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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

Lone Elm Campground

Three miles south of Olathe on Lone Elm Road, on the main branch of the Santa Fe Trail, was the site of a spring (now enclosed in a small well)

Olathe, KS Landmarks

NASCART Indoor Racing

At NASCART indoor racing, you are behind the wheel of high performance karts! Since opening our facility in 2002

Olathe, KS Sports

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

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

New Theatre Restaurant

New Theatre Restaurant, Celebrating 30 years of Dining and Entertainment reflect years of historical background, spirit, and artistry of its predecessor theatres Tiffany's Attic Dinner Playhouse and Waldo Astoria. Experience 5

Overland Park, KS Theatres

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

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

At the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead visitors enjoy feeding farm animals, taking a hayride on a horse-drawn wagon, fishing in the pond and walking through a replica of an early 1900s farmhouse. If you are a gardening enthusiast, don't miss the Johnson County Master Gardener exhibit.

Overland Park, KS Zoos

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

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

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

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

Explore Johnson County