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Wichita Kansas

a trading post and industrial hub a regional center of culture media and trade

downtown wichitaWichita lies on the Arkansas River in south-central Kansas, 157 mi (253 km) north of Oklahoma City, 181 mi (291 km) southwest of Kansas City, and 439 mi (707 km) east-southeast of Denver. The Arkansas follows a winding course, south-southeast through Wichita, roughly bisecting the city.

A Trading Post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s, it became a destination for cattle drives traveling north from Texas to Kansas railroads, earning it the nickname Cowtown.

the exploration place wichitaBusiness opportunities attracted area hunters and traders, and a new settlement was organized as the Wichita Town Company, naming the settlement after the Wichita tribe. In the early 20th century, oil and natural gas deposits were discovered nearby triggering an economic boom in Wichita as producers established refineries, fueling stations, and headquarters in the city. Resources generated by the oil boom enabled local entrepreneurs to invest in airplane manufacturing. Except for a slow period in the 1970s, Wichita has continued to grow steadily into the 21st century as the city government and local organizations began collaborating to re-develop downtown Wichita and older neighborhoods in the city.

wichita former train stationNeighborhoods include Old Town, a 50-acre area home to nightclubs, bars, restaurants, a movie theater, shops, apartments and condominiums, many of which make use of historical warehouse-type spaces. The two most notable residential areas of Wichita are Riverside and College Hill, along with Delano on the west side of the Arkansas River and Midtown in the north-central part of the city.

wichita orpheum theaterThe Arts Wichita is a cultural center for Kansas and home to several art museums and performing arts groups. The Wichita Art Museum is the largest art museum in the state of Kansas with 7,000 works in permanent collections and the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University is a modern and contemporary art museum with over 6,300 works. Small art galleries are scattered around the city with some clustered in the districts of Old Town, Delano and south Commerce street. The music hub of central Kansas draws major acts from around the world, performing at concert halls, arenas and stadiums around the area.

Wichita Transit operates 53 buses on 18 fixed bus routes within the city providing over 2 million trips per year as well as a demand response paratransit service with 320,800 passenger trips annually. Intercity bus services connect Wichita with other Kansas towns, Oklahoma and Colorado. Wichita’s Bikeways cover 115 miles of which one third were added between 201 and 2018

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Little Rock and the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South located on the south bank of the Arkansas River in Central Arkansas. Fourche Creek and Rock Creek run through the city, and flow into the river.  

Pulaski County CourthouseThe name derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called the “Little Rock” (French: La Petite Roche). The Little Rock was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing.

The Metro Streetcar System, formerly the River Rail Electric Streetcar, is a 3.4-mile (5.5 km) heritage streetcar system that runs from the North Little Rock City Hall and throughout downtown Little Rock before crossing over to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. The streetcar line has fourteen stops and a fleet of five cars with a daily ridership of around 350.

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Maritime Museums in Historic Towns

Little Rock an Intermodal River Port with a large Industrial Business Complex

hoga tugboatThe Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is located on North Shore Riverwalk Park along the shore of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, Arkansas. It is home to two floating Naval vessels that bookend World War II: the tugboat Hoga, designated a National Historic Landmark and recognized for her efforts during the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941; and the submarine Razorback, which was in Tokyo Bay during the formal surrender of Japan, ending World War II. The museum features exhibits on the following Naval vessels: the submarine Razorback, the tugboat Hoga, the battleship Arkansas, and the guided missile cruiser Arkansas.

A Collection from the Arkansas River Historical Society features the History of the Arkansas River

AIMM_cubscoutpack408_2017Arkansas Vessels there have been five naval vessels, four named in the United States Navy and one in the Confederate States Navy. The first of the vessels was CSS Arkansas, an ironclad ship used by the Confederates. This Arkansas had the shortest life, serving less than a month before it was scuttled in Louisiana. The USS Arkansas was built in Pennsylvania and bought by the Union during the Civil War in 1863, two months before the Union occupation of Arkansas. The Monitor USS Monitor was one of the last monitors built for the United States Navy. Launched in 1900 and commissioned in 1902, it served many different roles while in the navy. The fourth vessel, and the longest serving vessel, was the dreadnought battleship USS Arkansas and second member of the Wyoming class in the United States Navy. It was commissioned in 1912 and served in both World Wars. The last of the USS Arkansas was a Virginia-class nuclear-propelled guided-missile cruiser. Its primary mission was defending aircraft carrier task forces from both the air and from below. The cruiser was decommissioned in 1998.

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Dodge City Kansas

frontier town gunfights saloons cows and western trails

Dodge City LonghornHistory Fort Mann was the first settlement of non indigenous people in the area that became Dodge City. It was built by civilians in 1847 to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1865, the army constructed Fort Dodge which remained in operation until 1882. The town of Dodge City can trace its origins to 1871, when rancher Henry J. Sitler built a sod house west of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations located near the Santa Fe Trail and the Arkansas River.

Hanging TreeDodge City was staked out in 1872 on the 100th meridian and the legal western boundary of the Fort Dodge reservation. The early settlers traded in buffalo bones and hides; with the arrival of the railroad, Dodge City soon became involved in the cattle trade. The queen of the cow towns resulted from the new Western Trail that branched off from the Chisholm Trail.

Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson 1876Frontier town Dodge City had more gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West as well as saloons, gambling halls, and brothels, led by the Long Branch Saloon and the China Doll brothel. By 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners moved west to greener pastures, and Dodge City became a sleepy little town in western Kansas.

Dodge City sits above one of the world’s largest underground water systems

Front Street ShopsCulture Starting in the 1870s, the early city history fueled public perceptions of frontier turmoil in the public consciousness. Gunfighters and lawmen such as Wyatt Earp became celebrities, and sensationalized versions of their activities entered period popular culture as the subject of dime novels. This trend continued into the 20th century, as the rowdy Old West frontier town was the setting for many films and television series such as Gunsmoke, the longest-running prime-time TV drama in American history. In the Smallville TV series, Clark Kent’s hometown is 200 miles (320 km) west of Wichita and Metropolis is southwest of Dodge City.

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