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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

Catch the Maze Craze

You can grow it, shuck it, pop it, cook it and increasingly over the last few years even play in it. With more than 3,500 reported uses, corn may just be the world'

Overland Park, KS Corn Mazes

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

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

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

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

Shawnee Town 1929

Shawnee Town 1929 is a living history museum that tells the story of life in a small farm town that was Shawnee in the 1920s. From March through October visitors can stroll through buildings and grounds featuring a farmstead, barber shop, typewriter repair shop, grocery store and funeral home &

Shawnee, KS Museums

Harkey House

The Harkey House was built in 1902 and was the former home and practice of frontier doctor, Dr. William C. Harkey. Listed on the State Register of Historic Places, the house was restored in the 1980

Gardner, KS Historic Homes

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

Turner Barn

Gardner's Turner Barn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1898 for W.T. Turner by Arthur J. Clinton of Spring Hill, Kansas. Clinton's trademark on the many barns he built was the "double-diamond"

Gardner, KS Historic Barns

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


Merriam Historic Plaza

Merriam Historic Plaza & Visitors Bureau is located along I-35 at Exit 228B in Merriam. This site enhances the entrance to Merriam and provides visitors and residents with an outdoor preview of Merriam’

Merriam, KS Visitors Centers

Explore Johnson County