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
J.B. Mahaffie purchased a 160-acre tract of ground 1-mile north of the town of Olathe, Kansas along the Santa Fe Trail in 1857. In 1863, J.B. and his wife, Lucinda Mahaffie, contracted to run a stagecoach stop. Serving meals in their cellar, the Mahaffies operated their business until around 1870Olathe, KS Museums
Esther Brown Memorial Park was developed in memory of Esther E. Brown, a local resident who organized citizen support in the South Park area for litigation leading to the 1949 Webb vs. School District #90 case and ultimately the Kansas Supreme Court'Merriam, KS Historical Markers
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