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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

Historic Dick Building and Ellinwood Museum

The Dick Building was built in 1887 and is listed on the Kansas State Historical Register. It was bought by Matt Dick in 1889

Ellinwood, KS Museums

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

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

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge

There are 650 bird species in the United States, 417 in Kansas, and 320 in Cheyenne Bottoms! Besides birds, there are 23 species of mammals 19 species of reptiles and nine species of amphibians.

Great Bend, KS Wildlife Refuges

Holiday Trail of Lights

Every year visitors from all over the Midwest hit the trail to Great Bend. Our holiday light displays are among the best in the nation. In fact, the trail is a recipient of the American Bus Association's Top 100 Events in North America for the year 2000

Great Bend, KS Tours

St. Joseph Catholic Church

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 $3,500

Ellinwood, KS Historic Churches


Crest Theatre

The Crest Theater, a former movie theater in downtown Great Bend, was renovated for use as a live performing arts facility. In addition to four community theater productions a year, the 618 seat theater'

Great Bend, KS Theatres

Wolf Pond

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

Ellinwood, KS Recreation

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

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

Knights of Pythias Hall - Historic Building

One of Pawnee Rock's oldest buildings is the former Knights of Pythias hall, which started out as an opera house and was one of the first buildings erected in Pawnee Rock after the railroad came through in 1872

Pawnee Rock, KS Historic Buildings

Explore Barton County