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
Fred Wolf bought the lots for a park on Mainstreet and in 1930 a bandshell was built by Young Construction Company of Hutchinson for under $4000. There was seating for 35 muscicians. Trees, shrubs, flowers, paths, and a gold fish pool were designed for the park. Soon seating for 250Ellinwood, KS Amphitheaters
St. Joseph Catholic Church with its 150 foot steeple was built of native limestone, quarried near Odin, Kansas. The church was completed and the first Mass was offered Aug. 13, 1902. There are frescoes in the arches near the ceiling, and the pipe organ installed in 1928 at cost of $3,500Ellinwood, KS Historic Churches
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
The Barton County Historical Society Museum & Village lets you take a fascinating walk into the past. The Village is located on a five-acre tract of land that is south of Great Bend.
Nine buildings are part of the Village including an 1871 Pioneer Rock Home, an 1898 Church, a 1910 Depot, a 19Great Bend, KS Museums