Exploring the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Wichita

In 2023, Kansas introduced the Gunsmoke Trail. Four cities largely make up the trail: Dodge City, Wichita, Abilene, and Hays. Those cities were often mentioned in the old television and radio Gunsmoke series. Since we had a planned Wichita visit last year, Skip and I decided to take that opportunity to visit all four main cities on the trail. Specifically, we visited attractions that focus on the Old West. What fun we had doing that! Here are the attractions we visited while exploring the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Wichita.

This is Part 1 of a 4-part series on the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail.

Old Cowtown Museum

Photo op with a cow

Our first stop on the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Wichita was the Old Cowtown Museum. We learned so much about Wichita’s Old West past here—and had a blast doing it. The open-air museum includes 60+ structures. Most of them are original, dating back to the 1800s. We went through homes of early Wichita’s movers and shakers, a general store, and more. We watched part of an old-time baseball game and saw a blacksmith ply his trade. Ready to rest for a bit, we sat in the saloon and sipped a cold sarsaparilla while the showgirls performed on stage.

The Old Cowntown Museum is located at 1865 W Museum Boulevard in Wichita.
Read “Wild West Comes Alive at Old Cowtown Museum”

Keeper of the Plains and Mid-America All-Indian Center

Keeper of the Plains statue in the daylight

Standing where the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers join together, the 44-foot steel Keeper of the Plains reaches skyward. Even more imposing atop a 30-foot rock promontory, the steel sculpture has become the iconic symbol of Wichita. We visited twice, once during the day and again at night.
Read “The Keeper of the Plains and Mid-America All-Indian Center”

Once we saw the Keeper of the Plains, we discovered more about the artist who created it at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. We enjoyed seeing more of Blackbear Bosin’s art in the museum, as well as art by other American Indians. In addition, we learned more in general about Native Americans culture and saw a special exhibit focused on drums.

The Mid-America All-Indian Center and The Keeper of the Plains is located at 650 N Seneca Street in Wichita.

Old Town Wichita

It’s easy to see how Old Town Wichita fits the Gunsmoke theme, with its historic architecture and brick-lined streets. In the 19th century, warehouses and manufacturing plants filled the area. Today, the area is a lively entertainment hub, with the old brick buildings transformed to trendy restaurants and boutiques.

One evening during our Wichita visit, we were treated to a feast at Public at the Brickyard in Old Town Wichita as part of a Travel Kansas tourism event. On another evening, we enjoyed dinner at Old Town Wichita’s River City Brewing Company. If most of the restaurants in Old Town have similar ambiance and food as good as these two restaurants, it’s no wonder the area is so popular.

Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

Four-story 1892 limestone museum building with turret and clock tower
The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum building was Wichita’s first city hall.

We visited the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum to learn more about the city’s Old West days. However, we found all of the exhibits in the museum equally fascinating. Museum exhibits cover everything from the time when the only humans to occupy the area were Native American tribes and stretches all the way to modern times. (We had to giggle that the water fountains blocked off by plexiglass during covid are now a museum exhibit.) In fact, the building itself is a museum exhibit. The limestone building, which features elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, was Wichita’s first City Hall.

The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is located at 204 S Main Street in Wichita.
Read “Time Travel at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum”

Museum of World Treasures

Some of the treasures in the Museum of World Treasures date back a lot farther than the Native American tribes, like the Fossil Gallery with several dinosaur fossils, as well as a fossil of a giant sea creature. We were certainly surprised to learn that at one time the ocean covered Kansas.

Moving forward to the 19th century, the Old West exhibit includes lots of information on cowboys, bank robbers, and life for the American soldier in the West. My favorite artifact? General George Custer’s undergarment.

Navy blue long john underwear once worn by General Custer
General Custer’s undergarment

The Museum of World Treasures also includes ancient Egyptian artifacts, a military section, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and several more fascinating exhibits.

The museum is located at 835 East 1st Street in Wichita.


If You Explore the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Wichita…

Wichita was a great start to our Kansas Gunsmoke Trail experience. Next, we headed to Dodge City, the focal point of Gunsmoke, and Part 2 of our four-city tour.

Click here for additional information on the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Wichita.

Other articles in this issue of Midwest Wanderer Explores…

Exploring the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Dodge City
Exploring the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Hays
Exploring the Kansas Gunsmoke Trail in Abilene
Wild West Wichita Comes Alive at Old Cowtown Museum
The Keeper of the Plains and Mid-America All-Indian Center
Time Travel at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum
Boot Hill Museum: Discover the Wild West Legacy
Home of Stone: The Mueller-Schmidt House—A Living Heritage
Boot Hill Distillery: Soil to Sip in a Historical Location
Historic Fort Hays: Tracing the Footsteps of Frontier Defenders
Cowtown to Carousels: Explore the Dickinson County Heritage Center

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