Introduction
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ix Introduction The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. —Saint Augustine The state of Kansas was named after a tribe of Indians called Kansa or Kaw, meaning “People of the South Wind.” This tribe arrived in what is now Kansas around 1720 and settled in temporary villages near the current cities of Leavenworth and Atchison. Later, to be closer to the best bison-hunting grounds, they established their principal village where the Big Blue River joins the Kansas River, near the present city of Manhattan . From 1492 to 1845, land that became Kansas was at various times claimed by six different countries. The first European to see this land was the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who explored the area in search of the Seven Cities of Gold in 1541. French trappers and explorers came to this land in the late 1600s and early 1700s. The United States bought the land that is now Kansas from the French in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Although the state’s name honors the Kaw people, the first explorers to this region found it occupied by the Indians of Quivira, most likely the Wichita tribe and the Pawnee people. However, the Wichita spent most of their time in what is now Oklahoma and Texas. In an era when Spain ruled much of North and South America, Kansas was commonly called Harahey. The people of Harahey were probably Pawnee. Native Americans played a prominent role in the history of Kansas: their heritage and influence will be apparent at many locations along I-70. As you travel along I-70, you will also see the influence of the trails and rails that carried settlers, cattle, and supplies to the West. Moreover , you will see how the issue of whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state resulted in the violent “Bleeding Kansas” period that shaped the history of the eastern portion of the state. Kansas is not crowded. It ranks thirteenth among the states in size but only thirty-fourth in population. That leaves plenty of space for x d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s nature. In fact, the state is home to almost 800 kinds of vertebrates, including 141 species of fish, 32 kinds of amphibians, 14 types of turtles, 53 different reptiles, and 87 kinds of mammals. More than 475 different bird species have been seen in Kansas, and more than 2,000 kinds of plants grow wild here, including 200 types of grasses. You will no doubt notice many of these plants and animals along I-70. Traveling I-70 will be a trip through time as well as a tour across bountiful and beautiful lands. You will be driving along an east-west transportation corridor that has existed since presettlement times. Early pioneers followed the major river systems westward from Kansas City because they provided water for people and livestock and because the river valleys were relatively flat compared with the surrounding hills. I-70 parallels one such trail—the Smoky Hill Trail, which was noteworthy as the quickest route to the Denver goldfields that were discovered in 1858. Nine years later, railroads expanded westward and followed these routes to be close to water and to the wood needed for the ties. You will be paralleling the Rock Island and Union Pacific Railroad lines, which were built in the late 1800s. Federal highways were constructed along the railroad lines to link the towns that sprang up near the rails and rivers. From Kansas City west to Oakley, I-70 follows—and at some points is—historic US 40. From Colby to the Colorado line, I-70 follows old US 24, a federal highway linking Kansas City to Denver. Completed in 1926, US 40 was the nation’s first federally funded coast-to-coast highway. Its original 3,022mile route connected Atlantic City with San Francisco. Unlike the more famous Route 66, US 40 still is formally designated across the country. In the mid-1900s, interstates such as I-70 replaced many state and federal highways. In this case, beginning in 1956, some segments of US 40 were transferred to I-70. So, you will notice on your map that lots of highways and railroads follow routes parallel to one another, often adjacent to rivers—and I-70 is no...



Subject Headings

  • Kansas -- History, Local.
  • Interstate 70 -- Guidebooks.
  • Kansas -- Guidebooks.
  • Automobile travel -- Kansas -- Guidebooks.
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