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Barton County, KS

Barton CountyThe history of the area that was later to become Barton County, Kansas has an ancient beginning in relation to man, perhaps even more so than her sister counties. This situation was caused by a combination of several phenomena of nature that attracted man to this area. The flood plain created by the Walnut Creek and Arkansas River produced luxuriant pasture which attracted the great game herds which in turn attracted man, the hunter.

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

Brit Spaugh Park And Zoo

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

Barton County Historical Museum & Village

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 19

Great Bend, KS Museums


Wolf Building

The Starr-Wolf Building constructed in 1894 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Ellinwood, KS Historic Buildings

The Great Bend Expo Complex

The Expo Complex is the ideal location for a variety of events. The Expo complex consists of nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor space in three buildings and over 900,000 square feet of outside paved exhibit space. There are also electrical services available to all outside spaces.

Great Bend, KS Civic Centers

Shafer Art Gallery

The L. E. "Gus" and Eva Shafer Memorial Art Gallery has been referred to as the "Gem of the Campus"

Great Bend, KS Arts


Wolf Pond

Wolf Pond is a popular fishing spot, and one of several parks and playgrounds in Ellinwood.

Ellinwood, KS Recreation

Barton County Courthouse

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

Great Bend Mural Project

Great Bend is home to an expanding collection of outdoor murals created by local artists and groups. Several of the brightly colored murals are located in the Main Street business area. Following are murals visitors can enjoy now:

Migration is located at the corner of Main & 16

Great Bend, KS Arts


Santa Fe Depot

The existing Santa Fe Depot is the fourth depot built in Ellinwood and was dedicated on Dec. 17, 1903. The previous depot was hit by lightning and burned in 1902

Ellinwood, KS Railroad History

Explore Barton County