Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oakley in Logan County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Early Exploration across Kansas

 
 
Early Exploration across Kansas Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., November 12, 2012
1. Early Exploration across Kansas Marker
At right side of kiosk panel
Inscription.

For over 300 years -- from 1541 to 1853 -- the role of the military in Kansas was one of discovery.

The first Europeans in what is now Kansas were Spanish soldiers led in 1541 by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. They failed to find cities of gold, but Coronado recognized the richness of the prairie soil and claimed the country for Spain. The French established a claim through the expedition in 1724 of Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont.

The first American exploring party was commanded by Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike in 1806. Kansas was part of the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase. In 1819 the first scientific survey of Kansas was led by Maj. Stephen H. Long. Neither Pike nor Long saw any agricultural value to the Kansas plains. The Kansas plains were commonly referred to as the Great American Desert during this time period.

The first exploration of the Smoky Hill River basin as a means of travel was conducted by John C. Freemont [sic] during the 1840's. The route he explored later became established as the Smoky Hill Trail.

The final exploration, in 1853 was conducted by Capt. J.W. Gunnison of the army's topographical engineers who may have stood right on this spot. He led one of the five government expeditions searching for the best transcontinental railroad route. The path he surveyed here later
Map on Early Exploration across Kansas Marker image. Click for full size.
Wild West Historical Foundation and Kansas Humanities Council, undated
2. Map on Early Exploration across Kansas Marker
became the Kansas-Pacific Railway.
———————
Natural Habitat
Western Kansas is mostly short-grass prairie habitat. The plant life is dominated by blue grama and buffalo grass, but there is a wide variety of wild flowers and shrubs. The prairie was once grazed by herds of buffalo, elk, and pronghorn antelope. It is ideal pasturage for cattle and horses. The short-grass prairie ecosystem supports just as rich a diversity of small animal life: snakes, toads, insects and spiders; eagles, burrowing owls, and other birds; foxes and coyotes; and, of course, villages of prairie dogs.
 
Erected by Wild West Historical Foundation and the Kansas Humanities Council.
 
Location. 39° 7.611′ N, 100° 52.156′ W. Marker is in Oakley, Kansas, in Logan County. Marker is on U.S. 83, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in the kiosk adjacent to the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3083 US Hwy 83, Oakley KS 67748, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Smoky Hill River Valley - Buffalo Country (here, next to this marker); Inhabitants of the Kansas Plains (here, next to this marker); The Monument Rocks (here, next to this marker); Annie Oakley (here, next to this marker); Oakley: Birthplace of the Legend (here, next to this marker); The Great Buffalo Hunt (here, next to this marker); Buffalo Bill Cultural Center (within shouting distance of this marker); Logan County Sandstone (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oakley.
 
Also see . . .
1. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Zebulon Pike. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Stephen H. Long. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. John C. Fremont. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
6. John W. Gunnison Expedition. (Submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. EnvironmentExploration
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 250 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 18, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Paid Advertisement