restricted access Kansas City–Lawrence Area
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Westbound kansas city – lawrence area 423 Lowest Point of the Trip Welcome to Kansas! This is the lowest elevation of your trip across the state. At the mouth of the Kansas River, where it joins the Missouri just to the north, the elevation is 760 feet above sea level. At its highest point, at mile 3.7, Interstate 70 will have climbed to an elevation of 3,910 feet. The elevation change between here and the Colorado line is so gradual that few people perceive the difference. However, I-70 will take you over hills and drop you into valleys along the way, and you will see that, in spite of what you may have heard, Kansas is not really flat. If you drove in from Missouri, you crossed the Kansas River near its junction with the wide Missouri River. These two rivers have played a vital role in Kansas history ever since Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped just north of the spot where you crossed, both on their famous exploration in 1804 and again on their return two years later. 422 Railroads In 1802, Thomas Jefferson predicted, “The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man.” Nowhere was his prediction more correct than in Kansas. Railroads changed everything there! The importance of railroads in determining the Kansas landscape becomes evident here at the beginning of your westbound I-70 trip. The extensive rail yards you see on the left mark the termination for the rail lines that fanned out to the west and southwest. Railroads moved people across Kansas and carried Kansas resources and products to distant markets. Today, building material, equipment , and supplies from industries in the East are taken across the state and beyond. Coming back from the West, trains are mostly 1 2 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s transporting grain, that marvelous Kansas resource that is renewed every year. Grain comes to Kansas City in gondola and hopper railcars to be unloaded at a trackside elevator, one of the tall structures visible across the valley; there, it is elevated by a conveyor to the top of the structure. The grain then flows by gravity into one of the tall round bins that are lined up side by side to form the grain elevator. As you travel westward, you will see many elevators where grain is stored in clusters of bins until it is moved to be processed into food. The significance of the railroad cannot be overstated. For fifty years up until the 1920s, when autos and paved highways finally crossed the country, every facet of life was affected by the railroad. As you will see ahead, the location of the railroads determined which towns lived and which towns died. The rails stimulated commerce and brought people together. 420 Kansas City, Kansas Although it is not easily identified, you are now in Kansas City, Kansas . This is not the biggest or most populated city in the state. In fact, it ranks third in population behind the cities of Wichita and Overland Park, a suburb south of this location. The reason most people think this is the largest city in Kansas is that they consider the whole metropolitan area, over half of which is actually in another state, comprising the other Kansas City—Kansas City, Missouri . In August 1806, Lewis and Clark described the area where the Kansas and Missouri Rivers meet—the location of Kansas City. As they saw it, the river junction was a perfect place to construct a trading house or a fort. No immediate action was taken by the recipients of Lewis and Clark’s news though. Indeed, it was not until 1868 that several businessmen organized the Kansas City, Kansas, Town Company. By 1885, the town was thriving, and it began to sprawl westward. Learn more about Kansas City at 412E (p. 243). 418 Wyandotte County You are traveling in Wyandotte County, named for the Wyandot Indians. After the Wyandots ceded their Ohio lands to the US government , they moved to occupy land in the territory they thought the Shawnees had sold to them. But the Shawnees repudiated the 3 w e s t b o u n d agreement, and the Wyandots soon found themselves strangers in a strange land. They set up camp on a government-owned strip...