Kansas, state in the western part of the central United States. Kansas is usually designated as a Midwestern state. However, it is commonly referred to as a plains state, and sections are often considered part of the Southwest or West. Such variations in terminology reflect the fact that Kansas does not belong wholly to one region and is an area of diversified relief, climate, economy, and patterns of settlement. The landscape of the east, with its hills, woodlands, grain-and-livestock farms, and comparatively large cities, contrasts sharply with the dry treeless plains and vast wheat farms of the sparsely populated west. In addition, the High Plains of the west include areas of canyon country and sand dunes reminiscent of New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest, while the rolling grasslands of the Flint and Smoky hills, in central Kansas, resemble the rangelands of the West. Kansas entered the Union on January 29, 1861, as the 34th state. Topeka is the capital of Kansas. Wichita is the largest city.
Kansas, which has been called the Wheat State and the Breadbasket of the Nation, leads all other states in production of wheat. However, wheat dominates neither the landscape nor the economy of Kansas. The sale of livestock, especially beef cattle, provides a larger percentage of annual farm income than the sale of wheat. Moreover, manufacturing and service industries are far more valuable to the state’s economy than agriculture.
The state is named for the Kansas River, which, in turn, was named for the Kansa people, who once inhabited northeastern Kansas. The word Kansas means “people of the south wind.” The nickname preferred by most Kansans is the Sunflower State. The helianthus, or native wild sunflower, grows profusely throughout Kansas and is the official state flower. Kansas is also referred to as the Jayhawk or Jayhawker state. The origin and meaning of the term “Jayhawker” are disputed. In Kansas it was used at the beginning of the American Civil War (1861-1865) to refer to the bands of guerrillas and irregular troops that were active along the Kansas-Missouri border. The name was taken up by some regular troops in Kansas. Eventually it became a nickname for all Kansans.
Until Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959, the geographical center of the United States was located near Lebanon in Kansas. Although the center subsequently shifted to North Dakota, Kansas is still recognized as the site of the geographical center of the coterminous United States, that is, of all the states except Alaska and Hawaii. The geodetic center (which takes into account the curvature of the earth’s surface) of the United States is located at Meades Ranch Triangulation Station in Osborne County in north central Kansas. The station serves as the basic reference point for all government mapping undertaken in the United States (except in Hawaii), Canada, and Mexico. Selected in 1901, it has also served as the geodetic center of North America since 1913.
Kansas ranks 15th among the states in size. It has a total area of 213,096 sq km (82,277 sq mi), including 1,197 sq km (462 sq mi) of inland water. The state is rectangular in shape, except for a small section in the northeast where it is bounded by the Missouri River. It measures 661 km (411 mi) from east to west and 335 km (208 mi) from north to south.
The surface of Kansas can, in a very broad sense, be described as a plain. However, it is neither entirely flat nor entirely level, and minor variations in relief are conspicuous. The state’s surface elevation increases gradually from east to west, rising from a minimum elevation of 207 m (679 ft) above sea level in the Verdigris River valley to 1,231 m (4,039 ft) at Mount Sunflower, the highest point in the state. The approximate mean elevation is 610 m (2,000 ft). Hills, ridges, and wooded river valleys abound in eastern and central Kansas. Farther west they give way to the flatter, generally treeless High Plains, which are frequently but inaccurately thought of as characteristic of the entire state.
Kansas includes parts of two physiographic provinces, or natural regions, of the United States, the Central Lowland and the Great Plains. Together these two natural regions constitute part of the major physiographic division of North America known as the Interior Plains. In addition, a small area in extreme southeastern Kansas is part of the Ozark Plateau physiographic province.
The Central Lowland covers the eastern third of the state. It can be divided into two sections, the Dissected Till Plains and the Osage Plains. The Dissected Till Plains occupy the northeastern corner of the state. This section differs in appearance from the rest of the Central Lowland in Kansas. The only part of the state that was glaciated during the Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, it exhibits the gently rolling hills, broad shallow valleys, boulder-strewn plains, and other landforms characteristic of glaciated plains. It more closely resembles the typical prairie areas of Iowa and other Midwestern states than do the other sections of Kansas. The Osage Plains section is an area of varied relief, with flat or gently rolling plains broken by a series of low, linear ridges that trend north-south. The most prominent of these ridges are the Flint Hills, which lie just east of the 97th meridian and extend from the Kansas River southward into Oklahoma. The Flint Hills, which rise more than 120 m (400 ft) above the surrounding plains, are composed primarily of limestone but derive their name from a form of chert commonly called flint that is scattered over their surface.
The Great Plains cover the central and western portions of the state. This region can be divided into two sections, the Plains Border and the High Plains. The Plains Border, which forms a transitional zone between the Central Lowland and the High Plains, includes several broad belts of hills. North of the Arkansas River they include the Smoky Hills and the Blue Hills. South of the river, in the great loop between Wichita and Dodge City, lies a broad plains area that forms, in effect, an eastward extension of the High Plains. Much of this region is quite sandy. The sand plain is bounded on the south by the Gypsum Hills, or Cimarron Breaks, a scenic area of mesas and buttes that are composed of red shale capped with gypsum. The High Plains section is a dry, gently rolling tableland. Some of the section’s most prominent physical features are found where the rivers, especially those of the northwest, have cut valleys well below the general surface, creating steep-sided bluffs. Throughout the High Plains section are numerous shallow saucerlike depressions. Some of these are products of wind erosion. Others have been formed by the sinking of the land, which has been caused by the action of underground water on soluble rocks.
A number of unusual geologic formations in Kansas occur on the Great Plains, an area that is also noted for its abundant fossils. In Gove County, Monument Rocks, also called the Kansas Pyramids, rise abruptly above the valley of the Smoky Hill River. Sculpted by wind and water, they represent the remnants of shale and chalk that, eons ago, covered what is now the Smoky Hill Valley. Castle Rock, in Gove County east of the Monument Rocks, is the most prominent of these formations, standing 21 m (70 ft) high. About 30 km (about 20 mi) north of Salina lies Rock City, an area of more than 200 eroded sandstone concretions that resemble huge eggs.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
Kansas lies within the drainage basin of the Mississippi-Missouri river system. The chief streams in the state are the Kansas River (sometimes called the Kaw) which is a tributary of the Missouri River, and the Arkansas River, which is a major tributary of the Mississippi.
The Kansas River, together with its headstreams and tributaries, drains most of the northern half of the state and flows generally eastward to enter the Missouri River at the adjoining cities of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. Its chief headstreams are the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, which join to form the Kansas River at Junction City. Each of the headstreams has numerous tributaries. The Kansas River proper is only 270 km (170 mi) long, but the Smoky Hill River has a length of 870 km (540 mi), and the Republican River has a length of 720 km (450 mi). The main tributary flowing into the Kansas River is the Big Blue River.
The Arkansas River, which rises in Colorado, flows generally eastward and then southward across the southern half of Kansas. Between Dodge City and Wichita the river curves northward in a wide loop, which is known as the Great Bend of the Arkansas River. A small section of the Cimarron River, a major tributary of the Arkansas, arcs through the southwestern corner of the state. Southeastern Kansas is drained mainly by the Verdigris and Neosho, which flow southward to join the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.
There are no large natural lakes in Kansas. The largest bodies of water have been created by the damming of rivers. The largest is Tuttle Creek Lake, a long winding reservoir behind Tuttle Creek Dam on the Big Blue River. Other major bodies of water include Cedar Bluff and Kanopolis on the Smoky Hill River; Milford on the Republican; Lovewell on White Rock Creek and Keith Sebelius on Prairie Dog Creek, both tributaries of the Republican; Wilson on the Saline River; Cheney on the North Fork of the Ninnescah; John Redmond and Council Grove on the Neosho; Toronto on the Verdigris; Waconda on the Solomon, and Webster and Kirwin on the forks of the Solomon; Perry on the Delaware; Clinton on the Wakarusa; Marion on the Cottonwood; Pomona, Melvern, and Hillsdale on the Marais des Cygnes system; and Fall River Lake, a reservoir on the river of that name.
The climate of Kansas is warm to hot during summer and cool to cold in winter. Although there is a large difference between summer and winter temperatures, during each season of the year temperatures do not vary greatly from place to place. In winter the prevailing winds are from the north. In summer they are from the south or southwest.
Average January temperatures range from about 1° C (about 34° F) in the southeastern part of the state to between -3° and -2° C (26° and 28° F) in northern Kansas. The average January temperature at Topeka is about -2° C (about 28° F). Throughout the state, daytime lows in the lower -20°s C (below 0° F) sometimes occur in winter, and lows of -34° C (-30° F), although infrequent, have been recorded.
Average July temperatures range from below 24° C (76° F) in northwestern Kansas to above 27° C (80° F) in sections of central and southern Kansas. The average July temperature at Topeka is about 26° C (about 78° F). Throughout the state, daytime highs are often in the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F), and extreme summer temperatures in the lower 40°s C (upper 100°s F) have been recorded in most areas.
Precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) diminishes from east to west, ranging from between 860 and 1,020 mm (34 and 40 in) in the east to between 410 and 510 mm (16 and 20 in) in the west. The eastern third of Kansas, the wettest part of the state, usually receives more than 760 mm (30 in) of precipitation. However, precipitation is extremely variable from year to year and, to a lesser extent, from place to place. In each decade, cycles of comparatively wet years alternate with cycles of dry years. In dry years drought conditions vary in severity and extent, but they are more common in the western part of the state than elsewhere. During the most severe droughts the combination of hot rainless days and high winds create dust-bowl conditions in western Kansas and in other parts of the Great Plains.
Most of the annual precipitation in Kansas falls as rain, occurring mainly during the period from April through August, when it is most needed for growing crops. However, it is often in the form of heavy thundershowers or hailstorms, which can damage crops. In winter, precipitation is generally light and usually in the form of snow. Blizzard conditions occur when the snow is accompanied by strong winds. Tornadoes, which are violent windstorms, occur with some regularity in Kansas, usually in the spring.
The growing season, or period between the last killing frost in the spring and the first killing frost in the fall, ranges from about 160 days in the northwest to more than 190 days in the south and southeast. In the spring the last killing frost usually occurs in the first two weeks of April in the southeast and in the last week of April in the northwest. The fall killing frost usually occurs in the first week of October in the northwest and in middle or late October in the southeast.
Almost all of the soils in Kansas are called mollisols. They generally are fertile, but their productivity varies considerably, usually in proportion to the amount of water they receive.
Udolls, one type of mollisol, cover large areas of eastern Kansas, which is the wettest part of the state. In these areas, especially in the Dissected Till Plains section, field crops are raised on the deep productive loams. In the Flint Hills section, however, fragments of flint in the soil make cultivation difficult. Much of this area is better utilized as grazing land. The dark-brown udolls of the Osage Plains in southeastern Kansas often contain a faint reddish tint caused by oxidized iron. Relatively high precipitation in this area has leached more plant nutrients from these soils than is the case elsewhere in the state. This leaching must be counteracted by fertilizer if farmers hope to produce good crops.
A second type of mollisol, called ustoll, is characteristic of Kansas west of the Flint Hills. These, too, are fertile soils. Ustolls are slightly lighter in color than the udolls and contain more carbonate. These loams are well suited for the cultivation of wheat and are highly productive in years of adequate precipitation.
In extreme western Kansas the ustolls become lighter still in color and contain even more carbonate. These soils, which cover the driest areas of the state, are not usually highly productive. In times of drought they have been subject to wind erosion and the consequent loss of topsoil.
Forests in Kansas cover only 3 percent of the state. Much of the woodland is found along river and stream valleys, and tree growth is heaviest in the eastern part of the state. In addition, trees have been planted throughout the state as windbreaks.
Among the most common trees of eastern Kansas are the cottonwood, which is the state tree, species of oak, hickory, and elm, and black walnut, sycamore, box elder, green ash, and hackberry. Cottonwood, willow, and red cedar are the principal trees in western Kansas. The Osage orange is found in hedgerows in some areas of the state. The red cedar is the only conifer native to Kansas.
Before the middle of the 19th century grasslands covered most of Kansas. In the tallgrass prairie grasslands of the east the most common grasses were big bluestem, little bluestem, switchgrass, and Indian grass. In the dry shortgrass prairie of the west grew buffalo grass, blue grama, and little bluestem. Central Kansas was a transitional zone where tall and short grasses were mixed. During the second half of the 19th century much of the state’s vast grassland area was ploughed over as cultivation was extended throughout the state. The largest remnant is in the Flint Hills.
Kansas still has a great variety and abundance of wildflowers. The helianthus, or wild native sunflower, is the state flower. Other common wild flowers include the aster, prairie phlox, goldenrod, gayfeather, primrose, verbena, daisy, clover, and thistle. Tumbleweed, a characteristic plant of the High Plains, occurs in western Kansas, and the prickly pear and yucca are most abundant in the driest parts of the area.
More than 1,800 species of flowering plants, conifers, and ferns occur in Kansas. Nearly 500 species have been introduced from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.
In the mid-19th century, Kansas still had varied and abundant wildlife, including numerous large game animals. Huge herds of American bison, commonly called buffalo, roamed the open plains. There were also whitetailed deer, elk (or wapiti), and antelope, and wild horses that were descendants of stock brought to America by early Spanish explorers. In the woodlands of the east were black bears, cougars, gray wolves, and other, smaller mammals. By the end of the 19th century, indiscriminate hunting and changes in the natural habitat had resulted in the near extinction of all the large mammals except for deer. Today, small herds of buffalo and elk are preserved in wildlife management areas and private ranches. Small mammals include the coyote, red fox, badger, blacktailed prairie dog, weasel, woodchuck, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk, fox squirrel, jack rabbit, and cottontail.
Many species of birds, including resident and migrant species, are found in Kansas. Year-round residents include the cardinal, robin, bluejay, Carolina wren, several species of woodpecker, eastern meadowlark, and western meadowlark, which is the official state bird. Among the summer residents are the barn swallow, ruby-throated hummingbird, catbird, and brown thrasher. Winter residents include the longspur, slate-colored junco, and tree sparrow. Among the many migrant birds that pass through the state are several species of hawks, warblers, sparrows, and waterbirds. Bald eagles are recovering in numbers in the state. The most common game birds, which include resident and migrant species, are the ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite, wild turkey, prairie chicken, mallard, and canvasback.
There are numerous reptiles, especially in the dry western sections. Poisonous snakes include the copperhead and three species of rattlesnake. Among the nonpoisonous snakes are the coachwhip snake, the blue racer, the bull snake, and the prairie king snake. Lizards common in the state include the horned toad, the six-lined racerunner, and several species of skink. Fish in the rivers and lakes of Kansas include several varieties of catfish, and the crappie, carp, walleye, black bass, and bluegill.
The three major conservation goals in Kansas are soil conservation, flood control, and protection of the state’s native plant and animal life. Federal agencies active in conservation include the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forestry Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. State agencies involved in conservation include a forestry, fish and game commission, a water resources board, a conservation commission, and a park and resources authority.
Soil erosion has damaged extensive areas of farmland in Kansas. The most severe damage has occurred in the central and western parts of the state, where in some places as much as 75 percent of the topsoil has been stripped off by erosion. Much of the damage occurred during the prolonged drought of the 1930s, the notorious Dust Bowl years on the Great Plains. During those years, wheatlands left fallow and over-grazed grasslands with little grass cover were exposed to the forces of erosion. High winds picked up the loose topsoil and carried it away in great swirling dust storms. Since the 1930s the widespread adoption of improved farming techniques has helped prevent further serious soil losses. Wind and water erosion have been reduced by terracing and the planting of wind barriers. Farm ponds help to control water runoff.
The statewide soil conservation programs have also helped to reduce springtime flooding caused by runoff. However, the principal flood-control programs are those regulating the flow of water in the rivers of the state. The programs are integrated with those of adjoining states and are often part of multiple-purpose projects that include provisions for flood control, irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation. The largest of these federally organized projects is the Missouri River Basin Project, which includes flood-control dams and storage reservoirs on the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers as well as on some of their tributaries.
A major environmental problem is runoff from agricultural land, which is carrying agricultural chemicals into drinking water. In 2006 the state had 10 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Between 1995 and 2000, the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment remained stable, changing by less than half a percent.
Kansas remained a homeland for Native Americans until the 1850s, although many thousands of European-American migrants passed through the region on overland routes to the West and Southwest. After the Kansas region was opened to non-Native American settlement in 1854, farming and commerce developed as the chief economic activities. Beginning in the following decade, railroads brought hordes of land-hungry settlers to the state and established depots that became the famous cow towns on the Chisholm Trail and other cattle trails from Texas. By the end of the 19th century, Kansas was a cattle producer in its own right and an important wheat-growing state. Agriculture, with an emphasis on wheat production, remained the principal economic activity until the 1940s. Mining developed as a major activity during the early decades of the 20th century, but manufacturing remained in large part concentrated on the processing of agricultural products. In the 1940s, spurred by the demands of World War II (1939-1945) and a government decision to place war industries away from coastal areas, the state’s industrial plants greatly increased in number and productivity. Transportation equipment became the state’s most valuable manufactured product. By the mid-1950s, manufacturing had joined agriculture to become one of the two leading economic activities in Kansas. In the mid-1990s manufacturing contributed four times the value to the gross state product as did agriculture.
There were 1,466,000 workers in Kansas in 2006. The largest share of them, 35 percent, were in services such as hospitals and restaurants. Another 19 percent were in wholesale or retail trade; 19 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 13 percent in manufacturing; 4 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; 16 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 19 percent in transportation or public utilities; 5 percent in construction; and 0.7 percent in mining. In 2005, 7 percent of the workers in Kansas were members of a labor union.
In 2005 there were 64,500 farms in Kansas. A fairly large share of the farms compared to other states, 57 percent, had annual sales of more than $10,000. Farmland occupied 19.1 million hectares (47.2 million acres), of which 63 percent was cropland. The rest was mostly rangeland and pastureland. Some 9 percent of the cropland was irrigated.
The sale of livestock and livestock products was the largest source of income for Kansas farmers in 2004, accounting for 68 percent of total farm income. The sale of cattle and calves accounted for the largest share of farm income from livestock products. Although 63 percent of farmland is under cultivation, crops accounted for only 32 percent of farm income. Wheat sales contributed the largest share of income from crops.
Kansas ranks first among the states in wheat production and usually accounts for about one-fifth of the annual U.S. wheat harvest. Wheat is grown throughout Kansas, but most of it is in the western and central portions of the state. These areas of Kansas form the heart of the Winter Wheat Belt, one of the two major wheat-growing regions in the United States. In this region, wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. Crop yields fluctuate, especially in western Kansas, where the amount of rainfall, never very great, varies considerably from year to year. Many farmers plant their fields every other year, so that the land can store up enough soil moisture in the year it lies fallow to produce a good crop the following year. In small areas of the extreme western section of the state some wheat is grown under irrigation.
Kansas is the leading producer of sorghum grain in the United States. Sorghum, the third most valuable crop in Kansas, is grown throughout the state and is used mainly for feeding livestock. Other crops used primarily as livestock feed are corn, the state’s second most valuable crop, which is grown in eastern, northern, and western Kansas; soybeans, which are raised in the east; and hay, including alfalfa and wild hay, which are gathered in central and eastern Kansas. Greenhouse and nursery products, vegetables, and fruits and nuts are minor sources of farm income.
Livestock production in Kansas is based largely on the availability of natural grass pastures and rangeland and feed crops. Beef cattle are raised throughout the state, but beef-cattle production is concentrated in the Flint Hills, in the Smoky Hills, and other hilly grassland areas in the Plains Border and Osage Plains sections. The bluestem grasses of the Flint Hills provide excellent grazing lands. Beef cattle, including both local herds and cattle shipped in from other states, are grazed in the Flint Hills throughout the year. The cattle are then either sent directly to market or are fattened further on grain in the Flint Hills area, in the irrigated areas of western Kansas, or elsewhere. Hogs, as well as beef cattle, are raised in northeastern Kansas. Dairy cattle and poultry are raised in the eastern part of the state, especially in the vicinity of the larger cities. Sheep are also raised, primarily in central and southwestern Kansas, on grazing lands and in feedlots.
|A3||Patterns of Farming|
Operators of the farms in Kansas use machinery to cultivate extensive areas without the need for a large labor force. The average Kansas farm covered 296 hectares (732 acres) in 2005. In the wheatlands of the High Plains, farms of more than 400 hectares (1,000 acres) are common. Farms in the northeast average between 80 and 120 hectares (200 and 300 acres).
Farming practices in the Dissected Till Plains section of northeastern Kansas are similar to those of other areas within the great Corn Belt in the Middle West. Cattle and hogs are the principal source of income, and corn and other field crops are raised both for livestock feed and for sale as cash crops. This pattern is also prevalent in the eastern part of the Osage Plains section. However, the land in this area is not as productive. The raising of livestock predominates in the Flint Hills, although there is also some cropland in the area on which wheat, corn, and alfalfa are grown. On the Great Plains, in central and western Kansas, wheat is the dominant dryland crop. Sorghum and cattle also are important. The widespread adoption of irrigation in far western Kansas, using water pumped from underground from the High Plains Aquifer, has altered the traditional mixture of crops there radically since the early 1970s. Corn and alfalfa are the major crops irrigated. More corn is now grown in western Kansas than in the east.
Natural gas is the most valuable product of the Kansas mining industry, accounting for one-half of its income. Oil is second in value of production. Other minerals adding to the economy include stone, salt, and helium. Production of petroleum has fallen in recent years because the principal fields have been in production for more than one-half century. The value of oil produced in the early 1990s was less than one-half that of the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, during the same period, the value of natural gas produced nearly doubled.
The major oil-producing areas are located in central Kansas, in Ellis, Barton, Russell, and Butler counties. However, oil is also produced in small quantities throughout much of the state. Most of the state’s natural gas comes from the immense Hugoton field, which underlies several counties in southwestern Kansas and extends into Oklahoma and Texas.
Helium is extracted from helium-bearing natural gas at plants in Rice, Haskell, Grant, Scott, Seward, Morton, and Rush counties. Much of this nonflammable gas is shipped directly by pipeline to the Cliffside Gas Field, a government helium storage facility near Amarillo, Texas.
Coal occurs in fairly thick beds in eastern Kansas. Although coal production has declined considerably since the beginning of the 20th century, the state’s total reserves remain quite large. Lead and zinc ores were mined in the southeast from 1877 to 1970.
Stone, mainly limestone, is quarried in nearly half of all the counties in Kansas. Salt is produced from underground mines in Rice, Reno, Barton, Ellsworth, and Sedgwick counties in central Kansas. One section of a large salt mine in Reno County has been converted into a records-storage facility for government agencies and industrial firms. Sand-and-gravel production is widespread in Kansas. Much of it is used, together with stone and gypsum, as raw material in making cement and concrete.
The production of transportation equipment, primarily aircraft and aircraft parts, is the leading manufacturing activity in Kansas. In the late 1990s it accounted for one-fifth of the state’s income from all manufacturing activities. Moreover, the transportation industry employs more workers, and has larger payrolls, than any other industry in the state. Printing and publishing is the second leading industry, followed by food processing. Other important industries are the manufacture of chemicals; industrial machinery; rubber and plastic products; electrical equipment; fabricated metal components; stone, clay, and glass products; and paper products. Wichita and Kansas City are the chief manufacturing centers.
The production of aircraft and aircraft parts, for both civilian and military use, is concentrated in the Wichita area. Airplane plants in this area include those of two of the world’s leading manufacturers of light aircraft. Aircraft parts are also made at Salina, Wellington, and Winfield. Locomotive parts and other types of railroad equipment are manufactured at Wichita, Atchison, and other centers. There are major railroad repair shops at Wichita, Kansas City, and Topeka. The assembly of automobiles is carried on in Kansas City. Closely associated with the transportation industry is the manufacture of rubber tires, especially in the Topeka area.
Food processing is carried on throughout the state. Two of the most important food-processing activities, based on the state’s chief agricultural products, are meat packing and flour milling. The chief flour-milling centers are Hutchinson, Atchison, Abilene, Salina, Kansas City, Wichita, and Topeka. Meat-packing, formerly concentrated in Kansas City, is now found principally in the southwestern section of the state.
The manufacture of chemicals and chemical products and of oil and coal products is based on the state’s output of minerals, particularly oil. The state’s oil-refining centers include El Dorado, Coffeyville, McPherson, Wichita, Arkansas City, and Augusta.
Of the electricity generated in Kansas in 2005, 80 percent was produced in steam-driven power plants burning fossil fuels. Some 19 percent was produced in a nuclear power plant. Much of the electricity is provided by privately owned utilities. Coal is the principal fuel burned in the power plants. Natural gas and, to a much lesser extent, oil are also used as fuels in producing electricity in urban centers. The state’s only nuclear power plant, located near Burlington, went into commercial operation in 1985.
During the 19th century, two of the most famous overland routes in U.S. history, the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail, extended across parts of the Kansas region. Railroads and settlements first became a permanent feature of the Kansas landscape in the second half of the 19th century. This period also included the relatively brief era of the great cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail and other trails to railroad shipping centers in Kansas. Railroads remained the dominant form of transportation in Kansas until the 20th century. At that time automobiles and trucks came into increasingly widespread use, challenging the railroads’ long-held supremacy. Many of the railroad lines and highways across Kansas form sections of major transcontinental and regional routes. The transportation network in Kansas is as important to the nation as it is to the state.
In 2005 Kansas had 218,005 km (135,462 mi) of public highways, roads, and streets, a greater mileage than that of all other states except Texas, California, and Illinois. The road network consists of modern highways superimposed on an older grid pattern in which roads tend to follow the section lines drawn when the land was first surveyed. There were 1,407 km (874 mi) of interstate highways, including the Kansas Turnpike, a toll road.
Kansas is served by 7,944 km (4,936 mi) of railroad trackage, much of it operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and by the Union Pacific Railroad. A number of other important lines serve the state. Greater Kansas City, which includes both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, is one of the principal rail centers in the Middle West. Farm products made up 47 percent of the goods originating in the state and shipped by rail.
The state’s only navigable waterways are the Missouri River, along the Kansas-Missouri state line, and a few miles of the lower course of the Kansas River. Barge traffic plies the Missouri, and the chief ports on the Kansas side of the river are Atchison, Leavenworth, and Kansas City.
Kansas has 10 airports and airfields. Most of them are small airfields that handle private aircraft and local commercial flights. Airports at the largest cities in the state are scheduled airline stops on routes that serve the Middle West and Southwest.
Pipelines are an important part of the transportation facilities serving Kansas. Vast quantities of crude oil, oil products, and natural gas are carried by pipelines to communities and industrial centers throughout Kansas.
Wholesale and retail trade is concentrated in the largest cities of the state, Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, Salina, and Hutchinson, all of which lie in central or eastern Kansas. There are no very large trade centers in western Kansas, although Garden City, Dodge City, and Liberal are of local and regional commercial importance. Many retail trade centers in Kansas are serviced by wholesale companies located in adjoining states such as Kansas City in Missouri, Denver in Colorado, and Oklahoma City in Oklahoma.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF KANSAS|
According to the 2000 census, Kansas ranked 32nd among the states, with a population of 2,688,418. This represented an increase of 8.5 percent over the 1990 census.
The pattern of increasing urban population and decreasing rural population, begun in the 19th century, continued into the 21st century. In 1950 the population of Kansas was still half rural. In 2000 some 71 percent of the state’s people lived in urban areas. In 2006 Kansas had an average population density of 13 persons per sq km (34 per sq mi). Eastern Kansas is much more densely populated than western Kansas.
In 2000 whites made up 86.1 percent of the population, blacks 5.7 percent, Asians 1.7 percent, Native Americans 0.9 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 5.5 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 1,313. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 7 percent of the people. Although a few black people in Kansas live in rural areas, the majority live in the Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City metropolitan areas.
Germans, Swedes, and other groups from western Europe were important components of the early settlement of Kansas. Mexicans, Croatians, and Italians came shortly after 1900. In more recent decades, however, foreign-born residents have not been numerous. They numbered 2.5 percent of the state’s total population in 1990.
The largest cities are located in central or eastern Kansas. The largest of them, Wichita, had an estimated 2006 population of 357,698. The Wichita metropolitan area had 592,126 residents. Wichita is one of the two leading manufacturing cities in Kansas and is a major trade center. It is noted as one of the chief centers of the aircraft-manufacturing industry. Kansas City had 144,210 inhabitants. Together with Kansas City, Missouri, it forms the hub of the metropolitan area known as Greater Kansas City, which had a total 2006 population of 1,967,405 people. Kansas City, Kansas, is the major center for health services in the state and maintains a long-standing reputation as a manufacturing city. The Fairfax district there, begun in 1938, is nationally famous as one of the oldest and most successful examples of what have come to be known as industrial parks. Soap, fiberglass insulation, chemicals, food products, automobiles, and metal goods are manufactured. It is also one of the state’s principal trade and transportation centers. Overland Park had a population of 166,722 in 2006. The city lies in northeastern Kansas and is a residential suburb of Kansas City.
Topeka had a population of 122,113 in 2006. The city serves as the state capital. In addition it is a center for flour milling, meatpacking, printing and publishing, and the repairing of railroad equipment. In Topeka is the famous Menninger Foundation, an organization engaged in psychiatric research and treatment. The Topeka metropolitan area had 228,894 inhabitants. Lawrence, with a population of 88,605, is a trade center and the site of the University of Kansas and the Haskell Indian Nations University (1884). Also in the Kansas City metropolitan area is Olathe, with 114,662 residents. Salina, with a 2006 population of 46,140, is a leading trade center for the central and western parts of Kansas and is one of the state’s chief grain-storage and flour-milling centers.
Other cities in central and eastern Kansas include Hutchinson, noted for its grain-storing and grain-shipping facilities; Manhattan, the seat of Kansas State University; Leavenworth, a commercial center and the site of a large federal penitentiary and a major military post; Emporia, the site of a state university and the home of the famous journalist and author William Allen White; Pittsburg, the site of another state university and a manufacturing and coal-shipping city; Atchison, an early river port and outfitting center, now a manufacturing center; and Abilene, once a famous cow town of the cattle trail days and the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The small cities in southwestern Kansas serve primarily as meatpacking centers and focal points for local retail trade. They include Garden City; Dodge City, which was one of the most famous towns of the old West; and Liberal. Hays, in west central Kansas, has a state university.
During the early part of the 19th century, missionaries from a number of different Christian denominations were sent to Kansas to convert Native Americans to Christianity and to educate them. In 1824 Presbyterians and members of associated denominations established the first mission, among Native Americans living in what is now Neosho County. Shawnee Methodist Mission, near Kansas City, was founded in 1830. It later became a manual training school for Native American children. Other missions were opened in the 1830s by Baptists, Quakers, and Roman Catholics.
Plymouth Congregational Church, the first church established after the Kansas Territory was opened to white settlement, was organized in Lawrence in 1854. During the 1850s, when proslavery and antislavery factions vied for control of the Kansas Territory, many church-sponsored antislavery groups from the North ventured to Kansas. Chief among the abolitionist societies was the Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony, which founded a settlement in Wabaunsee County. In the 1870s a number of Mennonites migrated to the state from southern Russia.
The largest religious groups in Kansas are the Roman Catholics and Methodists. Each has about an equal number of adherents.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
In the 1820s and 1830s, missionaries established the first schools in Kansas to instruct Native Americans in reading, writing, and Christianity. In 1855 the first territorial legislature passed laws providing for free public schools for the children of white settlers. Equal educational opportunities for all, regardless of sex or race, were guaranteed in the state constitution that was drawn up in 1859. Public education in Kansas was almost entirely supported by local taxes until 1937, when annual state appropriations were authorized for needy elementary schools. A system of state aid to all elementary and secondary schools, regardless of need, is now in effect.
School attendance was first made compulsory in 1874 and is now required for all children in Kansas from the ages of 7 to 18. Some 9 percent of elementary and high school students in the state attend private or parochial institutions. Haskell Indian Nations University, founded in Lawrence in 1884, is maintained as a school for Native American students.
In the 2002–2003 school year Kansas spent $8,268 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 14.4 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9). Of those age 25 or older, 88.5 percent had a high school diploma, compared to an average for the United States of 84.1 percent.
Private colleges and universities were established in Kansas before the territory became a state. Two of these, Baker University, founded in 1858, and Benedictine College (formerly called Saint Benedict’s College), opened in 1859, are still in existence today. Other private institutions of higher education include Southwestern College, in Winfield; Friends University, in Wichita; Bethel College, in North Newton; Bethany College, in Lindsborg; McPherson College, in McPherson; and Ottawa University, in Ottawa.
Provision for state institutions of higher education was made in the state constitution of 1859. As a result, the University of Kansas was established at Lawrence, with classes beginning in 1866. This school has the largest enrollment of any university in the state. Kansas State University, a state-supported school in Manhattan, was established in 1863 as Kansas State Agricultural College. Other state-operated institutions include Wichita State University, which was known as the University of Wichita until 1964, and colleges that were founded for the training of teachers in Emporia, Hays, and Pittsburg. Among the municipally operated schools of higher education are Washburn University of Topeka and a number of junior colleges. Also in the state is the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, in Fort Leavenworth. In 2004–2005 Kansas was served by 36 public and 27 private institutions of higher education.
Kansas had 323 public library systems in 2002, including the large municipal libraries in Kansas City, Wichita, Johnson County, and Topeka. Libraries circulate an average of 10.1 books per resident each year. The Kansas State Library has collections of legal materials, federal and state documents, and materials for the blind. The library also provides reference services and promotes the development of public libraries in the state. The largest library in the state is that of the University of Kansas. The state archives and many books and other materials relating to Kansas history are housed in the Kansas State Historical Society, in Topeka. The society also maintains one of the largest state-wide collections of newspapers in the country. Personal and state papers of President Eisenhower are housed in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, in Abilene.
Noted collections of European, American, and Asian art are housed in the University of Kansas’s Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence. The Wichita Art Museum, the largest art museum in the state, is known for its collection of American art. The Natural History Museum maintained by the University of Kansas contains exhibits of birds, mammals, and fossil skeletons.
The museum of the Kansas State Historical Society houses an extensive collection of archaeological relics and materials from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The society also maintains a number of the state’s historic sites and monuments. In addition, there are local historical museums and historic buildings in a number of Kansas communities. The Eisenhower Center at Abilene houses numerous mementos of the former U.S. president’s long career in government service.
The first periodical or newspaper established in Kansas was the Shawnee Sun, initially published on a monthly basis but later on an irregular schedule. Printed in the Shawnee language, it began publication in 1835 in what is now Johnson County. The Kansas Weekly Herald, the first English-language newspaper in Kansas, was founded in Leavenworth in 1854. In 2002 there were 43 daily newspapers published in Kansas. The leading daily newspapers in the state include the Wichita Eagle, the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Hutchinson News, the Salina Journal, and the Kansas City Kansan. Two tabloid publications with national circulation, Grit and Capper’s, are published in Topeka.
Two of the United States’ most famous small-town journalists were editors of Kansas papers. Edgar Watson Howe, editor of the Atchison Globe and later of E. W. Howe’s Monthly, is particularly noted for his classic novel The Story of a Country Town (1883), which exposed the narrowness of Midwestern small-town life. William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette for nearly 50 years, exercised national influence in social and political matters. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for his editorial writing, and his autobiography, published after his death, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize in 1947. Another influential Kansas journalist was Arthur Capper, who became publisher of the Topeka Daily Capital in 1892 and also published Capper’s Weekly and other widely read farm journals.
The first radio station in Kansas was KFH, licensed in Wichita in 1922. KTVH, the state’s first commercial television station, began operating in Hutchinson in 1953. In 2002 there were 49 AM and 83 FM radio stations and 20 television stations in Kansas.
|E||Music and Theater|
A choral festival featuring the Messiah by German composer George Frideric Handel and other religious music is held in Lindsborg annually during Easter Week, in cooperation with Bethany College. Other music festivals held in the state include one in Wichita, presented in cooperation with Friends University, jazz festivals in Overland Park and Manhattan, and bluegrass festivals in Lawrence and Winfield. There are symphony orchestras in Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka. Little theater groups are active in Wichita, Topeka, and other cities across the state. Professional and touring companies appear in Lawrence, Topeka, Overland Park, and Wichita.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Kansas has a wide variety of interesting places to visit. They range from the fossil beds and unusual geological formations such as Rock City, on the High Plains, to the wheel ruts still discernible along the old Santa Fe and Oregon trails, to the many historic sites and buildings found throughout the state.
There are also numerous facilities for outdoor recreation in the state. Nearly every state park and recreation area in Kansas either includes or adjoins a water area, and almost all of them offer facilities for boating, fishing, and swimming. In addition, many of the state-administered park areas also have facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, and horseback riding. Three national wildlife refuges are administered by the federal government: the Flint Hills refuge in the east, the Kirwin refuge in the north central part of the state, and the Quivira refuge in south central Kansas. Cheyenne Bottoms, near Great Bend, and other wildlife areas are administered by the state.
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka commemorates the landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which in 1954 overturned racial segregation in the nation’s education systems. The site is located at the Monroe Elementary School, which was attended by Linda Brown whose lawsuit against the school system brought about the supreme court ruling.
Other historic sites in Kansas preserve military forts used during the westward expansion. Fort Larned National Historic Site was an outpost established midway along the Santa Fe Trail to protect travelers and mail deliveries. Its stone buildings are among the best-preserved relics of the western wars with Native Americans. Fort Scott National Historic Site, first established by the United States Army to enforce the peace among settlers and Native Americans, played a role in the Mexican War (1846-1848) and was reopened during the Civil War. Fort Leavenworth, in northeastern Kansas near Leavenworth, dates from 1827 and is the oldest active U.S. military post west of the Mississippi River. It is the seat of the U.S. Army General Staff College. Fort Riley was established as a cavalry post early in the 1850s. It is also an active post. The first Capitol of Kansas lies within Fort Riley in northeastern Kansas. The building, located at what was then called Pawnee, served very briefly as the seat of the territorial government in July 1855. It is now maintained as a public museum. Also at Fort Riley is the United States Cavalry Museum.
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve protects another kind of historic resource, the native grasslands that once covered a large portion of the interior of the United States. The preserve, dedicated in 1998, contains 4,409 hectares (10,894 acres) of prairie land located in the Flint Hills area of east-central Kansas. The National Park Service administers the preserve, which is part of the largest tract of tallgrass prairie still remaining on the continent.
There are 25 state parks and recreation areas in Kansas and many historic sites. The largest recreation area is centered on Milford Lake, located in the central part of the state. Other large state parks include Fall River, Toronto, and Elk City, all located in southeastern Kansas; Cheney, Kanopolis, and Sand Hills, all in the central part of the state; Clinton, Perry, and Tuttle Creek, all in northeastern Kansas; Prairie Dog, Cedar Bluff, and Lake Scott, which are in the northwestern part of the state; and Glen Elder, in north central Kansas.
Pawnee Rock Park, a historic site in central Kansas near Great Bend, contains a sandstone mass 24 m (80 ft) high that was one of the most famous landmarks on the Santa Fe Trail. The John Brown Museum, at Osawatomie in eastern Kansas, includes the log cabin where the famous abolitionist often stayed. The site of a former Pawnee village, now containing an archaeological museum, lies in northern Kansas near Republic. The Hollenberg Pony Express Station, in northeastern Kansas near Hanover, is claimed to be the only pony express station in the country that has been preserved in its original, unaltered condition. It houses a small pioneer museum. Other state historic sites are the Iowa, Sac, and Fox Mission at Highland, the Shawnee Mission in Johnson County, the Kaw Indian Mission at Council Grove, Marais des Cygnes Massacre Memorial Park in Linn County, the Fort Hays Historical Park at Hays, and the Edward H. Funston House near Iola, home to two prominent Kansans.
|C||Other Places to Visit|
Many of the places of interest in Kansas are closely associated with 19th-century history, including Old Front Street and the Boot Hill Museum, in Dodge City, which is a replica of the city’s notorious Front Street as it appeared in the late 1870s. There are similar front street reproductions in Abilene and Wichita. The Dalton Museum in Coffeyville preserves relics of the notorious bank robbers, the Dalton Gang.
A number of museums and buildings in the state commemorate famous Kansans. In Medicine Lodge is the Kansas home of the ardent prohibitionist Carry Nation. Near Athol is the one-room cabin home of Dr. Brewster H. Higley, a pioneer physician who wrote the words to “Home on the Range,” now the state song. The famous aviator Amelia Earhart was born in 1897 in a white frame house still standing in Atchison. Perhaps the most noted person associated with Kansas is former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene. Adjoining his boyhood home is the Eisenhower Museum, which houses mementos of Eisenhower’s life and souvenirs of his presidency. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, opposite the museum, contains papers dating from his years in office.
Of scientific interest are the chalk beds of western Kansas, one of the richest sources of fossils in the country. In the Sternberg Memorial Museum at Fort Hays State University, in Hays in west central Kansas, is an outstanding collection of fossils taken from these deposits. Numerous fossils of reptiles have also been unearthed in northwestern Kansas near Oakley. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, in Hutchinson, boasts a major collection of space artifacts. Places of geological interest in Kansas include Monument Rocks, Rock City, and the grass-covered sand dunes located just south of the Arkansas River in Finney and Kearny counties.
The Bartlett Arboretum, near Belle Plaine, has several thousand kinds of trees, shrubs, and flowers growing in a formal garden. In Gage Park in Topeka is the Reinisch Rose Garden.
Of the many fairs held in Kansas each year, the most outstanding is the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, held in September. In October maple leaf festivals are held in Baldwin and Hiawatha and the Apple Butter Festival in Newton. Kansas Day, the anniversary of statehood, is celebrated throughout the state on January 29. On Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, homemakers from Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England, compete in the International Pancake Race, which is held simultaneously in the two communities. The Messiah Festival, an internationally known music festival, is presented during Easter Week by Bethany College, in Lindsborg. Of national interest are the Kansas Relays, which are held in April on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. Early in June the Flint Hills Rodeo is held in Strong City. In the summer months nearly every community in Kansas hosts a festival. A parade and carnival has marked the Richmond Free Fair for more than 70 years, while the Frontier Day celebration in Haddam has occurred more than 125 times. Also in July is the Kansas City Indian Club Powwow, a gathering of Native Americans; and Dodge City Days, with a rodeo, car races, and concerts. In August the Central Kansas Free Fair, which includes the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, is held in Abilene.
The present constitution of Kansas was approved by the electorate in 1859, about 16 months before the state entered the Union. Proposed amendments to the constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the state legislature or by a constitutional convention. To become effective they must be approved by a majority of the electorate voting on the amendment in a general election.
The head of the executive branch of the state government is the governor, who is elected to a four-year term jointly with the lieutenant governor and may succeed to office once. The governor may veto legislation, but the legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds majority vote in each legislative house. Other elected executive officials include the secretary of state, the attorney general, the treasurer of state, and the commissioner of insurance, who are also elected to four-year terms. There are many state boards and commissions, most of whose members are appointed to office by the governor.
The state legislature is made up of two houses: a 40-member Senate and a 125-member House of Representatives. State senators are elected to four-year terms, and state representatives are elected to two-year terms. Regular sessions of the legislature are convened annually at Topeka on the second Monday in January. The governor is authorized to call special sessions. There is a legislative coordinating council composed of leading members of both houses of the legislature.
The highest court in Kansas is the Supreme Court, consisting of seven justices. Supreme court justices are appointed by the governor from a list of people nominated by a committee. After the first year in office, judges must be confirmed by voters in a general election. The office of chief justice is filled by the justice who is senior in years of continuous service. A court of appeals was established in the mid-1970s. The highest state courts of original jurisdiction are the district courts, to which judges are elected for four-year terms. Probate court judges preside over the probate court in each county and are elected for two years. Kansas also has county courts and municipal courts.
Each of the state’s 105 counties is governed by a board of three to five commissioners, who are elected to four-year terms. The counties are divided into more than 1,300 townships, each of which is governed by an elected board made up of a trustee, a treasurer, and a clerk. Among the 627 incorporated municipalities, the most common type of municipal government is the mayor and council form. A number of cities have the council and city manager and commission forms.
Kansas is represented in the Congress of the United States by four members in the House of Representatives and two members in the Senate, giving the state six electoral votes in presidential elections.
Beginning about 10,000 years ago, five different prehistoric cultures appeared in the area of present-day Kansas. They were the predecessors of later Plains peoples: the Wichita, Pawnee, Kansa (or Kaw), Osage, and Kiowa-Apache. When Europeans first arrived in the area of present-day Kansas in the 16th century, the peoples of the region were basically of two types, semisedentary and nomadic. The semisedentary peoples, including the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita, generally lived along the rivers of eastern Kansas, just east of the Great Plains region. They lived in semipermanent settlements of earth or grass lodges and cultivated some crops, although hunting bison, or buffalo, was their primary means of livelihood. The nomadic peoples most closely associated with Kansas, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, and Comanche peoples, arrived in the area of Kansas in the early 17th century and ranged widely over the High Plains of western Kansas as well as over other parts of the Great Plains. The Plains peoples relied almost wholly on buffalo hunting for their livelihood, and entire peoples were almost continually on the move pursuing buffalo herds. They traveled almost exclusively on horseback and were among the best riders in North America.
|B||Early European Exploration|
The Spanish explorer and conqueror Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was the first white person to enter the Kansas region. In April 1541 Coronado led an expedition from the region of Spanish New Mexico in search of a fabled wealthy kingdom called Quivira, which was actually only a village of the Wichita people living in what is now Kansas. The expedition was guided by a native inhabitant known as the Turk (because his headwrapping looked to the Spanish like a turban), who had promised the Spaniards the gold and silver of Quivira. After a difficult journey, Coronado finally reached Quivira in July, but finding none of the promised riches and suspecting that his guide had misled him, Coronado had the Turk killed. The Spaniards remained among the native inhabitants for nearly a month and then returned to the New Mexico region. Spain showed little interest in the Kansas area until more than 150 years later.
In 1682 René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, finished a journey down the Mississippi River by claiming all the land drained by the river for France, including present-day Kansas. The French then conducted an extensive fur trading operation along the Mississippi and its tributaries. As part of that effort, they sent traders and explorers into the lower Missouri River valley to win the friendship of the peoples there. In 1720 the Spanish, now concerned about French activity, dispatched a small force under Pedro de Villasur from Santa Fe to drive out the French. Pawnee attacked and killed Villasur’s men, and the French took undisputed possession of the Missouri Valley region. From 1744 until 1764 the French occupied Fort Cavagnial, a trading and military post, near present-day Leavenworth. From there they traded with the local peoples.
In 1763 after the French and Indian War, the last in a series of battles between Great Britain and France for domination in North America, France lost nearly all its North American territory, called the Louisiana Territory (Louisiane, in French). But in 1762 France had secretly ceded all its lands west of the Mississippi to Spain, France’s ally in the war. France then regained the land in 1800 under another secret agreement with Spain, and in 1803 the United States acquired what is now Kansas as part of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France (see Louisiana Purchase).
|C||United States Exploration|
In 1803 U.S. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new acquisition west of the Mississippi River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition started from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1804 and reached the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers on June 26. They explored the surrounding area for three days, then continued up the Missouri River on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1806 Zebulon Montgomery Pike led another expedition to explore the West. Pike traveled mostly overland rather than along the rivers, as Lewis and Clark had done, crossing Kansas from east to west. After crossing the Great Plains he reported that they were largely uninhabitable and that U.S. settlement would be confined to east of the Missouri River. In 1819 and 1820, Major Stephen H. Long headed another expedition that explored part of Kansas and reaffirmed Pike’s earlier conclusions about the land.
Because U.S. leaders believed the Kansas region to be unfit for white settlement, Congress passed legislation in 1830 and 1834 allowing the federal government to use large sections of eastern Kansas—part of a much larger resettlement area west of the Mississippi River that whites called Indian Territory—to resettle Native American peoples who were relocated from east of the Mississippi River. In total, between 1825 and 1840 the U.S. government moved about 11,000 Native Americans to the Kansas area. In 1834 and 1835 some of the Shawnee were moved; the Iowa people were relocated to northeastern Kansas in 1837; in the 1830s and 1840s groups of Potawatomis and Ottawas were moved to reservations in Kansas; in 1842 the Wyandot were forced to leave their Michigan and Ohio lands and move to Kansas; in 1846 most of the Miami people were relocated to Kansas; and in 1846 the Kansa were moved from their lands along the lower Kansas River to a reservation at Council Grove; in 1873 they were moved once more, this time to Oklahoma, where they have since remained. Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries moved to Kansas in the 1830s to work among the Native Americans.
|E||Trails Across Kansas|
In the early 19th century, white settlers began crossing the Great Plains to reach the West, and trails like the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail crossed Kansas. Only a small number of whites (fewer than 1000) settled in Kansas. As part of Indian Territory, Kansas remained forbidden to white settlers, except for missionaries. The Santa Fe Trail, which was a regular trade route between western Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as early as 1821, was used almost continuously until 1880, when a railroad reached Santa Fe. The trail crossed Kansas from the northeast to the southwest corner.
Several military forts were built along these trails to protect travelers, especially from the Comanche. The first of these was Fort Leavenworth, built in 1827 under the direction of Colonel Henry Leavenworth. The first permanent white settlement in the Kansas region grew up around this post. The U.S. Army also built Fort Scott (1842), Fort Riley (1853), and Fort Larned (1859).
When Kansas became a territory it was illegal to sell any of the land; it belonged to the native peoples, to whom it had been promised when they moved there. Even before Kansas became a territory, U.S. Indian Agent George Manypenny was in Kansas negotiating new treaties with Native Americans. Under these treaties Native Americans in Kansas lost most of their lands and were forced to move to the remaining Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. By the 1870s almost all Native American land in Kansas had been ceded to the United States, and by 1880 all but a very few Native Americans had been forced out of Kansas.
In many cases the treaties were not needed. White settlers moved to Kansas, encouraged by federal laws that allowed them to purchase the land they lived on—even if they had occupied the land illegally. The United States also encouraged settlers in Kansas and elsewhere by refusing to expel whites who trespassed on Native American lands. Once settlers were certain that the U.S. government would not remove them, migration increased dramatically. Native Americans resisted as best they could; fighting between whites and Native Americans in western Kansas was especially vicious. Whites, however, continued to settle in Kansas.
|G||Kansas Territory and Statehood|
As the demand for land increased in the early 1850s, the Congress of the United States considered plans to open Kansas to white settlement and to create a territorial government. Numerous bills were introduced in Congress to create a Nebraska Territory that would include both the Kansas and Nebraska regions, but each was defeated. Then, in 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which created separate Kansas and Nebraska territories. It also allowed territorial inhabitants to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery in the territory, thus repealing a provision of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that had prohibited slavery in the territories north of latitude 36°30’ (except Missouri).
The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. By opening up what had been Native American country to white settlement, Douglas and other Northern leaders hoped to encourage construction of a transcontinental railroad through their states rather than through the Southern part of the country. (The portion of the railroad built in Kansas became the Union Pacific Railroad.) Instead the bill encouraged both the proslavery and antislavery factions to rush to Kansas as fast as possible to prevent the other factions from securing political control of the new state. The Kansas-Nebraska Act greatly increased the tension between North and South in the years before the American Civil War (1861-1865).
On May 30, 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act creating the two new territories. Andrew H. Reeder of Pennsylvania was appointed the first governor of Kansas Territory, which included a considerable part of present-day Colorado. In 1855 the governor chose Pawnee, on the present-day Fort Riley Reservation, as the territorial capital.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act resulted in a struggle between U.S. citizens from Southern states who were eager to extend slavery into the new territory and those from Northern states who were determined to stop the spread of slavery (called free-soilers). The chaos and violence that marked this period earned the territory the name Bleeding Kansas, during what was called the Border War.
Early in 1854 proslavery and antislavery advocates in other parts of the country began to organize societies to encourage the settlement of Kansas. These societies included the proslavery Blue Lodges in the neighboring slave state of Missouri and other slaveholding states, and the New England Emigrant Aid Company and other antislavery societies in the Northeast. In June 1854 proslavery and antislavery partisans began to settle in rival communities in the Kansas Territory. Lawrence and Topeka soon became the leading antislavery centers and Leavenworth and Atchison were the main proslavery strongholds. Not every new arrival was an ardent advocate or opponent of slavery. Economic opportunity, and not the slavery issue, brought many early settlers, particularly from the Ohio and upper Mississippi river valleys.
Elections for the first Kansas territorial legislature were held in March 1855. On election day, several thousand men, known as Border Ruffians, crossed into Kansas from Missouri. Stuffing ballot boxes, bullying voters, and intimidating judges, they helped the proslavery faction defeat the free-soil voters and elect a predominantly proslavery legislature. In July that body convened first at Pawnee, and later at Shawnee Methodist Mission in present-day Johnson County, to pass strong proslavery laws and expel its few free-soil members. Governor Reeder, a proslavery moderate, refused to recognize the acts of the legislature, and at the legislature’s request he was removed from office by President Pierce and in 1856 had to flee the territory in disguise.
In September 1855 antislavery settlers met at Big Springs, midway between Lawrence and Topeka. They repudiated the earlier legislature, established the Free State Party, and organized local militia forces. At a convention at Topeka in October, they drew up a state constitution prohibiting slavery. Early in 1856 they elected their own governor and legislature, neither of which the federal government recognized.
On May 21, 1856, after several months of inflammatory newspaper editorials on both sides, threats, and the murder of a Free Stater, a proslavery force attacked the Free State community of Lawrence, looting and burning several buildings. The Connecticut-born abolitionist John Brown and his sons avenged this crime on May 24, 1856, by killing five proslavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek. This act, as well as his success in withstanding a large party of attacking proslavery Missourians at Osawatomie in August, made Brown nationally famous as a foe of slavery. Several raids and armed skirmishes followed, until the intervention of federal troops in September brought some degree of peace to the territory. However, factional violence in Kansas did not end until 1858, following the Marais des Cygnes Massacre of Free Staters by Missourians in what is now Linn County.
In July 1857 the territorial governor, Robert J. Walker, persuaded the Free State Party to participate in the territorial election later in October. In the election, which was well supervised compared with earlier elections, the Free State Party gained control of the legislature.
Despite the defeat, proslavery settlers continued to press for Kansas’s admission to the Union as a slave state. In November 1857 it held a convention at Lecompton and proposed a state constitution that would guarantee the right to hold slaves in Kansas. Proslavery forces then arranged the ballot so that territorial voters would vote not on the constitution but on the question of whether there would be a “constitution with slavery” or a “constitution with no slavery.” This meant that the electorate could prohibit the introduction of slaves into Kansas in the future but could not interfere with slavery already existing there. Free Staters refused to participate in such an election; instead, the Free State legislature scheduled a vote on the constitution for January 1858. This time the proslavery forces refused to vote, and the Lecompton constitution was rejected almost unanimously. A new constitution drawn up by the Free Staters was approved by the voters in May but was rejected by the U.S. Congress, which instead arranged another vote in which the Lecompton constitution was finally and overwhelmingly defeated.
In July 1859 a new proposed state constitution that included an article prohibiting slavery was drawn up at Wyandotte, now part of Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas voters approved the new constitution by a two-to-one margin in an October election and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as the 34th state. The boundaries of the new state were drawn to exclude the Kansas Territory’s western section, which eventually became part of Colorado. Charles Robinson was elected the state’s first governor, and Topeka became the state capital.
|I||Mid-19th Century Development|
Economic difficulties resulted from a national depression in 1857 and a severe drought in 1859 and 1860. However, the discovery of gold in 1858 in the eastern Rocky Mountains of present-day Colorado, then in western Kansas Territory, brought prosperity to some. Miners purchased supplies in the Missouri River towns of Atchison and Leavenworth; stagecoach and freight companies—such as Russell, Majors, and Waddell—became big businesses; and the Smoky Hill Trail across central Kansas was opened.
The Pony Express, a mail service between Saint Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, began on April 3, 1860, under the direction of the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company. At that time, regular mail service took up to three weeks to cross the continent, but the Pony Express carried mail on horseback between Saint Joseph and Sacramento in ten days. Pony Express riders were expected to cover 120 km (75 mi) a day. William Frederick Cody, who later became a scout and showman, known as Buffalo Bill, rode the Pony Express, which lasted only a little more than a year because of the completion of the transcontinental telegraph.
|J||The Civil War|
Shortly after Kansas achieved statehood the Civil War began. Kansas contributed more than 20,000 men (two-thirds of the adult males in the state) to the Union effort. Blacks and Native Americans each contributed soldiers to the Union troops raised in Kansas. Kansas troops served on the plains, saw action in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and the Indian Territory, and the Eighth Kansas Infantry distinguished itself at Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga. There were no major battles in Kansas, but Kansas troops helped pursue a retreating Confederate force under General Sterling Price in October 1864, following his defeat at the battle of Westport in present-day Kansas City, Missouri. The Confederates were caught in Kansas, but Price managed to escape.
Confederate guerrillas led by William Quantrill raided several communities in eastern Kansas, and some Kansans engaged in similar activity in western Missouri. On August 21, 1863, Quantrill attacked Lawrence, Kansas, at dawn, destroyed its businesses, and killed 150 people, most of them civilians. In October Quantrill raided Baxter Springs and then attacked troops on their way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Disguised in Union uniforms, the guerrillas took the Union force by surprise and inflicted heavy casualties.
|K||Postwar Economic Development|
The decades after the Civil War were the most intensive period of settlement in the history of Kansas. Between 1860 and 1890 the population of Kansas increased from about 100,000 to 1.4 million. The population growth between 1870 and 1890 exceeded population growth in the following 80 years.
Before the Civil War almost all white settlement took place in eastern Kansas, where growing corn and vegetables and raising livestock were the main economic activities. Toward the end of the Civil War and immediately after, the U.S. Army built five new military posts in western Kansas to protect travelers on the Smoky Hill and the Santa Fe trails from the Plains peoples who raided settlers and communities in retaliation for continuing white settlement and corrupt treaty negotiations. Attacks and counterattacks followed, and massacres in other states were revenged in Kansas. As settlement slowly moved west and railroad construction resumed, the army moved to defeat the native peoples to protect settlers and rail workers. Military occupation of the posts—Forts Hays, Harker, Dodge, Zarah, and Wallace—ended in the early 1880s; the U.S. Army had defeated and removed almost all Native Americans by 1878.
In the late 1870s and the 1880s many farmers migrated to central and western Kansas. Many of them took land for homesteads from the government or purchased land from the federally subsidized railroads. Many came from the Mississippi River valley but many also emigrated from central and northern Europe. Unused to conditions on the plains, especially the lack of water and timber, farmers found life difficult. Settlers also had to contend with sporadic Native American raids until 1878 and with occasional droughts, blizzards, and plagues of grasshoppers, called locusts. In the face of these difficulties thousands of settlers abandoned their farms after only a few years and moved to other parts of the country.
Those that remained, however, adapted to the plains environment. They adopted drought-resistant crops and new agricultural techniques, such as moisture-conserving tilling. They used sod for building houses, and buffalo and cow manure for fuel. Windmills brought water up from deep wells, and in the 1880s farmers began using irrigation in western Kansas. In increasing numbers the plains farmers cultivated drought-resistant strains of wheat developed from Turkey Red, a wheat that immigrants from southern Russia had introduced in Kansas in 1874. The climatic conditions of central and western Kansas suited these wheat strains, and wheat production increased. By the early 20th century wheat had replaced corn as the state’s most important crop.
The growth of ranching and farming during the last few decades of the 19th century stimulated the state’s flour-milling and meat-packing industries, principally in eastern Kansas. In addition, a mining industry developed, based on the state’s deposits of coal, oil, lead, salt, and other minerals.
|L||The Cattle Industry|
The first railroad line in central Kansas, the Union Pacific, had reached Abilene in 1867. Shortly thereafter, extensive corrals for cattle were built in Abilene, which became the first Kansas cow town. Texas cattlemen drove their stock north along the Chisholm Trail to the Abilene stockyards. The cattle were then shipped by rail to Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, or other markets east of the Mississippi. Later, other cattle trails met the railroads at the Kansas towns of Wichita, Ellsworth, Caldwell, and Dodge City.
Kansas, with its Native Americans, cowboys, cattle drives, and dusty frontier towns, became part of the legendary “Wild West” that was romanticized in stories and films. Buffalo Bill Cody lived in Kansas, providing buffalo meat for railroad workers. Abilene City Marshal James Butler Hickok (called Wild Bill Hickok), Wyatt Earp, and Ford County Sheriff Bat Masterson, tried to keep law and order in these towns and were made famous later in books and motion pictures.
In the 1870s the cattle drivers found it more profitable to raise their own stock on Kansas rangelands than to drive half-wild herds of cattle from Texas. They could thus avoid the long, arduous cattle drives, and also raise better grades of beef cattle using controlled breeding in one location. As a result, cattle raising increased in central and western Kansas, and cattle drives became more infrequent, ending completely by the mid-1880s. By that time formerly open rangeland had been enclosed by a new invention called barbed wire; stringent legislation had restricted the Texas cattle drives; and railroads had reached Texas, eliminating the original reason for the drives.
Kansas farmers battled declining prices for agricultural products through most of the late 19th century, and paid what they considered to be excessive prices for storing and shipping their produce. Many went heavily into debt and, when they were unable to repay, lost their houses, their land, or both. As a result, Kansas farmers and those in related industries supported major political and economic reforms advocated by a number of organizations, including the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (called the National Grange), the Farmers’ Alliance, and the Populist Party, which was the strongest political reform organization in Kansas.
The Populist Party called for the unlimited, or free, coinage of silver dollars and wanted the government to put larger amounts of paper money in circulation. The party hoped that these measures would make it easier for farmers to repay their debts. The party also wanted other reforms: an end to the national banking system; government-run railroads; a tax on income; the direct, popular election of U.S. senators; and the referendum, with which voters could approve or reject the laws their legislators made.
In 1892 and 1896 Kansas elected governors who received the support of both the Populist and the Democratic parties. In addition, the Populists gained control of the state legislature for a time, and a number of Populist candidates were elected to the U.S. Congress. Despite these electoral successes, however, the Populists managed to pass only limited reforms, and when farm prices began to rise in the last few years of the 19th century, the strength of the Populist Party declined.
Republicans who believed that government should play a larger role in economic affairs, called Progressives, later took on many Populist causes. Between 1904 and 1912 Kansas strengthened its child labor laws, enacted compensation for injured workers, strengthened state regulation of railroad rates, and passed a law authorizing the state to examine and approve all sales of business securities in Kansas. William Allen White, an editor from Emporia, was an important member of this group, most of whom supported President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) in his attempts to reform the government.
|N||Early 20th Century|
Kansas prospered in the period between 1900 and 1930. Agricultural production grew rapidly, and Kansas became one of the leading wheat-producing regions in the United States. World War I (1914-1918) increased the demand for wheat, which encouraged the expansion of acreage under cultivation. In addition, mechanization, widespread use of dry-farming techniques, and the increasing use of irrigation also contributed to the state’s increased agricultural productivity. Although the oil industry expanded rapidly following the opening of major oil fields in eastern Kansas during World War I, meat packing and flour milling remained the leading manufacturing industries in the early 20th century.
Economic depression in the 1930s brought hardship to Kansas. A prolonged drought from 1931 to 1937 worsened the plight of Kansas farmers. The Great Plains suffered from soil erosion, and high winds churned the loose topsoil into enormous swirling dust storms, or black blizzards. In Kansas and the rest of what was called the Dust Bowl, thousands of farmers, unable to farm profitably, if at all, abandoned their farms and migrated to other parts of the country, particularly the West. Between 1930 and 1940 the state’s total population decreased, despite the fact that the urban population increased slightly.
In the late 1930s, rainfall increased, reducing the dust storms. The federal and state governments also began widespread conservation efforts to help Kansans recover from the depression. These included stabilizing and diversifying the state’s agricultural economy by encouraging the use of better crop rotation and the greater production of sorghum grains and other crops. Kansas also benefited considerably from various federal public works programs such as the Works Progress Administration, which provided money to build public buildings and roads, as well as for Kansas artists.
|O||World War II and Early Postwar Years|
During World War II (1939-1945) the increased demand for farm products once again helped Kansas agriculture. In addition, wartime demands for machinery and military equipment greatly expanded industrial production, particularly in aircraft manufacturing in the Wichita area. By the end of the war the manufacture of aircraft and other transportation equipment was a major economic activity. As a result, Kansas’s economy became less dependent on agriculture. The trend toward industrialization was paralleled by an increase in urbanization.
The 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, represented a turning point in the history of the United States. Reversing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which said that racially “separate but equal” public institutions were legal, the court held that segregated public schools were “inherently unequal” and denied black children equal protection under the law. It later directed that the state provide desegregated educational facilities “with all deliberate speed.” Kansas had been only one of many states that had “separate but equal” schools that were affected by the decision. Although Southern white officials sought to obstruct implementation of the Brown decision, many blacks saw the ruling as a sign that the federal government might intervene on their behalf in other racial matters.
Agricultural output in Kansas grew during the 1960s and 1970s, but on fewer, larger, and more mechanized farms. The decline in the number of farms continued at a diminished rate even into the 1990s, despite the fact that Kansas often leads the nation in wheat production. Kansas became increasingly urbanized, and in 1970 nearly two-thirds of Kansans lived in cities and towns.
However, beginning in 1990, population in rural counties began increasing. In some cases it indicated the growth of bedroom communities, or towns in which workers live although they work in other cities; in others it was attributed to the advance of communication technologies that allowed people to work considerable distances from urban centers.
Manufacturing, led by aircraft production, continued to gain importance in the state’s economy. The production of military aircraft declined after the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1959-1975), but each decline was accompanied by increasing production of small civilian aircraft. Other industries, such as the manufacture of automobiles and related products like tires and batteries, also grew.
New manufacturing plants continue to be built in Kansas. Large corporate headquarters for insurance and communication companies have also found homes in eastern Kansas. As a result, despite the loss of jobs in some historically important businesses, such as railroading, the unemployment rate has remained low in the 1990s.
The Republican Party has dominated Kansas politics for a century. Only five Democrats had been elected governor prior to 1956, and each served only one term. In the 20th century the Democrats controlled the state senate only once and the house only for four legislative sessions. However, since 1957 Kansas Democrats have been more successful, especially with the governorship. Democrat George Docking served two, two-year terms (1957-1961) and his son, Robert Docking, served four terms (1967-1975), following John Anderson, Jr., and William Avery, both Republicans. Republican Robert Bennett was elected to the first four-year gubernatorial term in 1974 but was defeated for reelection in 1978 by John Carlin, a Democrat, who served until 1987. The Republican Mike Hayden won in 1986, but he was beaten in 1990 by Democrat Joan Finney, the first woman to be the governor of Kansas. She did not run again and a Republican, Bill Graves, took office in 1995 and was reelected in 1998. In 2002 a Democrat, Kathleen Sebelius, won the governor’s office.
Kansas’s seats in the U.S. Congress have been held mostly by Republicans. Robert Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1968 to 1996, when he resigned his seat to campaign full time for U.S. president. Dole received the Republican Party nomination but lost in the general election to Bill Clinton. Kansas has generally voted for Republican presidential candidates, but the state voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 (although the Republican candidate was the state’s popular and respected governor, Alf Landon) and for Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964.
Kansas has elected women to congressional seats several times and has elected women to the offices of state treasurer, insurance commissioner, lieutenant governor, and governor. Georgia Neese Clark Gray served as the United States treasurer under President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953). The state lost a congressional seat following reapportionment in the 1990s and was reduced to four representatives.
|R2||Social, Health, and Environmental Issues|
Kansas, which had long prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages, voted to repeal the ban on alcohol sales in 1948, and in 1986 the constitution was amended again to allow liquor sales by the drink. In 1986 the state also approved a state lottery and legalized betting on horse and dog races. Casino gambling on Native American reservations was authorized in 1995, and debates continue on whether to allow gambling in other areas. The Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages became legal in 2004 on a local-option basis, and in 2005 the privilege was extended to grocery and convenience stores selling 3.2 percent beer.
Kansas was a pioneer in public health and environmental concerns. In the 1990s county and regional mental health programs were expanded. Concerns about child abuse, battered women, and drug dependency grew in the 1970s, and in 1980 Kansas became the first state to create a fund for child-abuse prevention programs.
Conservation efforts have continued since the 1930s but concerns about water increased in the 1980s and 1990s. The volume of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies much of western Kansas, has decreased because of heavy irrigation. The construction of several reservoirs on major streams since the 1950s alleviated water shortages and provided flood control, but greater demand for water by an increasing urban population means that the state must work harder to protect its most valuable natural resource.
|R3||Teaching of Evolution|
As Kansas prepared to enter the 21st century, it became the focus of a controversial decision in 1999 by the Kansas Board of Education to remove most references to evolution from the state curricula guidelines. Under those guidelines, the concept that evolution gives rise to new species would not be taught in Kansas schools, and knowledge of evolution would not be required in state assessment tests. The 6-4 vote in favor of the new guidelines resulted in a backlash against religious conservatives who supported the decision, and moderates regained control of the board in the 2000 elections.
But in the 2004 elections, religious conservatives opposed to the teaching of evolution again won six seats on the board. In November 2005 the board voted 6-4 for the state’s science curricula standards to teach that evolution is controversial. The new standards were opposed by leading scientists and scientific organizations, who argued that evolution is an accepted fact in science and is not controversial. In February 2007, however, a newly elected board rescinded the guidelines.
|R4||Recent Supreme Court Decisions|
In January 2005 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the legislature had not fulfilled its constitutional duty to fund kindergarten through 12th grade schools. The court mandated an increased amount. A special session of the state legislature was called, and ultimately $290 million in new money was appropriated. The new statute also required that 65 percent of the added state dollars be used in the classroom. Also in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas death penalty law was unconstitutional. That ruling is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, which may rule on it in 2006.
The history section of this article was contributed by Robert W. Richmond. The remainder of the article was contributed by James R. Shortridge.