90 Interesting Facts About Kansas

Fun facts about Kansas

Learn about the “Sunflower State” with these up-to-date, interesting, and fun facts about Kansas, USA!

Kansas has given the word White Castle, Pizza Hut, and Icee drinks. But what else is Kansas famous for?

General Kansas Facts

1. Kansas is a landlocked state in the southwestern corner of the Midwestern United States.

2. The geographical center of the contiguous US (Lower 48 States) is in Kansas. A historical marker consisting of a flag and a limestone shaft) marks the spot a few miles northwest of Lebanon on Highway 281.

3. Kansas is the 15th largest state in the US, with a total land area of 82,278 mi² (213,100 km²). It sits between Idaho and Nebraska in terms of size.

4. The state is about twice as large as Iceland or South Korea.

5. Kansas borders Nebraska to the north, Missouri to the east, Oklahoma to the south, and Colorado to the west.

6. The state is the traditional homeland of the Caddoan Wichita and Siouan Kaw people. Today, indigenous people make up only 1% of the population.

7. Today, the state has four main native reservations: the Sac and Fox, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, and the Iowa.

Capitol building, old clock, and street sign that says "Kansas" in Topeka city
Topeka, the capital of Kansas

8. With a population of just under 3 million, Kansas is the 16th least populous state in the nation, sitting between Mississippi and New Mexico in terms of population.

9. Topeka is the capital city of Kansas. Its name means “place where we dig potatoes” in the Kansa-Osage language. It has a population of 127,000.

10. There are four other cities in Kansas larger than Topeka: Wichita (400,000, 49th largest in the US), Overland Park (200,000), Kansas City (156,000), and Olathe (141,000).

11. Kansas City, Kansas, is a small part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, shared between Kansas and Missouri but anchored on the Missouri side. With 2.19 million people, it is the 31st largest population center in the US.

12. Kansas is named after the Native American tribe Kansa, otherwise known as Kaws. Their name means “people of the south wind”.

A Kansas USA stamp showing a wheat farm, sunflowers, and the word Kansas
Kansas is famous for its sunflowers and wheat

13. The state is nicknamed “the Wheat State.” Kansas is the top wheat producer in the US, making over 330,000 bushels per year, more than Montana, Oklahoma, and Idaho combined.  

14. Kansas is also nicknamed the “Sunflower State”, as the sunflower is the official state flower and can be found in every county. Mount Sunflower is also the state’s tallest mountain.

15. Other nicknames for Kansas have included “Garden of the West”, “The Central State”, and “The Grasshopper State.”

16. Slogans about Kansas have included “To the stars”, “There’s no place like Kansas”, “Not everything is flat”, “As big as you think”, “Halfway to everywhere”, “Land of Ahhs”, and “Stupid is the new smart”.

17. The state motto of Kansas is “ad astra per aspera“, Latin for “through difficulties to the stars”.

18. KS is the abbreviation of Kansas.

A wooden sign in Kansas marking the geographical center of the US
The geographical center of the Lower 48 States

19. Kansas residents are called Kansans or “Jayhawkers”, a term that dates back to free staters who opposed slavery in Kansas prior to the Civil War.

20. The official Kansas state flag is dark blue, with the state seal aligned in the center. Over the seal sits a yellow and blue bar symbolizing the Louisiana Purchase that Kansas was a part of. Above the bars sits a sunflower, a symbol of the state.

21. The state seal features the following: a rising sun representing the east, a steamboat and river representing commerce, a settler driving plow horses and a cabin representing agriculture and prosperity, a herd of American bison being pursued by two Native Americans on horseback, while oxen draw a wagon train west in the distance. In the sky are 34 stars representing Kansas as the 34th state admitted to the Union, with the state motto above the stars.

Flag of the state of Kansas
The Kansas state flag

22. The Kansas license plate shows part of the state seal. Past plates have shown the state capitol and wheat (the latter one was award-winning for its beautiful design). In the distant past, slogans included on the plate included “Wheat Centennial,” “Midway USA,” and “The Wheat State.”

23. Some popular quotes about Kansas are “Kansas had better stop raising corn and begin raising hell”, “Kansas is indispensable to the joy, the inspiration, and the improvement of the world” and “When I think of Kansas, I think of family.”

24. The state mammal of Kansas is the buffalo, which is also the state animal of Oklahoma, Wyoming, and the province of Manitoba in Canada.

Random Facts About Kansas

25. Kansas is on the fringe of the area considered to be the Bible Belt. 86% of the population identified as Christians.

26. From the Kansas Four State Lookout in White Cloud, one can see a panoramic view of four states: Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa) and the Missouri River Valley.

Looking out over the Missouri River toward downtown Kansas City
The Missouri River in Kansas City, which spans Kansas and Missouri states

27. The Missouri River, longest in the US, forms the northeastern border of Kansas with Missouri. In Kansas City, it meets with the Kansas River.

28. The state is, in fact, flatter than a pancake. Legitimate scientific research has proven that the rumors are indeed true. It is on the eastern edge of the Great Plains.

29. Farmland covers over 88% of Kansas’s total land area. Only Texas and Montana have more farmland.

30. Kansans pronounce the Arkansas River, which flows through their state, as “Ar-Kansas”.

31. Kansas has no national parks, no UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 28 state parks. However, 0.06% of the land is protected, the lowest percentage of any state in the US.

An aerial view of a rock tower called Castle Rock in the Kansas plains with a road going around it
Castle Rock, Kansas

32. Kansas’ state parks are known for their hiking opportunities (Kanopolis Lake, El Dorado, Cross Timbers), water activities (Turtle Creek, Cheney, Kaw River), and campgrounds (Lake Scott, Cedar Bluff).

33. Kansas has over 500 caves, but most are inaccessible. In fact, 128 of those caves are found in one county: Comanche.

34. Kansas has 26 National Historic Landmarks, including a variety of historic homes, battlefields, archaeological sites, forts, an oil well, and even a historic Carousel, the Parker Carousel.

35. Kansas had some of the first stops on the Pony Express, the first mail service route across the US, which went from Missouri to California.  

36. Kansas has the most tornadoes of any state after Texas, with 88 per year on average.

Old yellow sign for the Pony Express showing a courier riding a horse
The Pony Express route once ran through Kansas

37. The highest temperatures recorded in Kansas were 121°F (49.4°C) in Fredonia on July 18, 1936, and in Alton on July 24, 1936. Lebanon’s lowest was -40°F (-40°C) on February 13, 1905. The state is known for having freezing winters and scorching summers.

38. Kansas’s highest point is 4039 ft (1231 m) at Mount Sunflower, while its lowest point is 679 ft (207 m) at the Verdigris River.

39. The windiest city in the country is Dodge City, Kansas. Its average wind speed is 14 mph (22.5 km/hr).

40. The largest natural gas field in the US is found in Kansas. The Hugoton Gas Field is approximately 8500 mi2 (22,015 km2), nearly five times the size of Rhode Island.

Three famous brands that started in Kansas
Famous brands that started in Kansas: White Spot, Pizza Hut, and ICEE

41. White Castle, the fast food chain famous for its “sliders,” began in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921, becoming the world’s first fast food chain.

42. ICEE, a frozen slushy drink, was invented in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1958. A Dairy Queen branch owner named Omar Knedlik placed soda in the cooler when the soda machine was broken, and the bottles turned slushy when opened. He later partnered with a company to make a machine that could slushify soda.

43. In the same year, 1958, Pizza Hut was founded in Wichita, Kansas, by brothers Dan and Frank Carney. It is now headquartered in Texas.

44. Famous Kansans include Eagles singer Joe Walsh, singer Melissa Etheridge, politician Bob Dole, and serial killer Dennis Rader.

45. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the US, was born in Texas but raised in Abilene, Kansas.

A mosaic of famous people from Kansas
Famous Kansans Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Dole, Joe Walsh, and Melissa Etheridge (clockwise from top-left)

46. Wichita-born Robert D. Ballard discovered the Titanic shipwreck.

47. The first black Academy Award-winning actress was Wichita-born Hattie McDaniel, who won the award for the role she played in “Gone with the Wind”.

48. Two Kansans have won the TV series Survivor: Danni Boatwright and Earl Cole.

49. Helium was first discovered at the University of Kansas in 1905.

50. In the late 1800s, Kansas resident Adam Strowger invented the dial telephone. He invented it to allow people to contact each other directly rather than through an operator connecting the call. Other people had the same idea, but Adam was the first to create a working model.

The Kansas Cosmosphere
Kansas is known for its flight and aerospace industry

51. Although basketball was invented in Massachusetts, Kansas was one of the first states to adopt it as a college sport.  

52. In 1909, Charles Wilson and William Purvis built one of the precursors to the modern helicopter in Goodland, Kansas.

53. Pluto was discovered by the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who grew up in Burdette, Kansas.

54. Wichita, Kansas, has been called the “Air Capital of the World.” 35% of all American planes are made there.

55. The first woman to be granted a pilot’s license and fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean was Amelia Earhart of Atchison, Kansas.

A circular building in downtown Wichita, Kansas
Century II Performing Arts Center in Wichita

56. The largest easel in the world is found in Goodland, Kansas. There’s a massive replica of Vincent Van Gough’s sunflower painting on the 40,000-pound, 80-foot steel easel.

57. The largest grain elevator in the world was once found in DeBruce near Wichita. It could store 20 million bushels of grain. It exploded on June 8, 1998, killing seven people.

58. Kansas has some unusual laws. For example, in Topeka, it’s against the law to scream in a haunted house or to sing or whistle in the streets at night. Snowball fights are also technically illegal there.

59. If you’re in Derby and a vending machine steals your money, control the urge to hit the vending machine. If you do, you could go to jail for it.

60. In Wellington, it’s against the law to have more than four cats – sorry, cat lovers!

61. Despite being found in the middle of the US, with no coastline anywhere in sight, there’s a law against hunting whales in Kansas.

Historical Facts About Kansas

62. During the time of the dinosaurs, Kansas was covered by a shallow sea.

63. Native peoples arrived in the state at least 9000 years ago.

64. El Cuartelejo in Kansas is the northernmost Indian pueblo in the US. There’s now a museum dedicated to it in Scott City.

A wall of native stone in Kansas
Native Stone Wall made from native stone used for early building in Kansas

65. The Wichita people founded the city of Etzanoa in Kansas in 1450. It was once home to some 20,000 people.

66. In 1541, the first European arrived in Kansas: Spanish Francisco de Vasquez Coronado. The explorer went in search of legendary cities of gold, which he didn’t find. When he arrived, it was the first time Plains Indians had seen horses.

67. The Kansa and Osage people arrived in the 1600s and came to dominate the region.

68. In 1682, the Frenchman Robert Cavelier de Las Salle came to the Kansas region and claimed control of the land for France.

69. Kansas was purchased by the US from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

A covered wagon in Kansas
A settler’s wagon in Kansas

70. In 1804, American explorers Lewis and Clark explored the newly acquired territory by traveling through the Kansas region.

71. In 1827, Fort Leavenworth became the first permanent European settlement in Kansas.

72. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854. The act was passed after settlers from northern and southern states arrived in Kansas and fought over whether slavery should be legal in the territory of Kansas. The violent period is called “Bleeding Kansas” and was partly responsible for the start of the Civil War.

73. Many native peoples from the area were moved south to what is now Oklahoma prior to the act to make room for the settlers.

74. Kansas outlawed slavery in 1859. At the same time, it was fighting the “Indian Wars” against native people on the plains.

A black and white photo of freed slaves in Kansas in the 1880s
A colony of freed slaves in Kansas

75. Kansas became the 34th state when it joined the Union on January 29, 1861.

76. Construction began on the Kansas Pacific railway line in 1869. Texas would later conduct cattle drives north to Kansas, where they could be put on trains to deliver to the east.

77. In 1881, Kansas became the first state to prohibit all alcoholic drinks.

78. The nation’s first female mayor was Susan Madora Salter of Argonia, Kansas, in 1887.

79. In 1892, the Norman No. 1 Oil Well was drilled in Kansas, kicking off an oil book in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.

80. Twelve years before the 19th Amendment of 1912, women had full voting rights in Kansas.

Restored Old West building in Kansas
Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City preserves a slice of the Old West

81. Wichita’s aircraft manufacturing history goes all the way back to 1900, three years before the Wright Brothers made their historic flight.

82. The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case that found racial segregation in schools unconstitutional.

83. The first Civil Rights movement lunch-counter sit-in occurred in Wichita, Kansas, at the Dockum Drug Store in 1958.

84. In the 1950s and 60s, a dozen ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons were stationed in Kansas, part of the 550th Strategic Missile Squadron.

85. The 1966 Topeka tornado caused Kansas $100 million in damage.

A huge circular storm cloud over the plains in Kansas
A storm in Kansas

86. In 1987, the largest hand-dug well in the world was dug up in Greensburg. The Big Well is 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter and was dug using hand tools.

87. It wasn’t until 2005 that Kansas allowed liquor stores to operate on Sundays.

88. In 2007, Greensburg, Kansas, was almost totally destroyed by a tornado.

89. In 2020, the Ioway Tribal National Park was established by the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.

90. The Ioway Tribal National Park will open to the public in 2025. It is part of a growing trend of Tribal National Parks managed by indigenous peoples in the US.

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