Astra per Aspera
To the Stars Through Difficulties
Facts about Kansas for each letter of the alphabet.
Click on highlighted words for more information
The Amish way of life largely revolves around working and socializing together as a family and community. A small Mennonite group, the Amish, live near Yoder which is the central point for surrounding Amish communities. The Russian Mennonites are credited with bringing hardy wheat to Kansas.
April is ARCHAEOLOGY month in Kansas, and there are archaeology events and activies during the year. The state has several archaeological sites. The Tobias-Thompson Complex is a National Historical Landmark and on the National Register of Historical Places. El Quartelejo Ruins is located in Lake Scott State Park and has a museum. The Kansas State Historical Society provides assistance on issues relating to archaeological resources
Kansas has over 400 species of birds. Birdwatching is popular and the are many Birding Hotspots and Birding Trails. The State Bird is the Western Meadowlark. The state has the largest population of wild grouse in North America and it is often commonly called the Prairie Chicken. Millions of migrating birds stop off at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge each year. Pheasants are a popular game bird.
Kansas has many bridges including several Historic Bridges. Many of them are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Rock Island Bridge is the longest railroad bridge of its kind. Centennial Bridge is the longest bridge in the state. Kansas also has Covered Bridges and Suspension Bridges.
Kansas has 105 COUNTIES. The largest county in size is Butler County and the smallest is Wyandotte County. Johnson County has the largest population and Greeley County the smallest. Barton County is the only county in the state that is named after a women - Civil War nurse, Clara Barton. The largest city is Wichita. The term county is used in 48 of the 50 states for the level of government below the state government. The government is modeled on the federal system.
DINOSAURSlived along the Kansas shoreline. A variety of fossils have been found in the state including those of an armored dinosaur and a Pterosaur. Fick Fossil and History Museum in Oakley, has more than 11,000 sharks teeth and other fossils from the area. Monument Rocks National Landmark formations are giant towers of chalk filled with fossils from an ancient sea. The University of Kansas offers programs for children about dinosaurs including a Dinosaur Detective Summer Camp.
The Kansas Department of EDUCATION supervises public education and other educational interests in the state. Public education in Kansas is free and and ranked among the best in the country. Attendence is required from age 7 through 16 unless otherwise exempt. There are many public and Private Schools, and homeschooling is popular. Kansas Kids @ Gear Up assists students in attaining educational success. The Kansas Department of Wildlife has educational programs. The Great Plains Nature Center is a new education facility in Wichita. The National Teachers Hall of Fame is located in Emporia. Information about schools in Kansas is available at GreatSchools and SchoolBug.
Kansas has many EVENTS during the year including State Fairs and County Fairs. Kansas City has several Multi-Cultural Celebrations. There is an annual Octoberfest in Hays. and St. Lucy's Day is celebrated in Lindsborg. InternationalPancake Day is celebrated in the town of Liberal. There are Scottish Games and Festivals. Kansas observes Public Holidays and other special days.
The Kansas State FLAG consists of a dark blue field with the State Seal in the center. A sunflower on a bar of twisted gold lies above the seal, and below the seal is the word "Kansas". Some counties and municipalities have a flag. The city of Wichita has a flag. The Wyandot Tribe has their own flag.
The FOOD timeline of Kansas dates back to early pioneers. Immigrants retained some of their food traditions--Swedish almond cakes, Bohemian beer and sausages, English pancakes, and Scottish scones. When the German Mennonites arrived each family brought with them seeds of a special wheat they had been growing on the steppes of Russia. These seeds flourished and made wheat growing in Kansas possible. Kansas has a variety of Food Festivals & Events. The state has 3 edible state symbols - honey, the American buffalo, and sunflower seeds. Kansas has many interesting specialty foods. The Kansas Food Bank provides food whenever and wherever it is needed. The 1st big food service chain in the country was Harvey House. The 1st Pizza Hut was opened in Wichita. Hays House in Council Grove is the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.
At one time Kansas had many FORTS. Some of the forts are now historic sites and some have been restored. Fort de Cavagnia was the first permanent Eropean settlement and fort within what is now Kansas. Its exact location has not been determined. Fort Leavenworth is the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas. A Soldiers Home is maintained at Fort Dodge. After World War II, various infantry divisions have been assigned to Fort Riley. Since access to Fort Sully has been restricted, it remains well preserved.
Kansas has over 50 GHOST TOWNS. Blaine has a Red brick church from 1881. Albany has a schoolhouse and cemetery. Gem has a school house, 3 churches, and 2 business buildings. Selma 2 houses and a school house. Elk Falls claims to be the largest living ghost town. Several hundred people live in Buffalo. The state has Ghost Tours.
The GLOBAL POSITION of Kansas is approximately 37 degrees north longitude and 101 degrees west latitude. The geographic center of the lower 48 states United States is a few miles west of Lebanon. Kansas is bordered by the states of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The a href="http://geology.com/topographic-physical-map/kansas.shtml">Topography of Kansas ranges from 600 ft. to 4,500 ft. The highest point is Mt. Sunflower. The lowest point is the Verdigris River. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt using a Global Positioning System, and there are geocaches throughout the state.
The HISTORY of Kansas dates back to 11,000 b.c. with the arrival of the Paleo-Indians followed by the Woodland Indians. The Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the 1500s. The state was involved in the Civil War. Kansas has had many historic disasters. The worst disaster was a flood in 1951. The state participates in National History Day.
About 15,000 species of INSECTS have been found in Kansas including mayflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, ants, bees, and a variety of bugs. The state has about 181 species of butterflies including the Monarch Butterfly. The State Insect is the honeybee.
Kansas has several ISLANDS. Some are on the U.S. Islands Directory because they have a ham radio. Kickapoo Island is a historical site. Due to flooding concerns, Ackerman Island became part of the current west bank of the Arkansas River Nelson Island is on a River, and Small Lakes Island is in a Lake. Monkey Island was home to the first rhesus monkey fired into space.
Jazz is popular in Kansas. The KU Jazz Festival has been a focal point for jazz performance and education in the central part of the country. The Wichita Grand Opera Company produces opera and has education programs. The State Song is "Home on the Range".
The JUDICIAL System is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The Kansas Judicial System is composed of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, and Municipal Courts.
Many aspects of life in Kansas focus on KIDS. The State has a Kids Zone page. The Kansas Kids Can program provides information about recycling. Kansas Kids has fun and interesting things about the state. The Outdoor Kansas for Kids has events for kids. Kansas City Legoland Discovery Center is a great place for kids.
Public LIBRARIES are located throughout Kansas. The Kansas State Library is in Topeka. The University of Kansas and Kansas State University have libraries. The Eisenhower Presidential Center is located near the boyhood home of the 34th president. The state has a Poet Laureate and celebrates National Poetry Month.
Kansas has a variety of MINERALS. Every year the state produces more than $400 million worth of non-fuel minerals. One of the first natural-gas booms in the country occurred in southeastern Kansas and the largest natural gas field is near Hugoton. Helium, Coal, limestone and salt are also mined in Kansas. The Strataca Salt Mine Museum in Hutchinson is built within one of the largest deposits of rock salt in the world.
A variety of MUSEUMS are located throughout Kansas. Notable art museums are at the University of Kansas in Wichita. The Post Rock Museum and Barbed Wire Museum are in La Crosse. The Gallery of Also-Rans is in Norton. Mid America Air Museum is in Liberal. The State Historical Society in Topeka has a historical museum. The state has several railroad museums.
The first inhabitants of what is now Kansas were NATIVE AMERICANS - the Paleo-Indians. Kansas has been home to many Indian Tribes but most have moved to another state. Kansas has 4 Federally Recognized Tribes. Several unrecognized tribes have submitted a letter of intent including the Delaware-Muncie Tribe, the Swan Creek & Black River Chippewas, the United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, and the Wyandot Nation. The Kickapoo Powwow honors Native American dances & festivities.
Illinois is part of the Old West (the area west of the Mississippi River during the 1800s) and at one time had outlaws and lawmen. The state has Cowboys and Cowgirls and Dodge City is one of the top 10 cowboy towns in the country. Horseback riding is popular and the state has many horse trails. Many rodeos are held throughout the year including an annual one at Strong City. The Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita is a living history museum. The Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Dodge City preserves and honors the life of the Kansas cowboy.
Nearly 3 million PEOPLE live in Kansas, and people who live there are called Kansans. A number of famous people were born or lived in Kansas including Amelia Earhart, a pioneering pilot; Charles Curtis, the only Native American vice-president, Karl Menninger, founder of Menninger Clinic; Bob Dole, former Senate majority Leader; and Walter Chrysler, automaker. Almon Strowger dial telephone inventor lived most of his life in Kansas. Some of the legendary lawmen of the West are associated with Kansas including Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, and Bat Masterson.
There were several PONY EXPRESS stops in Kansas including the Marysville Pony Espress Barn and the Hollenberg Station which is a State Historic Site. Pony Express Riders delivered mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Every spring the Pony Express Association has a reenactment of the legendary cross-country mail ride linking St. Joe on the wide Missouri with the California state capital of Sacramento.
QUILTING is popular in Kansas and there are Quilt Guilds and Quilt Shows throughout the state. The Kansas Alliance of Weavers and Spinners sponsors special events and exhibits. Great Bend's Courthouse Square is circled by the Kansas Quilt Walk where quilt squares embedded in the sidewalks around the square represent quilts made by Kansas women.
About 67 species of REPTILES and turtles are found in Kansas including lizards and snakes. The Ornate Box Turtle is the State Reptile. The state has about 32 species of amphibians including salamanders, toads, and frogs. The State Amphibian is the Barred Tiger Salamander.
Kansas has many RIVERS and creeks. Two major rivers flow west to east, the Kansas in the north and the Arkansas in the south. The Missouri River winds along the northeast corner of the state and was a major thoroughfare for early traders and settlers. Today none of the Kansas waterways are used for navigation. There are 27 "Walnut" creeks in the state. Part of the Ogallala Aquifer lies beneath the state and holds a vast amount of water.
Kansas has all forms of TRANSPORTATION.The Kansas Department of Transportation maintains roads and bridges and has an Adopt-a-Highway Program. The Federal Highway Administration provides information about traffic and road closure. The first license plates in Kansas were issued in 1913, but the year was not put on them until 1921. The state offers a variety of personalized license plates. The Potawatomie Prairie Band of Native Americans has their own license plates. The Wildflower Program beautifies and maintains the roadsides. In 1981 Kansas won the award for the most beautiful license plate. To celebrate its 50th birthday in 2002, Matchbox cars issued a vehicle for each state in the order in which it was admitted into the Union. The vehicle for Kansas was the Weather Radar Truck.
Kansas has 114 species of TREES. The most common trees of eastern Kansas are the oak, hickory, and elm, and black walnut, sycamore, box elder, green ash,hackberry, and the cottonwood which is the State Tree. 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. Kansas has had many Champion Trees. Most of the forestland in Kansas is in the eastern part of the state.
Two Navy ships have been named USS KANSAS. The USS Kansas (1863) was a gunboat and saw action in the Civil War and the USS Kansas (BB-21) was a Connecticut-class Battleship. Three ships have been named USS Topeka in honor of the city. The USS Topeka (35) was a gunboat, the USS Topeka (CL-67) was a light cruiser, and the USS Topeka (SSN-754) is a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine.
Kansas does not have any VOLCANOES. But there is evidence of a volcanic past showing that at one time lava did flow on its surface. Rocks from volcanoes have been found in the state. In 1999, three previously unknown volcanic features were found in northeastern Kansas.
The WEATHER in Kansas varies becuase it is remote from moderating influences of oceans. It has 4 distinct seasons and is one of the windiest states in the country. Kansas is located in what is called Tornado Alley. A severe drought in the 1930's resulted in what was called "the Dust Bowl". The State Climatologist provides information about the climate of the state, and NOAA has weather activities for kids. The Environmental Protection Agency provides information about Climate Change.
Kansas has about 87 species of WILDLIFE including bats, rodents, rabbits, beavers, fox, wolves, bears,and mountain lions. Antelope have been reintroduced in the west, and squirrels, raccoon, and deer occur in the east. Kansas has 4 Wildlife Refuges. Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of wildlife. The 3rd largest herds of bison are located on public lands in Kansas, and the State Animal is the American Bison. The state has a number of threatened and endangered species. Kansas is part of the Defenders of Wildlife Program to help wildlife along roads.
Kansas has YOUTH HOSTELS. It also has Elderhostels now called Road Scholars.
Kansas has ZOOS and Animal Parks. The Kansas City Zoological Park is also a research and education center and is home to the first IMAX Theatre in a zoo. Sunset Zoo in Manhattan participates in a variety of research projects. The Sedgwick County Zoo has been ranked as one of the best zoos in the world. The world famous Topeka Zoo has a variety of areas including a Discovering Apes Building, Lion's Pride, Animals & Man Building, and a Tropical Rain Forest. The David Traylor Zoo is one of the smallest zoos in the country that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It features naturalized exhibits of native and exotic birds and animals and is noted for its extensive landscaping.
As Dorothy said in the
Wizard of Oz
There's no place like