Kansas Fun Facts & Trivia

Fire Station No. 4 in Lawrence, originally a stone barn constructed in 1858, was a station site on the Underground Railroad.

The Hugoton Gas Field is the largest natural gas field in the United States. It underlies all or parts of 10 southwestern Kansas counties as well as parts of Oklahoma and Texas, covering some 8,500 square miles, an area nearly 5 times as large as the state of Rhode Island.

Cattle in Abilene, Kansas today

Cattle in Abilene, Kansas today

In the days of Wild Bill Hickok, Abilene, Kansas saw shootings almost daily, such as the wild gunfight in a local bar when one gunman refused the drink of another. Another gunfight occurred when one drunken cowboy rode his horse atop a pool table.

Opened in 1857, Hays House, in Council Grove, is the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.

Kansas has the largest population of prairie chicken wild grouse in North America.

In 1990 Kansas wheat farmers produced enough wheat to make 33 billion loaves of bread, or enough to provide each person on earth with 6 loaves.

Handel’s Messiah has been presented in Lindsborg each at Easter since 1889.

Johnny Kaw, photo courtesy City of Manhattan

Johnny Kaw, photo courtesy City of Manhattan

A 30-foot tall statue of Johnny Kaw stands in the Manhattan City Park. The statue represents the importance of the Kansas wheat farmer.

The Geodetic Center of North America is about 40 miles south of Lebanon at Meade’s Ranch. It is the beginning point of reference for land surveying in North America meaning when a surveyor checks a property line, he or she is checking the position of property in relation to Meade’s Ranch in northwest Kansas.

Between 1854 and 1866, 34 steamboats paddled up the Kaw River (Kansas River). One made it as far west as Fort Riley.

Kansas law requires that if two trains meet on the same track in Kansas, neither shall proceed until the other has passed.

The rocks at Rock City are huge sandstone concretions, which are hard, compact accumulations of mineral matter, usually spherical or disk-shaped and embedded in a host rock of a different composition. In an area about the size of two football fields, 200 rocks, some as large as houses, dot the landscape. There is no other place in the world where there are so many concretions of such giant size.

Cawker City, Kansas lays claims to the world’s largest ball of twine with a 38-foot circumference, weighing almost 17,000 pounds, and still growing.

Nicodemus, Kansas, 1885.

Nicodemus, Kansas, 1885.

By 1880, approximately 40,000 black people had left the South for new lives in Kansas, a wave of emigration known as “the Exodus.”  The “Exodusters” built numerous all African-American towns during this time, only one of which remains today. Nicodemus, Kansas, now a virtual ghost town, has gained recognition as a National Historic Site.

In Hutchison stands a ½ mile-long elevator that contains 1,000 bins and holds 46 million bushels.

In Derby, Kansas, if you hit a vending machine after it stole your money, you are breaking the law.

South of Ashland the Rock Island Bridge spanning the Cimarron River is the longest railroad bridge of its kind, at 1,200 feet in length and 100 feet above the river bed.

The Arkansas River may be the only river whose pronunciation changes as it crosses state lines. In Kansas, it is called the Arkansas (ahr-KAN-zuhs). On both sides of Kansas (Colorado and Oklahoma ), it is called the Arkansaw.

A hailstone weighing more than one and a half pounds once fell on Coffeyville.

In Lawrence it is illegal to wear a bee in your hat.

Alvin Karpis

Alvin Karpis

Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, a notorious outlaw in the 1930s and a member of the Barker gang, was raised in Kansas.

Fort Riley has the distinction of being the location of the only exorcism in U.S. history to be paid for by the military.

The Oregon Trail passed thru six states, including Kansas.

All cars entering the Lawrence city limits must first sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.

Topeka, Kansas was the scene of many a gun battle, but the most bizarre incident occurred in the Kansas House of Representatives where Boston Corbett, the reported killer of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, ran amuck. Corbett threatened to kill several state congressmen for stalling legislation; he finally surrendered his weapon without shooting anyone and was sent to an insane asylum.

The world-famous fast-food chain of Pizza Hut restaurants opened its first store in Wichita.

Kansas in one of two sources of helium in the U.S.

Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell

Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell

There were no Indian attacks reported on the Oregon Trail as the travelers passed through the state.

Catching fish with your bare hands in Kansas is illegal.

The world’s largest hand-dug well is in Greensburg, Kansas.

Silent comedian Buster Keaton, of early film success, was from Piqua, Kansas.

In Overland Park, it is against the law to picket a funeral.

Kansas was the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave African-American men the right to vote.

The hide and head of the first MGM Lion, Leo, is at the McPherson Museum.

On August 21, 1863, William Clark Quantrill and his band of ruthless raiders attacked Lawrence, Kansas in the ongoing Kansas/Missouri Border War that began six years before the start of the Civil War. Burning Lawrence to the ground and killing more than 180 men and boys, the men fled at the sound of approaching Union troops. Frank and Jesse James learned their methods of gunmanship and murder under the command of William Quantrill.

Kansas Sunset

Kansas Sunset

The first national hamburger chain started in Kansas when Walter Anderson opened the first White Castle hamburger restaurant in Wichita in 1921. You can still eat slyders – in Chicago, New York, or St. Louis.

It is illegal to “screech” your tires in Derby.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated July 2020.

Also See:

Kansas Main Page

Legends of Kansas

Ghost Towns and Near Ghosts of Kansas

Kansas Photo Galleries

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