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Johnson County, KS

Johnson CountyTraders and settlers heading west would have been just one day out of Independence or Westport, Missouri, when they came into this area. From the pages of their diaries they speak to us today about their first night on the prairie at Lone Elm campground, the point where the trails divided, the dangerous crossing at the "Narrows," and the beauty of the Kansas prairie as seen for their first time. One, Thomas Johnson, who established the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission, is the county's namesake.

The story of the Santa Fe and Oregon-California trails is closely tied to the history of Kansas. Trade with the Spanish Southwest began in 1821 as William Becknell established the route leading to Santa Fe. For more than fifty years the Santa Fe Trail was traveled by traders, military units and fortune seekers. Between 1840 and 1870, a quarter of a million Americans crossed the continent on the Oregon-California Trail. These pioneers followed the Santa Fe Trail out of Independence or Westport, Missouri, and then turned north just outside of Gardner, Kansas. With the arrival of the railroad in 1872, came a rush of European immigrants and the county (especially Olathe, described then as the "Eden of Kansas") boomed.

We invite you to share our area's rich history. Visit two authentically restored museums. Experience the beauty of the tallgrass prairie. Walk in the ruts created by thousands of wagon wheels. Friendly folks in each community will accommodate you on your modern-day overland trail adventure.

Explore Johnson County

Esther Brown Memorial Park - South Park Area

Esther Brown Memorial Park was developed in memory of Esther E. Brown, a local resident who organized citizen support in the South Park area for litigation leading to the 1949 Webb vs. School District #90 case and ultimately the Kansas Supreme Court'

Merriam, KS Historical Markers

Wonderscope Children's Museum

Wonderscope Children's Museum is committed to sparking a life-long love of learning in children through the power of play. Wonderscope provides fun, inter-disciplinary arts and sciences exhibits and programs for children 10

Shawnee, KS Discovery Centers

Ensor Farm Historical Site and Museum

The barn at the Ensor Farmsite and Museum was constructed in 1890 of rough sawed lumber and wooden pegged beams houses displays of various farm hand tools, school shop projects and other items reflecting the diverse interests of the Ensor family. The architecture of the farmhouse built in 1892

Olathe, KS Museums

Frisco Train Depot

The 1912-1913 Frisco Train Depot was relocated to the Legler Barn Museum Complex in 1987, from its long time home in old town Lenexa at the intersection of Santa Fe Trail Drive and Pflumm. The Depot features the exhibit By Way of Lenexa:

Lenexa, KS Railroad History

Ernie Miller Nature Center & Park

Enjoy this 113-acre park with three hiking trails, an education center, and an outdoor amphitheater where you can observe owls, hawks, and an indoor/outdoor beehive.

Olathe, KS Nature Centers

Overland Park Golf Club

One of the most popular and best maintained courses in the area, Overland Park Golf Club has 27 regulation golf holes, configured as three 18-hole courses, South, North and West, along with a challenging 9-hole Par-3.

Overland Park, KS Golf Courses

Prairie Wetland

The 55-acre KCPL Prairie Wetland includes 23.6

Gardner, KS Conservation Areas

Antioch Pioneer Cemetery

Antioch Pioneer Cemetery is the resting place of some of the Quakers who were associated with the Mission. The Cemetery dates back to before 1850 and a replica of the original church (Antioch Cumberland Presbyterian, formed in 1850)

Merriam, KS Cemeteries

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum Botanical Garden offers a natural setting with walking trails, waterfalls, colorful flowers and a variety of gardens including a children's discovery garden and a legacy garden.

Overland Park, KS Arboretums

Gardner Historical Museum

The Herman B. Foster house was built in the Spring of 1893. A classic example of Folk Victorian architecture, the house was the residence of one of Gardner's early storekeepers, a partner in the Bigelow-Foster Mercantile Company. In 1902

Gardner, KS Museums

Theatre in the Park

The Theatre in the Park is the largest outdoor community theatre in the country with Broadway style musicals and a variety of special events. The outdoor amphitheatre is tucked into 10 beautiful acres in Shawnee Mission Park with its own entrance. Located just north of I-435 Highway and 87

Shawnee, KS Theatres

SkyZone Trampoline Park

Sky Zone Trampoline Park has all the fun you want for birthday parties, group events, activities, programs and more! Sky Zone is the world'

Shawnee, KS Fun Centers

Explore Johnson County