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Notable Events in Kansas History

In observance of the Kansas 150, Governor Sam Brownback's Blue Ribbon Panel for Kansas History announced 12 Notable Events in Kansas History on January 24, 2012, in Topeka.

This list represents those events that had a national or international impact. The purpose of this list is to excite Kansans about their history and inspire our young people about the importance and relevance of Kansas history and its people.

Santa Fe TrailSeptember 1, 1821 - First party leaves Missouri headed for Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. This event was the official opening of the Santa Fe Trail. Overland trails helped the nation expand to new territories and initiate trade with neighboring countries.

November 4, 1838 - Potawatomi Trail of Death ends in Kansas. Under the Indian Removal Act, 859 Potawatomi people were forced to walk more than 600 miles to Kansas. As many as 90 different tribes were removed to Kansas in the mid-19th century, and hundreds of native people lost their lives during their first few years here.

Kansas-Nebraska ActMay 30, 1854 - Kansas-Nebraska Act signed into law by U.S. President Franklin Pierce. This opened Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory for settlement and allowed voters to decide whether Kansas would be a free state or allow slavery, and led to a violent time period known as Bleeding Kansas.

February 11, 1859 - The Santa Fe Railway is chartered by Kansas Territorial Legislature. The railroads connected Kansas to the East and the West, bringing new settlers, and determining where cities and towns were built.

Moneka Woman's Rights Association preambleJuly 5, 1859 - Women’s rights included in discussions of Wyandotte Constitution. This was the first of several steps that would eventually give women full voting rights and the right to own property.

March 5, 1862 - The Kansas Legislature formed the Kansas Agricultural Society. These organizations encouraged farmers to grow winter wheat, creating the “bread basket of the world.”

September 5, 1867 – The first load of cattle to be shipped via rail from Kansas. Organized by Joseph McCoy, Abilene became the first of several cowtowns, emerged along the cattle trails and helped create the beef industry in Kansas.

May 1, 1881 – Kansas prohibition takes effect. Kansas was the first state to do so. Carry Nation became known around the world for her support of the prohibition laws.

January 26, 1925 – Travel Air Manufacturing Company established. Owners Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Lloyd Stearman created the “air capital of the world” in Wichita. The companies they created continue today.

April 14, 1935 - A massive front darkens the entire Midwest in clouds of dust on Black Sunday. The Dust Bowl was devastating to farmers across the plains and they eventually changed their farming practices.

Rural electrification comes to KansasApril 1, 1938 – Rural electrification reaches Kansas. This allowed Kansas farms to have the same technology, like sewing machines and milk machines, as cities across the nation.

May 17, 1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court announces its unanimous ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This landmark decision determined that separate but equal was inherently unequal, and helped launch the Civil Rights Movement.

See the blue ribbon panel's selections for the top 25 Notable Kansans

Entry: Notable Events in Kansas History

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2012

Date Modified: February 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.