Kansas became the 34th state in the US on January 29th 1861. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 had opened both areas to settlement and allowed settlers to decide whether the two states would be “free” or “slave” causing both North and South to go into competition with each other to send the most settlers.
As may be imagined, this soon led to violence, to the extent that Kansas became known as “Bleeding Kansas”. Today, nicknames for Kansas are Sunflower State, Jayhawk State, and Wheat State, the latter a result of the huge tracts of the state devoted to wheat growing. Sumner County produced 9 million bushels of wheat in 2009. Corn, sorghum and soy beans are also grown. The name “Jayhawk” was originally given to looters during the unrest when North and South were both sending settlers in the 1850’s, although some think it was the name given to anti-slavery fighters in the Civil War.
The Most Fatal Casualties
During the American Civil War, from 1861 – 1865, Kansas had more fatal casualties than any other State in the Union. In 1866 the 7th Cavalry was established at Fort Riley under General Custer, who in June 1876 led the regiment at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The fort had been established in 1853 near the Kansas river to protect trade and settlers along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.
The motto on the State flag – Ad Astra Per Aspera – means “to the stars through difficulties”.
Kansas is also known for the major military installation at Fort Leavenworth, for jazz, and as the setting for The Wizard of Oz. The State covers some 82,000 square miles and has a total population of approximately 2.9 million. In the last twelve months, Kansas has had a total of 1,744 earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or more, mostly at depths between 4 km and 6 km.
The largest city in Kansas is Wichita, with a population of 600,000, and is a major aircraft manufacturing center. Up-river from Wichita is the city of Hutchinson which is home to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Prairie Dunes Country Club, and the Kansas State Fair.
Summers Are Very Hot
Summers in Kansas are often very hot indeed with some areas having temperatures of over 100º during June, July, and August, but in the eastern two thirds of the State the winters can be cold. However, the western part of the state receives Chinook winds in the winter which can keep the temperature up to 80º.
The legal age for drinking in Kansas is 21, but the state still has 29 dry counties, while only 17 counties have enacted liquor-by-the-drink laws which enable alcoholic drinks to be sold with no food purchase requirement.