Kansas
 
 
 
 
Travel America

Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Kansas.
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Kansas

Known as the "Sunflower State," Kansas became the 34th state in 1861. The state's name comes from the Kansa or Kaw Indians and is a Sioux Indian term meaning "south wind people." Within Kansas's borders is the magnetic center mark for all of North America. All land surveys in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico use this as a reference point. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous (connected) states is located in a Kansas pasture. The native sunflower is the state flower and the capital is Topeka.
Flag of KansasKansas State Flag


The state flag of Kansas (adopted in 1927) features the Kansas state seal on a field of dark blue.

Above the seal is the state crest; a sunflower (official state flower of Kansas) resting on a twisted blue and gold bar that represents the Louisiana Purchase (the original Louisiana Purchase territory is now divided among 13 states). Beneath the state seal is the word KANSAS in yellow capital letters.

Symbols on Kansas Seal

The symbols on the state seal of Kansas were specified by the first Kansas legislature in 1861(the year Kansas became one of the United States). All State Seals

The rising sun represents the east; the river and steamboat are symbols of commerce; the cabin, and the settler and plow horses represent agriculture as the base for the future prosperity of the state of Kansas.

In the distance oxen draw a wagon train west, and a herd of buffalo is pursued by two native Americans on horseback (the American buffalo was adopted as the official state animal of Kansas in 1955); herds of buffalo numbering in the millions once roamed Kansas (correct name is "American bison").

In the sky are thirty-four stars (Kansas was the thirty-fourth state admitted to the Union) with the state motto above: "Ad astra per aspera "("To the stars through difficulties").
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of KansasKansas State Facts

Picture: state seal of Kansas
State Capital Topeka
Nickname Sunflower State
Motto Ad Astra per Aspera (To the stars through difficulties)
Statehood January 29, 1861 (34th)
Origin of Name From the Sioux Indian for "south wind people."
Largest Cities Wichita
Border States Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma
Area 81,823 sq. mi., 13th largest
State Bird Western Meadowlark
State Flower Sunflower
State Tree Cottonwood (populus)
State Song Home on the Range
Map showing the location of KansasTravel and tourism site for Kansas - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Kansas Stories
 
Lawrence City Band: Summer Concerts in the Park

What's the oldest musical group you can think of that is still performing? The Rolling Stones? Aerosmith?

The Lawrence City Band in Lawrence, Kansas, can trace its roots back to the Civil War, a time when most of Lawrence's citizens were originally from New England.

The band's first performance was presented on a beautiful summer evening in 1863. As fate would have it, that was the night before the legendary raid on Lawrence by William Clark Quantrill. Quantrill -- and his men, who included the dangerous Frank and Jesse James -- was a murderer of Union sympathizers, many of whom were abolitionists (people who were against slavery). Quantrill and his 450 Raiders attacked Union sympathizers, such as the people of Lawrence. The Raiders killed more than 150 residents of Lawrence during that raid, including all but one of the original members of the Lawrence City Band.

Since then there have been many different members in the Lawrence City Band as the group grows and shrinks depending on the number of musicians in it. Today, the Lawrence City Band commemorates that terrible day and continues the tradition of offering free music on Wednesday nights during the summer to the citizens of Lawrence and anyone else who travels there from far away.
 
Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty

"The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is here pledged to keep it. The Indians desire peace and they now pledge their honor to maintain it."

Those words were part of the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty of 1867. That treaty was drawn between the U.S. government and the five tribes of Plains Indians -- the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche in the city of Medicine Lodge in southern Kansas.

The Plains Indians had settled in Medicine Lodge, which, for them, was a sacred area. The different tribes of Indians peacefully shared a "lodge" on the banks of the river, which they believed had the power to cure ills. This treaty allowed for white settlements in the area, opened it up to railroads, and fixed the southern boundary of Kansas.

Today, the treaty is celebrated every three years with a colorful outdoor pageant re-enacting the events that led to the signing at the place where the Medicine River and Elm Creek meet on the Kansas prairie, now designated Memorial Peace Park. Events also include an Intertribal Powwow featuring Native American dance competitions, crafts, and food booths. The powwow is open to all tribes, with special recognition given to the five Indian tribes that signed the treaty.
 
Community Life in Strawberry Hill

Do you know the expression "Every picture tells a story?" With the paintings by Marijana Grisnik of Kansas City, Kansas, that is definitely true.

Marijana Grisnik, a Croatian American born in 1936, captured everyday life with her colorful paintings of the Strawberry Hill neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas. Strawberry Hill lies on the bluffs overlooking the Kansas and Missouri rivers, and legend has it that the name comes from the wild strawberries that once grew there.

Grisnik's work is influenced by the "naïve" artists of Croatia. The "naïve" (pronounced nye-eve) style of painting is usually practiced by someone who is self-taught and presents images in an uncomplicated way. Do you think that is true in this painting?

The area of Strawberry Hill is most closely defined with the South Slavic immigrants, especially the Croatians, who came in the late 19th century to seek greater opportunity and prosperity. As was the case for many ethnic communities, life in Strawberry Hill at first resembled life in the old country. Although many changes have occurred, it remains a strong ethnic community and a center for Croatian Americans throughout the Kansas City area.
 
Little Sweden

Do you know who founded your city or town?

Lindsborg is a city in north central Kansas that was founded by nearly 100 Swedish immigrants. Nicknamed "Little Sweden," this city honors Lindsborg's Swedish settlers and cultural contributions.

Nestled in the Smoky Valley region of north central Kansas, the community of Lindsborg was settled in 1869. The Swedish immigrants who moved there were all followers of the Lutheran faith, which they could not practice freely in their native land, and they also had a great love of music. In the early days many of them were farmers. Other Lindsborg founders were craftsmen, educators and musicians. The Swedish immigrants had a passion for all things cultural, and that attitude still exists today. A large number of artists and musicians still live in Lindsborg, a community of approximately 3,200. Even now, the city has a Swedish character.

Are there any ethnic characteristics in your community that you can trace to the area's beginnings?
 
Wichita River Festival

Have you ever seen a bathtub race or a dinosaur raft? If you are in Wichita, Kansas, during the River Festival in May, you will have your chance. Every year Wichita celebrates with a 10-day-long party, which was first held in 1972. In addition to the raft and bathtub events, the festival features live entertainment, cook-offs, and a fishing derby.

The Antique Bathtub Race, an event that is even recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records, features antique tubs, mounted on flotation platforms, all racing across water for the top trophy -- a gold-plated bathtub. In the early days of the race, some of the tubs never made it to the finish line. Some people suspect that there are still a few tubs at the bottom of the Arkansas River!

During the Saturday morning raft race, decorated rafts float down the winding Arkansas River, their occupants spraying the spectators with river water. Besides the dinosaur raft, there have been race car rafts, a Snoopy raft and a Dumbo raft. If you were to enter a rafting contest, what would your raft look like?
 
Tornadoes in Kansas

Kansas is known for many things -- wheat, sunflowers ... and tornadoes! What famous story set in Kansas features a tornado?

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, tells the story of Dorothy, who gets caught in a Kansas tornado and lands in the imaginary land of Oz. This story has been dramatized on stage and film. You might have seen the movie version, which stars Judy Garland as Dorothy.

Tornadoes are storms with rapidly rotating winds that form a funnel cloud. Also known as "twisters," they extend downward from the huge clouds of a severe thunderstorm. The winds that rotate within a tornado usually reach a speed of almost 300 miles per hour! A tornado often sweeps through an area quickly, but it can cause considerable destruction. There have been a number of remarkable reports of tornadoes. In one instance, a schoolhouse was demolished while the 85 students originally inside it were carried more than 400 feet with none killed. There was also a case of five railway coaches, each weighing 70 tons, lifted from their tracks.
 
Neewollah

Spell "Neewollah" backwards and what do you get?

Halloween, of course! Neewollah first began as a fun alternative to trick-or-treat vandalism. According to newspapers from 1918, vandalism was especially bad that year, and Neewollah was created to give kids a healthy option for their Halloween activities.

This event, held in Independence, Kansas, has grown from just a Halloween night celebration to a festival that lasts nine days! It features three parades, community theater musical productions such as The Wizard of Oz, a talent show, and the coronation of a Neewollah queen. Musical entertainment and games such as the Neewollah medallion hunt add to the festivities.
Source: Library of Congress
Kansas

There are no national forests, parks, or monuments in this state.
 
Travel America
Cool America
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
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