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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

Santa Fe Trail Marker

This marker, set by The Daughters of the American Revolution and the state of Kansas in 1906

Lenexa, KS Historical Markers

Loomis Home

This home was built in 1882

Merriam, KS Historic Homes


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


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

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


The Prairie Center

The rich natural history of Kansas has been preserved with 300 acres of native tall grass prairie, woodlands and creeks. The diverse biomes comprise virgin tallgrass prairie, reseeded tallgrass prairie, riparian woodlands, and wetland areas. The center is a suburban island that was farmed until 1968

Olathe, KS Nature Centers

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

Legler Barn Museum Complex

The LEGLER BARN MUSEUM houses the history of the city of Lenexa and the area. Built in 1864 by the early Lenexa resident Adam Legler, the Legler barn is one of the few stone barns still in existence in Kansas. It was originally situated on the Santa Fe Trail at the corner of 95

Lenexa, KS Museums

Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park

The Legler Barn Museum Complex is located in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. This 53 acre park features Rose'

Lenexa, KS Recreation

Explore Johnson County