The area was historically home to large numbers of nomadic Native Americans that hunted bison. It was first settled by white Americans in the 1850s, in the midst of political wars over the slavery issue. When officially opened to settlement by the U.S. government in 1854, abolitionists from New England and pro-slavery settlers from neighboring Missouri rushed to the territory to determine if Kansas would become a free state or a slave state. Thus, the area was a hotbed of violence and chaos in its early days as these forces collided, and was known as Bleeding Kansas. The abolitionists eventually prevailed and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a free state. After the Civil War, the population of Kansas exploded when waves of immigrants turned the prairie into productive farmland. Today, Kansas is one of the most productive agricultural states, producing many crops, and leading the nation in wheat and sunflower production.
Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. The state is divided up into 105 counties with 628 cities. It is located equidistant from the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is located in Smith County near Lebanon. The geodetic center of North America was located in Osborne County until 1983. This spot was until then used as the central reference point for all maps of North America produced by the U.S. government. The geographic center of Kansas is located in Barton County. Kansas is also one of the six states located on the Frontier Strip and one of several within Tornado Alley.
The western two thirds of the state, lying in the great central plain of the United States, has a generally flat or undulating surface, and on a large scale appears almost perfectly flat. However, the eastern third is more hilly and forested. The land displays a gradual slope up from east to west; its altitude above the sea ranges from 684 feet (208 m) along the Verdigris River at Coffeyville in Montgomery County, to 4039 feet (1,231 m) at Mount Sunflower, one half mile from the Colorado border, in Wallace County.
The Missouri River forms nearly 75 miles (120 km) of the state's northeastern boundary. The Kansas River (locally known as the Kaw), formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers at appropriately-named Junction City, joins the Missouri at Kansas City, after a course of 170 miles (274 km) across the northeastern part of the state. The Arkansas River, rising in Colorado, flows with a bending course for nearly 500 miles (800 km) across the western and southern parts of the state. It forms, with its tributaries (the Little Arkansas (pronounced Ar-Kansas), Ninnescah, Walnut, Cow Creek, Cimarron, Verdigris, and the Neosho), the southern drainage system of the state. Other important rivers are the Saline and Solomon, tributaries of the Smoky Hill River; the Big Blue, Delaware, and Wakarusa, which flow into the Kansas River; and the Marais des Cygnes, a tributary of the Missouri River.
National parks and historic sites
Areas under the protection of the National Park Service include:
Brown v. Board Of Education National Historic Site in Topeka
California National Historic Trail
Fort Larned National Historic Site in Larned
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Nicodemus National Historic Site at Nicodemus
Oregon National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City
Kansas contains three climate types, according to the Köppen climate classification: humid continental, semiarid steppe, and humid subtropical. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a humid continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. Most of the precipitation falls in the summer and spring. The western third of the state has a semiarid steppe climate. Summers are hot, often very hot. Winters are cold in the northwest and cool to mild in the southwest. Also, the western region is semiarid, receiving an average of only about 16 inches (40 cm) of precipitation per year. Chinook winds in the winter can warm western Kansas all the way into the 80 degree Fahrenheit (25 °C) range. The far south-central and southeastern reaches of the state have a humid subtropical climate, with long, hot summers, short, mild winters, and much more precipitation than the rest of the state.
Precipitation ranges from about 46 inches (1200 mm) annually in the southeast of the state, to about 16 inches (400 mm) in the southwest. Snowfall ranges from around 5 inches (130 mm) in the fringes of the south, to 35 inches (900 mm) in the far northwest. Frost-free days range from more than 200 days in the south, to 130 days in the northwest. Thus, Kansas is the 9th or 10th sunniest state in the country, depending on the source. Western Kansas is as sunny as parts of California and Texas.
In spite of the frequent sunshine throughout much of the state, the state is also vulnerable to strong thunderstorms, especially in the spring. Many of these storms become Supercell thunderstorms. These can spawn tornadoes, often of F3 strength or higher. According to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center , Kansas has reported more tornadoes ( for the period 1st January 1950 through to 31st October 2006) than any state except for Texas - marginally even more than Oklahoma . It has also - along with Alabama - reported more F5 tornadoes than any other state. These are the most powerful of all tornadoes. Kansas averages over 50 tornadoes annually.
For millennia, the land that is presently Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans. The first European to set foot in present-day Kansas was Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who explored the area in 1541. In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Southwest Kansas, however, was still a part of Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas until the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848. From 1812 to 1821, Kansas was part of the Missouri Territory. The Santa Fe Trail traversed Kansas from 1821 to 1880, transporting manufactured goods from Missouri and silver and furs from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wagon ruts from the trail are still visible in the prairie today.
In 1827, Fort Leavenworth became the first permanent settlement of white Americans in the future state and this migration stream originated in the upland South. The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law on May 30, 1854, establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas. Kansas Territory stretched all the way to the Continental Divide and included the sites of present-day Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.
Missouri and Arkansas sent settlers into Southeastern Kansas, namely Crawford County, Bourbon County, and Cherokee County, who attempted to sway votes in favor of slavery. The secondary settlement of Americans in Kansas Territory were abolitionists from Massachusetts and other Free-Staters, who attempted to stop the spread of slavery from neighboring Missouri. Directly presaging the American Civil War, these forces collided, entering into skirmishes that earned the territory the name of Bleeding Kansas. Kansas was admitted to the United States as a free state on January 29, 1861, making it the 34th state to enter the Union. By that time the violence in Kansas had largely subsided. However, during the Civil War, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led several hundred men on a raid into Lawrence, destroying much of the city and killing nearly two hundred people. Until the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Quantrill's raid was the single bloodiest act of domestic terrorism in America.
After the Civil War, many veterans constructed homesteads in Kansas. Many African Americans also looked to Kansas as the land of "John Brown" and led by men like Benjamin "Pap" Singleton began establishing black colonies in the state. At the same time, the Chisholm Trail was opened and the Wild West era commenced in Kansas. Wild Bill Hickok was a deputy marshal at Fort Riley and a marshal at Hays and Abilene. Dodge City was another wild cowboy town in the late 19th century. In one year alone, 8 million head of cattle from Texas boarded trains in Dodge City bound for the East, earning Dodge the nickname "Queen of the Cowtowns." Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp were both lawmen in Dodge City. In part as a response to the violence perpetrated by cowboys, on February 19, 1881, Kansas became the first U.S. state to adopt a Constitutional amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages.
As of 2006, Kansas has an estimated population of 2,764,075, which is an increase of 15,903, or 0.6%, from the prior year and an increase of 71,128, or 2.6%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 93,899 people (that is 246,484 births minus 152,585 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 20,742 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 44,847 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 65,589 people. The center of population of Kansas is located in Chase County, at 38°27'N, 96°32'W , approximately three miles north of the community of Strong City.
As of 2004, the population included 149,800 foreign-born (5.5% of the state population), and an estimated 47,000 illegal aliens (1.7% of state population). The largest reported ancestries in the state are: German (25.9%), Irish (11.5%), English (10.8%), American (8.8%), French (3.1%), and Swedish (2.4%). People of German ancestry are especially strong in the northwest, while those of British ancestry and descendants of white Americans from other states are especially strong in the southeast. Mexicans are present in the southwest and make up nearly half the population in certain counties. Many African Americans in Kansas are descended from the "Exodusters", newly freed blacks who fled the South for land in Kansas following the Civil War.
Kansas, as well as five other Midwest states (Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa), is feeling the brunt of a falling population. Out of all the cities in these states, 89% have fewer than 3000 people, and hundreds of those have fewer than 1000. In Kansas alone, there are more than 6,000 ghost towns, according to Kansas historian Daniel Fitzgerald. And between 1996 and 2004, almost half a million people (nearly half of those having college degrees) left the six states surveyed. This "Rural flight," as it is called, has led to offers of free land and tax breaks as enticements to newcomers.
The 2003 gross domestic product of Kansas was US$98 billion, an increase of 4.3% over the prior year, but trailing the national average increase of 4.8%. Its per-capita income was US$29,438. The December 2003 unemployment rate was 4.9%. The agricultural outputs of the state are cattle, sheep, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, hogs, corn, and salt. The industrial outputs are transportation equipment, commercial and private aircraft, food processing, publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum and mining.
Kansas ranks 8th in U.S. oil production. Production has experienced a steady, natural decline as it becomes increasingly difficult to extract oil over time. Since oil prices bottomed in 1999, oil production in Kansas has remained fairly constant, with an average monthly rate of about 2.8 million barrels in 2004. The recent higher prices have made carbon dioxide sequestration and other oil recovery techniques more economical.
Kansas ranks 8th in U.S. natural gas production. Production has steadily declined since the mid-1990’s with the depletion of the Hugoton Natural Gas Field—the state's largest field which extends into Oklahoma and Texas. In 2004, slower declines in the Hugoton gas fields and increased coalbed methane production contributed to a smaller overall decline. Average monthly production was over 32 billion cubic feet (0.9 km³).
Kansas has 3 income brackets for income tax calculation, ranging from 3.5% to 6.45%. The state sales tax in Kansas is 5.3%. Various cities and counties in Kansas have an additional local sales tax. Except during the 2001 recession (March–November 2001) when monthly sales tax collections were flat, collections have trended higher as the economy has grown and two rate increases have been enacted. Total sales tax collections for 2003 amounted to $1.63 billion, compared to $805.3 million in 1990.
Revenue shortfalls resulting from lower than expected tax collections and slower growth in personal income following a 1998 permanent tax reduction has contributed to the substantial growth in the state's debt level as bonded debt increased from $1.16 billion in 1998 to $3.83 billion in 2006. Some increase in debt was expected as the state continues with its 10-year Comprehensive Transportation Program enacted in 1999. As of June 2004, Moody's Investors Service ranked the state 14th for net tax-supported debt per capita. As a percentage of personal income, it was at 3.8%—above the median value of 2.5% for all rated states and having risen from a value of less than 1% in 1992. The state has a statutory requirement to maintain cash reserves of at least 7.5% of expenses at the end of each fiscal year.
Major company headquarters in Kansas include the Sprint Nextel Corporation (with operational headquarters in Overland Park), Embarq (with national headquarters in Overland Park), and Payless Shoes (National headquarters and major distribution facilities in Topeka). Also, Pizza Hut was founded in Wichita, KS.
Kansas is served by two Interstate highways with two spur routes, three bypasses, and one beltway over a total of 874 miles. The first section of Interstate in the nation was opened on I-70 just west of Topeka on November 14, 1956. I-70 is a major east/west route connecting to St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, in the east and Denver, Colorado, in the west. Cities along this route (from east to west) include Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Junction City, Salina, Hays, and Colby. I-35 is a major north/south route connecting to Des Moines, Iowa, in the north and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the south. Cities along this route (from north to south) include Kansas City (and suburbs), Ottawa, Emporia, El Dorado, and Wichita.
Spur routes serve as connections between the two major routes. I-135, a north/south route, connects I-70 at Salina to I-35 at Wichita. I-335, a northeast/southwest route, connects I-70 at Topeka to I-35 at Emporia. I-335 and portions of I-35 and I-70 make up the Kansas Turnpike. Bypasses include I-470 around Topeka and I-235 around Wichita. I-435 is a beltway around the Kansas City Metropolitan Area while I-635 bypasses through Kansas City, Kansas.
US Route 69 runs north and south, from Minnesota to Texas. The highway passes through the eastern section of Kansas, from the Kansas City area, through Fort Scott, Frontenac, Pittsburg, and Baxter Springs before entering Oklahoma.
In January 2004, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced the new Kansas 511 traveler information service. By dialing 511, callers will get access to information about road conditions, construction, closures, detours and weather conditions for the state highway system. Weather and road condition information is updated every 15 minutes. The elaborate and efficient transportation system in Kansas has attracted praise from experts nationwide, including the former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, who frequents Kansas roadways.
Law and government
State and local politics
The top executives of the state are Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson. Both officials are elected on the same ticket to a maximum of two consecutive 4-year terms. Parkinson replaced John E. Moore who served as Lt. Governor during Sebelius's first term which ended on January 8, 2007. Sebelius will not be up for re-election in 2010. The state's Attorney General is Democrat Paul Morrison, a former Republican who was first elected in 2006.
The legislative branch of the state government is the Kansas Legislature. The bicameral body consists of the Kansas House of Representatives, with 125 members serving two year terms, and the Kansas Senate, with 40 members serving four year terms.
Kansas has a reputation as a progressive state with many firsts in legislative initiatives—it was the first state to institute a system of workers compensation (1910). Kansas was also one of the first states to permit women's suffrage in 1912. Suffrage in all states would not be guaranteed until ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The council-manager government was adopted by many larger Kansas cities in the years following World War I while many American cities were being run by political machines or organized crime. Kansas was also at the center of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, a 1954 Supreme Court decision that banned racially segregated schools throughout the U.S.
Since the 1960s, Kansas has grown more socially conservative. The 1990s brought new restrictions on abortion, the defeat of prominent Democrats, including Dan Glickman, and the Kansas State Board of Education's 1999 decision to eliminate the theory of evolution from the state teaching standards, a decision that was later reversed. In 2005, voters accepted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The next year, the state passed a law setting a minimum age for marriage at 15 years.
Although Kansas is considered to be one of the most Republican states in the nation, there has been a long-running feud between the socially moderate (or "mainstream") faction and the socially conservative faction of the party. This battle is so heated that it is often said that there are three parties in Kansas--Democrats, moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans. It is possible for a Democrat to win by winning the support of moderate Republicans and a few registered independents. Thus, recently, Kansas has been warming to Democrats, electing a Democrat Governor, Kathleen Sebelius in 2006, with 58% of the vote, as well as Democrat Paul Morrison (a former Republican) as replacement for incumbent Attorney General Phill Kline. Democrats also picked up six seats in the Kansas House of Representatives, and Democrat Nancy Boyda defeated Congressman Jim Ryun in the 2nd Congressional District.
The state's current delegation to the Congress of the United States includes Republican Senators Sam Brownback of Manhattan and Pat Roberts of Dodge City and Representatives Jerry Moran of Hays (District 1), Nancy Boyda of Topeka (District 2), Dennis Moore of Lenexa (District 3), and Todd Tiahrt of Goddard (District 4). Boyda and Moore are Democrats; Moran and Tiahrt are Republicans. Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt won his first term as President in the wake of the Great Depression.
Kansas has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964,when Lyndon B. Johnson won the state's electoral vote, and Republican candidates have carried Kansas in every election except one since 1940. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state's 6 electoral votes by an overwhelming margin of 25 percentage points with 62% of the vote. The only two counties to support Democrat John Kerry were Wyandotte, which contains Kansas City, and Douglas, which contains the college town of Lawrence.
The legal drinking age in Kansas is 21. In lieu of the state retail sales tax, a 10% Liquor Drink Tax is collected for liquor consumed on the licensed premises and an 8% Liquor Enforcement Tax is collected on retail purchases. Although the sale of cereal malt beverage (also known as 3.2 beer) was legalized in 1937, the first post-Prohibition legalization of alcoholic liquor did not occur until the state's constitution was amended in 1948. The following year the Legislature enacted the Liquor Control Act which created a system of regulating, licensing, and taxing, and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) was created to enforce the act. The power to regulate cereal malt beverage remains with the cities and counties. Liquor-by-the-drink did not become legal until passage of an amendment to the state's constitution in 1986 and additional legislation the following year. As of November 2004, Kansas still has 32 dry counties and only 15 counties have passed liquor-by-the-drink with no food sales requirement. Today there are more than 2600 liquor and 4000 cereal malt beverage licensees in the state.
Important cities and towns
Kansas has 627 incorporated cities. By state statute, cities are divided into three classes as determined by the population obtained "by any census of enumeration". A city of the third class has a population of less than 5,000, but cities reaching a population of more than 2,000 may be certified as a city of the second class. The second class is limited to cities with a population of less than 25,000, and upon reaching a population of more than 15,000, they may be certified as a city of the first class. First and second class cities are independent of any township and not included within the township's territory.
The northeastern portion of the state has a rich history and is home to more than 1.1 million people in the Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, and St. Joseph metropolitan areas. In the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the cities of Johnson County have some of the fastest growing populations and highest median incomes in the state and the entire country. Overland Park, a young city incorporated in 1960, has the largest population and the largest land area in the county. It is home to Johnson County Community College, the state's largest community college, and the corporate campus of Sprint Nextel, the largest private employer in the metro area. In 2006 the city was ranked as the 6th best place to live in America; the neighboring city of Olathe was 13th. Olathe is the county seat and home to Johnson County Executive Airport. The cities of Olathe, Shawnee, and Gardner have some of the state's fastest growing populations. The cities of Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe, and Gardner are also notable because they lie along the former route of the Santa Fe Trail. Among cities with at least one thousand residents, Mission Hills has the highest median income in the state.
Several institutions of higher education are in the area including MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas City Kansas Community College and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, and KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Less than an hour's drive to the west, Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas, the largest public university in the state, and Haskell Indian Nations University.
To the north, Kansas City, Kansas, with the second largest land area in the state, contains a number of diverse ethnic neighborhoods. Its attractions include Kansas Speedway, the Woodlands, and Kansas City T-Bones. Further up the Missouri River, the city of Lansing is home of the state's first maximum-security prison. Historic Leavenworth, founded in 1854, was the first incorporated city in Kansas. North of the city, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River. The city of Atchison was an early commercial center in the state and is well-known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart.
To the west, nearly a quarter million people reside in the Topeka metropolitan area. Topeka is the state capital and home to Washburn University. Built at a Kansas River crossing along the old Oregon Trail, this historic city has several nationally registered historic places. Further westward along Interstate 70 and the Kansas River is Junction City with its historic limestone and brick buildings and nearby Fort Riley, well-known as the home to the "Big Red One". A short distance away, the city of Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, the second largest public university in the state and the nation's oldest land-grant university, dating back to 1863. South of the campus, Aggieville dates back to 1889 and is the state's oldest shopping district of its kind.
In south-central Kansas, the four-county Wichita metropolitan area is home to nearly 600,000 people. Wichita is the largest city in the state in terms of both land area and population. 'The Air Capital' is a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry and the home of Wichita State University.
With a number of nationally registered historic places, museums, and other entertainment destinations, it has a desire to become a cultural mecca in the Midwest. Although Wichita's population growth has been anemic in recent years, surrounding suburbs are among the fastest growing cities in the state. The population of Goddard has grown by more than 11% per year since 2000. Other fast-growing cities include Andover, Park City, Augusta, Derby, and Haysville.
Up river (the Arkansas River) from Wichita is the city of Hutchinson. The city was built on one of the world's largest salt deposits, and it has the world's largest and longest wheat elevator. It is also the home of Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and Prairie Dunes Country Club. North of Wichita along Interstate 135 is the city of Newton, the former western terminal of the Santa Fe Railroad and trailhead for the famed Chisholm Trail. To the southeast of Wichita are the cities of Winfield and Arkansas City with historic architecture and the Cherokee Strip Museum (in Ark City). The city of Udall was the site of the deadliest tornado in Kansas on May 25, 1955; it killed 80 people in and near the city. To the southwest of the largest city in the state is Freeport, the state's smallest incorporated city (population 8).
Around the state
Located midway between Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita in the heart of the Bluestem Region of the Flint Hills, the city of Emporia has several nationally registered historic places and is the home of Emporia State University, well-known for its Teachers College. It was also the home of newspaper man William Allen White.
Southeast Kansas has a unique history with a number of nationally registered historic places in this coal-mining region. Located in Crawford County (dubbed the Fried Chicken Capital of Kansas), Pittsburg is the largest city in the region and the home of Pittsburg State University. The neighboring city of Frontenac in 1888 was the site of the worst mine disaster in the state in which an underground explosion killed 47 miners. "Big Brutus" is located a mile and a half outside the city of West Mineral. Along with the restored fort, historic Fort Scott has a national cemetery designated by President Lincoln in 1862.
Central and North-Central Kansas
Salina is the largest city in central and north-central Kansas. South of Salina is the small city of Lindsborg with its numerous Dala horses. Much of the architecture and decor of this town has a distinctly Swedish style. To the east along Interstate 70, the historic city of Abilene was formerly a trailhead for the Chisholm Trail and was the boyhood home of President Eisenhower. To the west is Lucas, the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.
Westward along the Interstate, the city of Russell, traditionally the beginning of sparsely-populated northwest Kansas, is the home of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and the boyhood home of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. The city of Hays is home to Fort Hays State University and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, and is the largest city in the northwest with a population of around 20,000. Two other landmarks are located in smaller towns in Ellis County: the "Cathedral of the Plains" is located 10 miles east of Hays in Victoria, and the boyhood home of Walter Chrysler is 15 miles west of Hays in Ellis. West of Hays, population drops dramatically, even in areas along I-70, and only two towns containing populations of more than 3,000: Colby and Goodland, which are located 35 milies apart along I-70.
Southwest Kansas, and Dodge City in particular, is famously known for the cattle drive days of the late 19th century. The city of Dodge was built along the old Santa Fe Trail route. The city of Liberal is located along the southern Santa Fe Trail route. The first wind farm in the state was built east of Montezuma. Garden City has the Lee Richardson Zoo.
Education in Kansas is governed primarily by the Kansas State Board of Education (web). On August 9, 2005, the Board approved a draft of science curriculum standards that mandated equal time for the theories of "evolution" and "intelligent design" This echoes a previous decision in Kansas. In 1999, the Board ruled that instruction about evolution, the age of the earth, and the origin of the universe was permitted, but not mandatory, and that those topics would not appear on state standardized tests. However, the Board reversed this decision February 14, 2001, ruling that instruction of all those topics was mandatory and that they would appear on standardized tests.
Professional sports teams
Kansas City T-Bones (baseball), Wichita Wranglers (baseball), Wichita Thunder (Hockey), Dodge City Legend (basketball), (Salina) Kansas Cagerz (basketball). All teams listed are minor-league teams.
Although there are no major professional sports league teams within Kansas itself, many Kansans support the sports teams of Kansas City, Missouri, including the Kansas City Royals (MLB), the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), the Kansas City Wizards (MLS) and the Kansas City Brigade (AFL). All three teams except the Brigade, play at the Truman Sports Complex, located about 10 miles from the Kansas-Missouri state line. However, the Wizards are considering relocating to a new stadium or complex in Johnson County. The Kansas City Brigade play at the Kemper Arena. Persons in western Kansas may sometimes support the major league teams in Denver, and those areas close to the Colorado state line have large pockets of fans of the NFL's Denver Broncos. A number of people who live close to the Oklahoma state line support the Dallas Cowboys.
Two major auto racing facilities are situated in Kansas. The Kansas Speedway located in Kansas City hosts races of the NASCAR, IRL, and ARCA circuits. Also, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) holds drag racing events at Heartland Park Topeka, situated in Topeka.
Amelia Earhart (aviation pioneer), Carrie Nation (temperance activist), former President Eisenhower, former Vice President Charles Curtis, and former presidential candidates Bob Dole and Alf Landon called Kansas their home. NASA astronauts Ronald Evans, Joe Engle, and Steve Hawley also lived in Kansas.
Despite its strong agricultural reputation, Kansas was home to industrial and intellectual pioneers Walter Chrysler of automotive fame, Clyde Cessna & Lloyd Stearman (aviation), Jack Kilby (microchip inventor, The Nobel Prize Winner in Physics 2000), George Washington Carver (educator and scientist), Earl W. Sutherland, Jr. (The Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine 1971), and Vernon L. Smith (The Nobel Prize Winner in Economics 2002).
Kansas was also home to Samuel Ramey (Opera Singer), Joyce Castle (Opera Singer),Deborah Lee Green (Opera Singer), Louise Brooks (actress), Annette Benning (actress), Steve Balderson (film director), John Brown (abolitionist), Langston Hughes (poet), Gordon Parks (photographer, movie director, musician, author), William Inge (writer), Dennis Hopper (actor), Coleman Hawkins (Jazz musician), Martina McBride (Country Singer), Melissa Etheridge (musician), Kirstie Alley (actress), Paul Rudd (actor), Charlie Parker (Jazz musician), Jeff Probst (Survivor host), Survivor: Guatemala winner Danni Boatwright, Phil Stacey (American Idol Finalist) and William Allen White (editor).
Famous athletes from Kansas include Wilt Chamberlain, Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, John H. Outland, Billy Mills, Jim Ryun, Walter Johnson, Jackie Stiles, Caroline Bruce, John Riggins, Maurice Greene, and Lynette Woodard. Kansas is also home to coaches James Naismith, Phog Allen, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Tex Winter and Eddie Sutton.
No discussion of notable Kansas residents would be complete without mentioning the more famous fictional residents: Marshal Matt Dillon from the TV Show Gunsmoke, Dennis Mitchell (Dennis the Menace), Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and Clark Kent/Superman are examples of some of the more famous fictional Kansas residents.
The John Brown museum is located in Osawatomie.
The boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Library, and his grave are located in Abilene.
Abilene is the ending point of the Chisholm Trail where the cattle driven from Texas were loaded onto rail cars.
The house of Carrie Nation, now a museum, is located in Medicine Lodge.
Constitution Hall in Lecompton is the location where the Kansas Territorial Government convened and drafted a pro-slavery constitution.
The Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego features Dorothy's House, a recreation of the farm house featured in the film The Wizard of Oz.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, located in Hutchinson, is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute. The museum features the largest collection of artifacts from the Russian Space Program outside of Moscow. It is also home to Apollo 13, an SR-71 Blackbird, and many space artifacts.
The award-winning Kansas Museum of History is the state museum, and is located in the capital city of Topeka.
The world's largest ball of twine (disputed), created August 15, 1953, in Cawker City.