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
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
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 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
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 1892Olathe, KS Museums
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 87Shawnee, KS Theatres
The Kansas State School for the Deaf is the oldest state educational institution in the State of Kansas. The School was founded by Philip A. Emery, a deaf man who had been a teacher at the Indiana School for the Deaf from 1854 to 1860Olathe, KS Museums