Retrace the drama of freedom’s struggles and triumphs in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. Spread across 29 Kansas counties (and 12 in our neighboring state to the east), more than 200 museums and heritage sites highlight their roles in the Kansas-Missouri Border War and the shaping of the frontier. For starters, survey history along the 168-mile Frontier Military Historic Byway that follows a military supply line south from Fort Leavenworth. Branch out to museums and sites that explore the Underground Railroad, native tribes, overland trails and the battles to influence Kansas’ future.
Constitution Hall State Historic Site - Lecompton
Hear stories of the tense 1857 pre-Civil War confrontation when the newly elected free-state majority protested the proslavery constitutional convention meeting here. The issue that riveted the nation: whether Kansas territory would join the United States as a slave or free state.
First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site - Fort Riley
Territorial capitol for only five days in 1855, the limestone building still stands to tell its story. Strategically built away from Missouri’s proslavery influences, the capitol is where the legislature planned to choose a permanent seat, create a constitution and decide the slavery issue. Instead, the proslavery legislature adjourned to Shawnee Mission closer to the border.
Kansas Museum of History - Topeka
This collection of all things Kansas spans from native peoples and historic trails to more recent relics. Time travel past a Cheyenne tepee, a Wichita grass lodge, an 1880s steam engine and a 1914 biplane. Outdoors, trek the 2½-mile nature trail.
Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum - Kansas City
In the former Vernon Elementary School of Quindaro, learn the story of the Quindaro Townsite, established along the Missouri River by abolitionists in 1856 as a free-state port of entry and sanctuary for runaway slaves. Trace their perilous journey to freedom through photos and artifacts.
Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site - Fairway
Where children from Shawnee, Delaware and other nations once attended school, learn about the Shawnee tribe and other early Kansans. Three original 19th-century buildings remain at this National Historic Landmark, which also served as a territorial capitol, supply point on the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, and Union soldiers’ Civil War encampment.
Venture onward to discover more historic sites and time-traveling experiences in the 2022 Official Kansas Travel Guide.