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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


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

Lone Elm Campground

Three miles south of Olathe on Lone Elm Road, on the main branch of the Santa Fe Trail, was the site of a spring (now enclosed in a small well)

Olathe, KS Landmarks

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


Whittaker Flower Farm

If You Love Flowers, You'll Love the Farm! Come to the Whittaker Flower Farm in Olathe, Kansas and you'll find a field of flowers...six acres, to be exact. Everything from old fashioned Zinnias to exotic Leonotis (Lion's Ear). Over 125

Olathe, KS Botanical Gardens

Santa Fe/Oregon Trail Junction

In a 1924 dedication of a State Historical Marker at the edge of Gardner, Senator Rolla W. Coleman called the place where the trails divide "the grand-daddy of all highway junctions." From its beginnings in 1857

Gardner, KS Landmarks

Loomis Home

This home was built in 1882

Merriam, KS Historic Homes

Buddy Rogers & Family's Playhouse

The Olathe Community Theatre Association presents six live theatrical productions a season, ranging from progressive, first-run fare to standard classics, including one musical and a children's theater production in June. Our building was established by the Covenant Church in 1870

Olathe, KS Theatres

Legler Barn Museum Complex

The LEGLER BARN MUSEUM houses the history of the city of Lenexa and the area. Built in 1864 by the early Lenexa resident Adam Legler, the Legler barn is one of the few stone barns still in existence in Kansas. It was originally situated on the Santa Fe Trail at the corner of 95

Lenexa, KS Museums

Old Town Lenexa

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

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

Explore Johnson County