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137 Eastbound Most of you who are entering Kansas from Colorado will have recently experienced the majestic Rocky Mountains. It has been said the Rockies will take your breath away, but the pleasant, peaceful landscapes of Kansas will give it back to you again. We hope that you will catch your breath as you drive across Kansas. 1 The High Point Exit 1 marks the town of Kanorado. South of Kanorado is the highest point in Kansas—Mount Sunflower, with an elevation of 4,039 feet above sea level. These next few miles will be the high point of your trip along I-70, at least in terms of elevation. From a peak of 3,910 feet at mile 3.7, travel east is all downhill; you will drop more than 3,000 feet by the time you get to Kansas City. 2 The High Plains Kansas consists of eleven distinct regions, each differing in elevation , vegetation, precipitation, topography, wildlife, and history. You will pass through four of these regions if you travel I-70 across the entire state. To the surprise of most people—and in spite of what you may have heard—none of these four regions is flat. You have entered Kansas in the High Plains region, which covers the western third of the state. This is the largest, highest, and driest region in Kansas. It receives only between 16 and 20 inches of precipitation per year, and the elevation ranges from about 4,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado-Kansas border to 2,000 feet at the eastern edge of the region. The High Plains have a reputation for being windy and for having extreme temperatures (both cold and hot) that can fluctuate wildly, sometimes changing by 60 degrees in twenty-four hours. 3 Sunny Sherman County Known as the Mountain Climate Capital of Kansas, Sherman County has an average humidity of only about 27 percent, with 300 days of sunshine per year. This abundant sunshine provides the solar energy that is converted by crops into food energy and 138 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s stored in the grain that grows in the bountiful fields you will drive past. When you eat a piece of bread or corn, you are eating a bit of sunshine, getting your energy from solar energy that traveled 93 million miles to a place like Sherman County, Kansas, and then to your table. Sherman County receives only about 16 inches of precipitation annually, so the streams here are usually nothing more than dry gullies, or washes. As you crossed the Middle Fork of Beaver Creek, you probably noticed that it is dry. But the gullies on both sides of I-70 offer proof that the rivers occasionally run; these gullies were created by water washing away the soil when the area has a “gully washer” of a thunderstorm. The name Beaver Creek indicates that at one time, there was a steady supply of water here to support beavers. Sherman County was established in 1869 and named in honor of General William T. Sherman, a Civil War hero and prominent of- ficer in the US Army. In the late 1800s, Kansas was called the Great Soldier State because so many Civil War veterans settled here. In fact, there were more Grand Army of the Republic members per capita in Kansas than in any other state. No wonder that forty-six Kansas counties are named for Civil War soldiers, most of whom died in battle. 5 Goodland Just ahead is Goodland, the seat of Sherman County. Early on, towns would compete to become the county seat. Read the story of how Goodland won that competition at 26W (p. 127). 6 Official Kansas Welcome! At the Travel Information Center ahead, you can receive not only tourism information but also a free cup of coffee and a warm welcome . The Kansas flag will be waving in the wind (we can almost guarantee the wind), and you can get a close-up view of the state seal, both of which are described in the introduction (p. ix). 7 Ruleton: “The Rock and a Coop” The tall structures along the railroad to your left comprise a Frontier Ag elevator that stores grain from area farms. You will see many grain elevators in the miles ahead. For clarity, we refer to the entire cluster of structures as the “elevator.” A...