Local Area Attractions
Christmas City of the High Plains
Discover rural America in a small town where community values are still important and neighbors continue to help their neighbors. During the Christmas season WaKeeney has a unique display that has been an annual tradition for over fifty years. Although the decorations are only displayed for a couple of months the spirit of Christmas is present the entire year.
The Trego County Historical Society Museum
The Trego County Historical Society Museum, along with the recent addition of a one-room country schoolhouse, is located on the Trego County Fairgrounds. There is a vast collection of pioneer possessions on display.
Trego County ghost towns
If your interests include searching out old settlements, then take a look at Trego County. The following is information about different communities or towns in Trego County that at one time had Post Offices. Out of the twenty listed, only three still have post offices, three still have community gatherings, and the other fourteen are ghost towns, some of which haven't been heard of before. Web Link
Old Fashioned Soda Fountains
WaKeeney has the distinction of having two old fashioned soda fountains on Main Street. Be a kid again and visit the Cleland Drug Store and Gibson Health Mart. Climb up on one of the bar stools and enjoy an old fashioned ice cream soda or a malted milk.
Historic Fort Hays
General George A. Custer, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok are part of the history of this outpost on a military trail. Established in 1865 in the land of Cheyenne and Arapaho, Fort Hays protected railroad workers and travelers on the Smoky Hill Trail. http://www.kshs.org/places/forthays/index.htm
Emanuel Lutheran Church
This historic limestone church is located on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway 7.5 miles south of Ogallah on KS Hwy 147. Take the Cedar Bluff Reservoir, or #135, exit off I-70.
This prairie church was constructed in 1902 of native limestone quarried near Threshing Machine Canyon located along the Smoky Hill Trail. P.A. Nelson quarried all of the stone for the church plus his nearby home. Mr. Nelson would pack a sandwich and a bottle of water and ride his horse each day to the quarry site. The main builder of the church was Mr. Hughes, and Mr. Schutte from Ellis constructed its arches. The church was established by early settlers from Sweden and was originally named the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church.
In April 2000, the still active congregation, celebrated its 100th anniversary. Today the church is a member of the Prairie Faith Shared Ministry based out of WaKeeney.
Smoky Valley Scenic Byway
The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway offers an abundance of wildflowers and endless sunsets to its visitors.
The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway greets its visitors with picturesque windmills, grazing cattle, unique limestone bluffs, and wonderful wildflowers as well as wonders of the past. The byway passes through the Smoky Hill River Valley in Trego and Ness Counties and is 60 miles long -- from Exit 135 on I-70, south on KS Hwy 147 to KS Hwy 4, west to US Hwy 283 and north to WaKeeney, eventually forming a U shape. Named for their “hazy, blue-gray” appearance at sunrise and sunset, the Smoky Hills provide a transition between the mixed-grass prairie and the short-grass prairie of the plains.
The Scenic Byway is filled with abundant history of the pioneer, westward movement. Look for the historic Emanuel Lutheran Church, Threshing Machine Canyon, Butterfield’s Overland Dispatch, and the Wilcox School. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy Cedar Bluff Reservoir, State Park, and Wildlife Area and its many possibilities. Don’t miss the many varieties of native wildflowers along the byway. Coneflowers, yucca, Indian blanket and sky blue pitcher sage abound in season.
Butterfield Overland Despatch Trail
David Butterfield established Butterfield’s Overland Dispatch in 1865 from Atchinson/Fort Leavenworth to Denver. The BOD essentially followed the Smoky Hill Trail along the Smoky Hill River. Originally the BOD was established to run freight on and then later transported passengers.
The BOD was the shortest route to the Rocky Mountains and the gold fields, but it was not always the safest. Since the BOD proved to be very hard and dangerous, the route was in operation for only a short time. Plus the railroad was moving west during this same time period and replaced this type of travel. The BOD crosses the southern part of Trego County. Today limestone markers can be seen where the trail crossed the north-south roads. One marker is located on KS Hwy 147 below the dam and one is northwest of the Wilcox School on US Hwy 283 (This marker is under repair). There are numerous other markers in this area. Plus if you look really hard in certain locations, you can still see some of the wagon ruts.
The Smoky Hill Trail Association was formed in 2007 to promote interest in the trail and to preserve its history.
Castle Rock is a chalk pinnacle rising from the prairie, approximately 47 miles southwest of WaKeeney. It was a landmark on the Butterfield Overland Dispatch trail, and can be seen for many miles. These limestone rocks were carved 80 million years ago by erosion. The site was once the floor of a vast inland sea called the Chalk Ocean. This area includes high bluffs, rock walls, and unusual limestone formations. "Castle Rock" stands alone a short distance from sandstone bluffs. The bluffs of this area are a fossil hunter's delight. Castle Rock is on private property, so please respect the property when visiting.
The "Badlands" of Kansas, famous for its fossils, is located in western Kansas in an area of chalk bluffs, chalk flats, and chalk pinnacles. The formations are sometimes referred to as the Chalk Pyramids, and are officially recognized by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark. www.naturalkansas.org/monument.htm
Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site
Walk the grounds and tour the house of this relatively unchanged rural ranch and take in the austere beauty of the South Solomon River traversing the High Plains. Constructed from 1885 to 1896 by John Fenton Pratt, Cottonwood Ranch incorporates architectural elements from his English homeland. Explore the ranch where the Pratt family flourished and John Fenton became a successful sheep rancher and businessman.
Nicodemus, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, stands today as the only entirely African American community in Kansas. Nicodemus National Historic Site preserves, protects and interprets the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period (1865-1877) following the Civil War. The town is symbolic of the pioneer spirit of African-Americans who dared to leave the only region they had been familiar with to seek personal freedom and the opportunity to develop their talents and capabilities.
WaKeeney Mini Speedway
The WaKeeney Mini-Speedway features Go-Kart races with KART rules on a clay oval track. The clay oval track was designed to be 1/7 of a mile and banked at 6 degrees. WaKeeney Mini-Speedway is IKF Sanctioned.
The summer schedule includes approximately 14 races from April thru October. Bring the family to an exciting night of racing for FREE. There is a charge for admittance to the pits only. Check out this season’s race schedule on our Calendar of Events. www.wakeeneyminispeedway.com
Boot Hill Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the history of Dodge City and the Old West. Dodge City was founded in 1872 and quickly became the world's largest shipping point for Longhorn cattle. Dodge was the wildest of the early frontier towns, but law and order was soon established with the help of men such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
The Sternberg Museum of Natural History is located approximately 35 miles east of WaKeeney, in Hays, Kansas, right along I-70. The museum is an exciting and educational destination for travelers, school groups, and families. The Sternberg Museum features interactive natural science exhibitions, many traveling and temporary exhibitions, an acclaimed Discovery Room, and a Museum Store.