Recently, I attended a business meeting in Denver that ended earlier than expected. What does a Custer buff do with 3.5 days when he is this close to western Kansas? He rents a car and takes off to explore a part of the Custer experience on the southern plains. With camera and map in hand, I was able to visit historical sites from Beecher Island to the Washita. What follows is a pictorial essay of the Custer Trail through Kansas.
Kansas, our 34th state, is frequently thought of by the bicoastal societal elite as one big wheat field populated by people looking much like those in the Grant Wood American Gothic painting. But after learning some of the history of Kansas and meeting some of its friendly citizens, I became convinced that Kansas has evolved into one of our greatest states, one that has a wealth of history and activities that will enrich the lives of all who visit.
In the beginning, Kansas was home to a large portion of the great buffalo herds that roamed the plains. It was also home to the Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita. Kansas figured prominently in the "Manifest Destiny" of our country, witnessing the opening of the west via wagon trains, railroad expansion, and homesteaders. Kansas is the home of the legendary Earps and Daltons, Dodge City and Coffeyville, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the "Bleeding Kansas" of John Brown, and Quantrill. One of the few places that welcomed former slaves as homesteaders was Kansas. Kansas played a key role in the civil rights movement as the origin of the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. Famous Kansans include Clyde Cessna, Emelia Earhart, Laura Ingalls(Little House), Carry Nation, Dwight Eisenhower, Alf Landon, and of course, Senator Bob Dole. Its wheat and corn feed not only the U.S., but the world. The geographic center of the continental U.S. as well as the geodetic center are located here. Kansas is populated by hardworking, friendly people who respect those who seek to learn its history and are always eager to help. The universities, museums, and cultural activities are second to none.
In search of Washita
Quest for Comanche
|Beecher Island||Comanche||Kansas Forts|
|Kidder Massacre||Goodland||Kansas State Historical Society|
|Colby||Custer comes to Kansas|
|Monument Rocks||Hoxie||Custer's boots|
|Fort Dodge||Nicodemus||Fort Riley Army Hospital|
|On to the Washita||Fort Hays||Fort Wallace|