Kansas is home to Native Americans, European immigrants and many other cultural heritages. This blend of cultures offers diverse arts, shopping, dining and historic sightseeing experiences across the big and small towns of Kansas. Topeka was chosen to be the capital on Jan. 29, 1861, when Kansas was admitted as the 34th state of the union. Topeka is home to several historic attractions, including the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site & Museum and The Kansas Museum of History.
The Kaw Mission in Council Grove and the Shawnee Methodist Mission in Fairway are state historic sites. The Mid-AmericaCenter Annual Intertribal Pow Wow in Wichita draws thousands of Native American participants from across the nation. Every three years, Medicine Lodge hosts the Peace Treaty Pageant and Celebration to commemorate the 1867 treaty between the five Plains Tribes and the U.S. government. Pow wows are also held in Topeka, Lawrence and Mayetta.
After the Civil War, large numbers of European immigrants settled in Kansas, the largest groups being the Germans and Mennonites. German heritage can be seen in the magnificent churches they built including St. Fidelis, known as the “Cathedral of the Plains” in Victoria, and St. Mary’s in St. Benedict. The Mennonites were key in the development of Kansas. The Mennonite Heritage Museum in Goessel and the Kauffman Museum in North Newton are devoted to Mennonite history. In 1868 the Union Pacific Railroad moved west, opening the area to settlement, and in 1874, Wilson became the home of the Bohemians. They built homes out of quarried post-rock. Today, 22 of those buildings are still standing.
The community of Lindsborg was settled in 1869 by nearly 100 Swedish immigrant pioneers. Today known as Little Sweden USA, Lindsborg has art galleries and studios, shopping and world-class chamber music.
In the mid-1800s, the Adair family helped famed abolitionist John Brown hide escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. The Adair cabin near Osawatomie still stands and serves as the John Brown Museum State Historic Site. Lawrence also has several Underground Railroad sites in the city. After the Civil War, freed slaves established all-black communities around the country. Nicodemus is the only remaining all-black town west of the Mississippi River and is now a National Historic Site.
Kansas also has its quirky side. In Cawker City, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is constantly growing. Started by Frank Stoeber on his farm in 1953, the ball currently weighs in at 17,320 lbs, has a 40-foot circumference, and includes nearly 7 million feet of sisal twine. Given to the city in 1961, the ball’s size benefits from an annual twine-a-thon.
There are more than 300 agri-tourism businesses registered in the state of Kansas, and more working farms, ranches and wineries are inviting guests to visit, learn and even participate in the work.
The average annual temperature in Kansas is 55 degrees; average rainfall is 28.7 inches.