map


Just the Facts….


bird – Western Meadowlark
flower – Sunflower
tree – Cottonwood
capital – Topeka
union – 34th on January 29, 1861
population – about 2  1/2 million




The Basics 

Kansas was named after a Native American tribe that lived in the region – the “Kansa.”  It was part of the Louisiana Purchase, then part of the Missouri Territory, and finally part of the Kansas Territory before becoming a state.

Kansas is part of America’s Great Central Plain.  As a result, it is relatively flat and mostly prairie.  Kansas can have some severe weather – it is part of tornado alley and experiences more tornadoes than most states.


Its Claim to Fame

Kansas was a hotbed during the fight over slavery – there was a lot of controversy about whether Kansas should be admitted as a free state or slavery state.  Before the Civil War, the only way peace could be maintained was to keep an equal number of free states and slavery states in the Union.   Kansas eventually entered the Union as a free state, but the conflict surrounding its entry brought our country closer to war.

The Sante Fe Trail went through Kansas.  It was a wagon trail that went from Missouri to Sante Fe, New Mexico.  It was so well traveled some people called it one of America’s first highways.  Silver and furs were brought north from Sante Fe to trade for manufactured goods in Missouri.  A number of forts and towns in Kansas were built along the Sante Fe Trail.

The schools within the City of Topeka were the topic of the famous Supreme Court case – Brown v. Board of Education.  The case was a major victory for the Civil Rights Movement – in it the Supreme Court said that it was unconstitutional to separate black and white children into different schools.  Because of this important decision, all students have the right to go to their community school – meaning the school that is closest to their home.


What Makes it Tick

Kansas has many, many farms and is one of the most productive agricultural states in our country.  Its farms grow mostly wheat, hay, sunflowers, and corn.  In fact, about 90% of the land in Kansas is owned by farms or ranches.  There are also quite a few cattle ranches in Kansas, especially in the south and western part of the state.  Historically, many cattle drives went through Kansas, with cattle from ranches in Texas brought up to St. Louis to be sold and shipped to stockyards in Chicago.

Kansas also manufactures quite a few airplanes and aviation equipment.  Some people call Wichita “The Air Capital of the World.”    In the early 1900s, Wichita became home to a number of small airplane companies.  Airplane production in Wichita really took off during the World Wars – four military bombers were made in Wichita each day in 1945!


If You Visited 

If you visited Kansas, you might visit Dodge City and Fort Dodge, to get a feel for the Old West.  Fort Dodge was along the Sante Fe Trail and a popular stopping place for settlers and traders.  Once the Sante Fe Railroad built tracks to Dodge City, it became a booming city.  Ranchers brought their cattle to Dodge City to be put on the railroad, instead of traveling farther north.

Or, you might visit the Pawnee Indian Museum.  The museum tells the story of the powerful Pawnee tribe, which dominated the central great plains in the early 1800s (until native americans were “relocated” by the American government).  The museum is on the site of an actual village that has been partially excavated.


Want to Know More? 

Check our Kansas state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Kansas?  Or, maybe you have visited Kansas?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Kansas?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Kansas to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Kansas.  Visit these websites to learn more: