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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

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

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

Frisco Train Depot

The 1912-1913 Frisco Train Depot was relocated to the Legler Barn Museum Complex in 1987, from its long time home in old town Lenexa at the intersection of Santa Fe Trail Drive and Pflumm. The Depot features the exhibit By Way of Lenexa:

Lenexa, KS Railroad History

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

Prairie Wetland

The 55-acre KCPL Prairie Wetland includes 23.6

Gardner, KS Conservation Areas

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

Loomis Home

This home was built in 1882

Merriam, KS Historic Homes

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

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

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

Lanesfield School Historic Site

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Lanesfield School Historic Site is a tribute to rural schooling. It consists of a restored one-room schoolhouse, outbuildings and a visitor's center featuring an exhibit on Kansas'one-room schools called "Just Plain Simple:

Gardner, KS Historic Schoolhouses


Explore Johnson County