Guest Author - Amanda Masoner
For those of us not from the state of Kansas there is much to learn. There is more to this lovely, plains-covered state than just Dorothy and Toto! Nope-the “Sunflower State” demands that we dig a bit deeper and learn about its roots.
Let’s start with its name-Kansas. This originally came from the Kaw Indians. They were known as “the people of the south wind”. They, and several other tribes, roamed solo on these plains until the first noted outsider came to call. His name was Francisco Coronado and he showed up in 1541. He came looking for gold but found none. Instead he was impressed the land’s fertility. The area was sold back and forth between the Spanish and the French until it was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
In 1861 it became the 34th state to join the union. Topeka was eventually named the state capital.
Since it’s tumultuous, and sometimes spartan, past it has grown into a state wielding a population of 2,764,075.
The smallest town is called Selden, coming in with a whopping 201 residents!
Wichita blows away the competition for largest city with an impressive 344,284 inhabitants.
Due to some negative reports of dry soil from the explorers Pike and Long, there wasn’t much migration into the state by settlers. The Indians were relocated to the eastern portion of Kansas right before the Santa Fe Trail was opened up. For 50 years this trail was a necessity for doing commerce with the West. And with a history like this it is no wonder the state’s song is “Home on the Range”.
The western meadowlark is known as the state’s representative bird and it takes its job quite seriously.
The busy honeybee is the state’s insect-which must help keep all those sunflowers going.
If the abundance of cottonwoods is the reason for it being dubbed the state tree, then I applaud those living in Kansas for tolerating the large amounts of cotton blown into their screen doors each shedding season!
And if you didn’t know it already, you should know that Kansas is the world leader in aviation. It's not just a coincidence that Amelia Earhart is from here! Kansas is home to a large portion of both the construction and sales of commercial aircraft. When I say large, I mean production of 70% of the world’s general aviation aircraft. Wow! Since most of this construction goes on in Wichita, it makes sense that it would be the population heavyweight of the state!
Speaking of largest-the Wichita Symphony Orchestra is the biggest and most active arts organization in Kansas. It was born in 1944.
I sincerely hope you’ve learned as much as I have on this quest to find out more about Kansas. And just because the average number of tornadoes each year is 56, don’t let that stop you from visiting! Now it seems only fitting that we would finish with a tribute song…everybody!! “Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play. (I hope you’re still singing) Where seldom is heard a discouraging word. And the skies are not cloudy all day!”