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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

Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm

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 1870

Olathe, KS Museums

Esther Brown Memorial Park - South Park Area

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

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

Antioch Pioneer Cemetery

Antioch Pioneer Cemetery is the resting place of some of the Quakers who were associated with the Mission. The Cemetery dates back to before 1850 and a replica of the original church (Antioch Cumberland Presbyterian, formed in 1850)

Merriam, KS Cemeteries

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

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

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

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

Ernie Miller Nature Center & Park

Enjoy this 113-acre park with three hiking trails, an education center, and an outdoor amphitheater where you can observe owls, hawks, and an indoor/outdoor beehive.

Olathe, KS Nature Centers

Overland Park Golf Club

One of the most popular and best maintained courses in the area, Overland Park Golf Club has 27 regulation golf holes, configured as three 18-hole courses, South, North and West, along with a challenging 9-hole Par-3.

Overland Park, KS Golf Courses

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

Gardner Historical Museum

The Herman B. Foster house was built in the Spring of 1893. A classic example of Folk Victorian architecture, the house was the residence of one of Gardner's early storekeepers, a partner in the Bigelow-Foster Mercantile Company. In 1902

Gardner, KS Museums

Explore Johnson County