Liberal Arts Blog — Kansas — a Little Geography, a Little History, Three Cities
Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Random Stuff Day
Today’s Topic: Kansas — a Little Geography, a Little History, Three Cities
Have you ever been to Kansas? I haven’t. Maybe some day. This morning I decided to take a virtual trip. What follows are a few very random notes. Any memories to share? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
BORDERING STATES, NOT AS FLAT AS MANY THINK, RIVERS, FLORA AND FAUNA
1. Nebraska to the north, Missouri to the East, Oklahoma to the South, Colorado to the West.
2. The western two thirds of the state are flat, but the eastern third is hilly and forested and Mount Sunflower (in the west) rises to over 4000 feet.
3. Rivers: Arkansas River Basin (includes Neosho, Cimarron), Missouri River Basin (includes Republican, Saline).
NB: “Nine-banded armadillos, black-tailed jackrabbits, plains pocket gophers, and least shrews are common in Kansas. Reptiles include prairie king snakes, western worm snakes, prairie lizards, and Great Plains skinks. Black vultures, golden eagles, yellow-billed cuckoos, western meadowlarks, and prairie chickens are just a few of the state’s many birds.” “In the northeast part of the state, cedar, maple, oak, and walnut trees grow. Cottonwood, the state tree, crops up throughout the state. But Kansas is covered in a lot of grass: the west grows buffalo grass; the Southeastern Plains have bluestem grass, switch grass, and Indian grass; and the Great Plains grow bluegrass. Common wildflowers include sunflowers, verbena, purple coneflower, prairie phlox, and prickly poppy.”
WICHITA (largest city), TOPEKA (state capital), and KANSAS CITY (the other one) (and did you know that Kansas has 6000 ghost towns???)
1. Wichita, founded as a trading post along the Chisholm Trail and once a railroad hub that served as the destination for cattle drives from Texas, is now a center of aircraft production. The metropolitan population is 647, 610.
2. Topeka (metro pop of less than 250,000) is perhaps most famous for the Supreme Court case Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954). There is a National Park commemorating the event.
3. Calculating the population of Kansas City (Kansas) is tricky. By the narrowest definition it is 156,000 but broadly, the Kansas non-farm employment in the broader Kansas City MO-KS MSA is 468,400 and accounts for 41% of state GDP.
NB: From the Wikipedia list of the Ghost Towns of Kansas: “Many of the sites listed here are on private property and may be dangerous or illegal to visit. It is recommended that you inquire with local authorities or property owners for access to these places.”
HISTORY — from the “Kansa” to the Spanish to the Louisiana Purchase (1803) to “Bleeding Kansas” (1850s) to the Wild West of Wyatt Earp, Bill Masterson and Wild Bill Hickcock to the Progressive editor Wiliiam Allen White to Charles Curtis (below), Vice President of the US (1929–1933)
1. Charles Curtis (1860–1936) was the first Native American to serve as Vice President of the US.
2. Curtis was 3/8ths Native American (mother’s side) and 5/8ths European.
3. His mother was “Kaw, Sage, Potawatomi, and French.” His first words were in Kansa and French. His mother died when he was three and then lived for a time with his maternal grandparents on the Kaw reservation.
NB: Curtis was an assimilationist who “sponsored and helped pass the Curtis Act of 1898, which extended the Dawes Act to the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory. Implementation of the Act completed the ending of tribal land titles in Indian Territory and prepared the larger territory to be admitted as the State of Oklahoma which occurred in 1907. The government tried to encourage Indians to accept individual citizenship and lands and to take up European-American culture.”
FOOTNOTE — THE KANSAS FLAG: AD ASTRA PER ASPERA — “To the stars through difficulties”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Be thine own palace or the world’s thy jail.” John Donne
LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Anything miscellaneous to share? Best trip you ever took in your life? Practical life tips? Random facts? Jokes? Or, what is the best cartoon you have seen lately? or in the last 10 years? or the last 50? Or what is your favorite holiday food? Main course? Dessert? Fondest food memories? Favorite foods to eat or prepare?
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.