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100 N. 5th St.
Leavenworth, KS 66048
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Historic Leavenworth (#21)


From 4th Street (7 Hwy), turn east into the main entrance of the Veteran's Administration. The wayside sits just to the south of the main entrance in Ray Miller Park.

About This Location

Historic Wayside Tour #21
Historic Leavenworth
Welcome to historic Leavenworth, the oldest City in Kansas.

Present day Kansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which provided for the transport of the eastern Indian tribes west of the Mississippi, the territory today known as Kansas was allotted in portions to various nations of Native Americans, including the Wyandotte, Shawnee, Delaware, Potawatomie, Osage, Miami and others from east of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Twenty-four years later, on May 30, 1854, the Kansas Nebraska Act became law and the Territory of Kansas was opened to white settlement. The first Town Association was formed on June 9, 1854. Town lots were sold on October 9th, and by New Year's Day, 1855, Leavenworth boasted 200 inhabitants. The population boomed - by autumn 1856, there were 1,200 citizens, by 1859, there were 5,000, and by 1861, the population was 10,000. The present population is over 39,000.

Leavenworth was a jumping-off point for western travelers in the mid 1800's. The fledgling town represented hope and promise to many pioneers. In many ways, Leavenworth presented a panorama of the people that would eventually explore and settle the West. Here arrived the hopeful, the defeated, the young, the old, the burdened, the honored, and the despised. Some came secure in the knowledge that they would make their fortunes, others were unaware of what awaited them. Few had a realistic idea of the trials that the Great Plains would put them through, or the depth of character that would be required for mere survival. Yet, they saw in this burgeoning river city everything that beckoned them to an unknown future.

They came by river - the ancient method for forming cities - and they came by the new railroads, filling the city with every type of wandering human being - bearded frontiersmen, portly merchants, confidence men, riverboat captains, Indians from the western plains, military families newly arriving and departing. The air reverberated with the shrieks of riverboats and the whistles of trains, the grinding of boxcar wheels, the bellowing of animals, the ringing of school bells, and the happy cries of children at play. Leavenworth, Kansas demonstrated the noisy panoply of a flourishing city, a beehive of frontier activity.

From its beginning, Leavenworth has been connected with famous people and events. Leavenworth served as a major starting point on the California and Oregon Trails. By the time of the Civil War, Leavenworth was the largest city on the Missouri River. Some of the famous names intertwined with the City's history are William T. Sherman, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Buffalo Bill Cody, Carry Nation, Fred Harvey, Blanche K. Bruce, Wallace & Noah Berry, George S. Patton, Jr., and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

So venture further and enjoy the rich history and hospitality of Leavenworth, the First City of Kansas. Historic locations within the city are marked by a series of wayside markers like this one, identifying them as part of either a walking or driving downtown historical tour. The markers are sequential and the next marker in the series will be indicated on the marker itself. Simply walk to the marker, press the button, and hear the story of that historical place, person, or event. The first wayside marker is at the Leavenworth Landing Park behind the Union Depot at Esplanade and Cherokee Streets.

Again, welcome to Leavenworth.


  • Wayside

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