Kearny County has a most interesting history which began long before most other western counties of Kansas, except those which, like it, were on the Santa Fe Trail. The Indians followed the Arkansas on hunting and other expeditions for countless years before the white men came.
For fifty years (1822-1872) from the time Becknell led the first caravan from Westport to Santa Fe, until completion of the Santa Fe railroad to Colorado in December, 1872, the trail through our county was used by ever increasing numbers. Scouts, trappers, hunters, traders, soldiers, adventurers, Spanish, French, Mexicans, Americans, men of high and low degree with their oxen and wagons made deep ruts across the county.
It is thought by some authorities that Coronado (1541), the first white man to visit Kansas, passed up the Arkansas River on his return trip when he failed to find the fabled cities of Cibola in the kingdom of Quivera.
Trappers were following the river as early as 1816, when Chouteau defended himself against a band of 200 Pawnee Indians on the island five miles west of Lakin, which bears his name.
Explore Kearny County
The Conestoga Wagons were used primarily to haul freight on the Santa Fe Trail and other freight trails. They could handle two tons of goods. The wagon in our displayed in the Museum Comples bears the inscription "Joseph Edgar - 1831". There is a series of 1939Lakin, KS Pioneer History
The Columbian Schoolhouse, built in 1893, was named after the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. Later shortened to Columbia, the school conducted its last class approximately 1945. This one room school was moved to the museum site from 15 miles north of Lakin and restored in 1984.Lakin, KS Historic Schoolhouses
Chouteau's Island was the largest island of timber on the Arkansas River in this area. In the spring of 1816, Auguste Pierre Chouteau was returning to Missouri with several other fur trappers when they were attacked by a large party of Pawnee Indians. Chouteau'Lakin, KS Pioneer History
Beymer Water Recreation Park offers a variety of activities for the outdoorsman. Swimmers may cool off at the designated swim beach, while picnickers enjoy a barbecue on the many tables and grills. A covered picnic shelter is available for large parties. Reservations may be made at the County Clerk\Lakin, KS Recreation
Lakin originated as one of the early stops on the Santa Fe Railroad from Dodge City to Colorado in 1872. This depot, constructed in 1876, replaced the original boxcar depot. The depot was moved to the museum site and restored in 1984. Mr. James Thomas, grandson of the O'Lakin, KS Railroad History
The O'Loughlin house was called, "The Little White House", as it was the largest building in the town and was the center for social gatherings, church services, meetings and housed visiting dignitaries. The White House is the oldest two-story house in Lakin. It was built in 1875Lakin, KS Museums