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

Old Town Lenexa

This is the site of the old town, as it appears today, where the Santa Fe Trail passed through Lenexa. The buildings still stand as a reminder of the beginning, the coming of the railroad, and the establishment of commerce that has brought prosperity to the descendants of these pioneers.

Lenexa, KS Historic Downtowns

Historic Lackman-Thompson Estate

The promise of opportunity and freedom brought many brave individuals to American shores in the late 1800s, including German immigrants, Margaretha and William Lackman. Their hope: to build the home ... the fortune ... the future of their dreams in a new and exciting land.

Lenexa, KS Historic Homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buddy Rogers & Family's Playhouse

The Olathe Community Theatre Association presents six live theatrical productions a season, ranging from progressive, first-run fare to standard classics, including one musical and a children's theater production in June. Our building was established by the Covenant Church in 1870

Olathe, KS Theatres

Explore Johnson County