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
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
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
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
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
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 & 16Great Bend, KS Arts