Attractions around Lakin, Kansas

From the Kearny County Museum to Indian Mound and Charlie's Rut's that were declared a National Historic Trail, there is something for every history buff in Kearny County. Come see us Today!

  • Kearny County Museum (shown at right)
    • In 1974, the museum property, one-half city block, was given to the Kearny County Historical Society by Jennie Rose O'Loughlin, daughter of John and Mary O'Loughlin.

      Jennie's father, John, was the county's first permanent white settler, who came here in the spring of 1873 to establish a trading post along side the Santa Fe Trail. bullet

      The museum complex consists of the museum building and annex, the White House, the School House, Santa Fe Depot, Farm Machinery building and the Round Barn, totaling over 20,000 square feet of historical displays.

      The museum also houses a large reference library, with volumes reaching back as far as 1847. Researchers will find a wealth of information on the history and people of Kearny County, including special family files that are available for those seeking their family's history. Extensive files are kept in the archives along with original newspapers and other publications, photographs and microfilm.

      The main building houses a wide variety of displays. Visit the turn-of-the century parlor, dining room, and kitchen. Browse through the general store and millinery shop. Stop by the Hospital, doctor's office or Barber Shop. Glassware, china, clothing, jewelry, watchmakers' tools, and a newspaper Linotype are also among the displays.

      The annex exhibits include musical instruments, military items, quilts & sewing machines, photography, government, western, appliances through the years, tools & blacksmith, pre-historic, a Santa Fe Trail information display and a Conestoga Wagon.

      • HOURS: The Museum Complex is open from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. CST Tuesday - Friday
        Closed Monday and Saturday
      • TOURS: Staff is available for tours at other times by appointment.
      • LOCATION: 6 blocks South of US Highway 50 at the corner of Buffalo and Waterman
      • ADDRESS: Kearny County Historical Society
        P.O. Box 329
        Lakin, Kansas 67860
        620-355-7448

    Santa Fe Trail Landmarks

    • Charlie's Ruts - Declared a National Historic Trail May 8, 1987
      • 4 miles east, up and over the bank of the ditch, one can see the wagon ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. You will notice a difference in the color and texture of the grass in the ruts. This is characteristic of the ruts along the trail. Between Pawnee Rock and Santa Fe, New Mexico, it was customary for the wagons to travel four abreast. This allowed for quicker circling in case of attack. In the distance to the south can be seen trees lining the banks of the Arkansas River. During the early years of the trail, this was the boundary between Mexico and the United States.
    • Chouteau's Island
      • Chouteau's Island has disappeared because of erosion by the Arkansas River, but it was located due south of Indian Mound during the Santa Fe Trail days. The official survey of the Trail went to this point before crossing the Arkansas River. It was here in 1829 that the first military escort on the Trail camped while the trader caravan proceeded to Santa Fe. At that time, the Arkansas River was the international boundary. In the spring of 1816, Auguste P. Chouteau's hunting party traveling east with a winter's catch of furs was attacked near the Arkansas River by 200 Pawnees. Retreating to what was once an island five miles southwest of the marker the hunters beat them off with the loss of only one man. In 1825, increased travel on the Santa Fe Trail brought a government survey and Chouteau's Island was listed as a turning off place for the dangerous "Jornada" to the Cimarron. For a time, the river here was the Mexican boundary. When Major Bennett Riley and four companies of infantry, serving as the first military escort on the trail, arrived in 1829 with a west-bound wagon train the troops went into camp near the island. They spent the summer fighting off Indians, losing several men and part of their oxen. The return from Santa Fe of the caravan with a Mexican escort was celebrated in a colorful exchange of military inspections.
    • Indian Mound
      • Indian Mound, a prominent point west of Lakin, Kansas, stands as it did many years ago when Joseph C. Brown, a government engineer and his surveying expedition made official note of it in 1825. Back in the Trail's "Hey day", Indian Mound was much higher and larger. People digging for relics and such have hastened its erosion. At one time, it was visible from Lakin. Indian Mound is approximately 5 miles southwest of Lakin, Kansas. This is a natural landmark that was most likely used as a lookout point by Indians and traders. The view from this mound is still impressive today.
    • Bluff Station
      • Used by state companies as a relay station in the 1850's & 60's.
    • Clear Lake
      • This bottomless lake was the watering point for those traveling south of the Cimarron Cut-off.

For more information on these attractions and others call 620.355.7448