For man to cross the Great American Desert he required dependable supply of wood and water. The Arkansas River and the Walnut Creek furnished these essentials and so ancient man crossed the area in his travels in search of food and trade articles by following a trail adjacent to the river.
"Long before William Bicknell and his trading party in 1820, followed The (Santa Fe) Trail along the Arkansas River through Kansas to Santa Fe, Indians carried goods from California, thru Kansas, to Minnesota over The Trail. Coronado used it in exploring North America in 1541; Zebulon Pike arrived at Walnut Creek in 1806; 1812 it led McNights party and in 1825, Major George C Sibleys' government survey team; 1829 Major Bennet Riley's Infantry shot its first Buffalo of the expedition."
The Barton County area has many historic points on the Santa Fe Trail, including Fort Zarah, and the Walnut Creek Crossing. A common presence to all of these travelers is Pawnee Rock in the Southwest corner of Barton County, now a national landmark.
Explore Barton County
Santa Fe Trail travelers and traders passed through, traded, camped and hunted where the Barton County Courthouse now stands in the center of town. Historically, Great Bend's downtown has served as a focus for the city's business, civic, and social activities.Great Bend, KS Historic Courthouses
Tucked in Brit Spaugh Park on North Main, the Zoo is great Bend's little jewel. Dedicated to the conservation, preservation and rescue of animals and the education and entertainment of both children and adults, the Zoo is a natural resource for Great Bend and its visitors.
Great Bend, KS Zoos