The far western
section consists of high plains with few natural trees and appears flat and
endless. Actually these plains are creased with shallow gullies, called draws,
the product of millennia of erosion. Here are some of the state's most striking
geologic formations. Castle Rock, south of Quinter, consists of chalk spires
rising high above the level plains. Monument Rocks, a few miles to the west,
resemble sphinxes. Near Jetmore is Horse Thief Canyon, a miniature of the Grand
The earliest evidence of human occupation is found in the area
of the Republican and Blue rivers where there had been a thriving agricultural
society from about 1200 to 1500. At the time of initial European contact the
main Indian groups were the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita.
first-known European explorer was Francisco Coronado, who in 1541 led a party
northward from Mexico in search of gold. La Salle claimed the region for France
in 1682, and French fur traders had a flourishing exchange with the Indians in
what is now the northeastern part of the state in the 18th century. Kansas was
acquired by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France in
1803. Until the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas Territory and
opened it to white settlement, Kansas had been the trailhead for the Sante Fe
and Oregon Trails and a dumping point used by the federal government for
displaced eastern Indians. In the decade before the American Civil War,
conflicts over whether to allow slavery in the territory earned it the
sobriquet "Bleeding Kansas." Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861.
Early settlement of Kansas was primarily by homesteaders who were
antislavery New Englanders or European immigrants. About 90 percent of the land
is used for agriculture, and one-third of the population lives in areas
classified as rural. Wichita, Kansas City, and Topeka are the only cities with
populations of more than 100,000.
Source: 1996 Encyclopaedia
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