Whether you’re a visitor to the state, just passing through, or a lifelong resident, there are hundreds of interesting facts about Kansas that will make you look at this state in a whole new light.
As a resident myself, I’ve picked some of the best Kansas fun facts and some really fascinating Kansas facts that might surprise you about every aspect of this “Garden of the West,” from grasshoppers to meteorites and tiny towns with a population of one.
Having this information and all the Kansas facts in your memory bank might not seem like the most critical thing in your life. Still, imagine how impressed people will be when you start your “Did you know….?” speech at barbecues, parties, and even at the office! Okay, maybe not. But it’s fascinating stuff anyway, so read on!
24 Fun Kansas Facts You Need to Know
1. It’s As Flat As A Pancake–Literally!
If you’re into mountaineering, this state might not be the best option.
Actual topographical tests carried out on a cross-section of a pancake and compared to elevation data of a west-to-east profile of Kansas proved what every Kansan didn’t want to believe – the state is indeed the flatter of the two.
While the pancake had a flatness of 0.957, the flatness of Kansas measured 0.9997. As the research team reported, “The degree of flatness might be described, mathematically, as ‘damn flat.’”
The good news, and one of the many fun facts about Kansas, is that it is only the ninth flattest state.
The honors actually go to Florida since its highest point is only 345 ft. above sea level, while Kansas is saved by Mount Sunflower (see later for details) at 4,039 ft. above sea level and Flint Hills.
2. Kansas City Is Actually In Missouri
Well, that’s not strictly true, as there is also a Kansas City across the river, near Overland Park, but the one in Missouri is older, much larger, and more established than its Kansas namesake.
Kansas City, Missouri, was incorporated in 1853, eight years before the Sunflower State was incorporated as the 34th state.
It took its name from the river, which in turn was named after the Native American Kanza People. Originally named the City of Kansas, it became Kansas City in 1889.
Its namesake across the river was founded in 1872 and intentionally took on the name of its neighbor to benefit from the success on the Missouri side.
That never really happened, and it remains about one-third the size, with a population of around 154,500 compared to 512,500.
3. Kansas City Chiefs Are Not A Kansas Team
The Kansas City Chiefs, a professional football team, is based in Missouri.
However, President Trump, in a now-famous gaffe, congratulated the “great state of Kansas” for one of their Super Bowl victories. Kansans like to feel that he was at least partly right.
4. The Sunflower State Is The Top Wheat Producer In The USA
One of the many interesting facts about Kansas that revolve around food is that it harvests enough bushels of wheat annually to produce over 33 billion loaves of bread, sufficient to give everyone on Earth 6 loaves each.
Kansas ties with North Dakota for the top spot but produces more than Montana, Oklahoma, and Idaho combined and is responsible for 18 to 20 percent of the total wheat production in the U.S. Farmers in this state have been growing wheat since the 1830s and six different types are harvested in the state.
5. Kansas Has The Largest Grain Elevator In The World
Another of those wheat-related Kansas facts with which you can amaze your friends with your depth of knowledge is that the largest grain elevator ever built is in Wichita, KS, which also happens to be the largest city in the state.
The De Bruce elevator consists of 246 separate tanks, each one 120 feet high, with an internal diameter of 30 feet.
At 2,717 feet in length, it extends over half a mile and is licensed to hold over 22 million bushels of grain.
One of the hazards of storing grain is that it can generate heat and gases in the tanks.
In 1998, a massive explosion killed seven people and injured a further ten, as well as causing severe damage.
From wheat to fast food is a bit of a leap, but here goes:
6. Pizza Hut Was Born in Kansas
Dan and Frank Carney, two college student brothers, were persuaded by their landlord to open a pizza parlor in a vacant corner store in 1958.
With $600 borrowed from their mother, the brothers set up a beer and pizza restaurant and developed their menu with their own recipes.
The following year, a second Pizza Hut opened in Topeka and then a third in Aggieville, Manhattan, Kansas. This Pizza Hut ran continuously until it closed in 2015.
Today, Pizza Hut is the largest Pizza franchise in the world, with over 11,000 outlets. The brother sold their interest in 1977, and Frank died in 2020 at the age of 82.
7. Three Fast Food Legends Began In Kansas
Two more Kansas facts involve two more fast-food legends, one of which was the world’s first-ever fast-food chain.
White Castle – launched in 1921 in Wichita, KS, by Billy Ingram, the five-cent “slider” served with pickles and onion launched a chain of 345 stores in 13 states and a whole generation of Cravers.
Icees – invented in Coffeyville, KS, in 1958, the same year as Pizza Hut began, this frozen slushy is one of the states’ favorite exports and has expanded into other brands such as Slush Puppy.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers – was founded in Wichita in 2002 by 92-year-old Fred Simon (how’s that for a Kansas fun fact!), his two sons, and a lifelong friend. Twenty years later, there are over 450 franchises around the USA.
8. The World’s Largest Easel Is Holding A Giant Van Gogh
I’m not sure which is the bigger attraction, the easel or the Van Gogh that it holds, but they’re both BIG!
The easel can be found in Goodland, KS, just off the I-70 interstate highway. It’s 80 feet tall, made of steel, and weighs over 40,000 pounds.
The Van Gogh replica is one of only three in the world, a 24-foot by 32-foot painting by Cameron Cross based on “Three Sunflowers in A Vase.”
Seeing that Goodland is in the heart of sunflower territory, in “The Sunflower State,” the giant painting on this giant easel makes a lot of sense and is a good reason to visit Goodland.
Sunflowers were a food source for early Native Americans, and the highest point in Kansas, as mentioned, is Mount Sunflower, so the theme is well-supported in Kansas.
9. The World’s Largest Tall Grass Prairie Is in Flint Hills
Only 4% of the world’s tallgrass prairie remains, and it’s one of the interesting facts about Kansas that 80% of that is in the four-million-acre contiguous area in Eastern Kansas known as the Flint Hills.
With grasses growing up to 10 feet, this ecologically rich area, with its rolling hills and unspoiled landscape, is home to an abundance of bison, birds, and fishes and is now protected to an increasing extent by farmers, ranchers, and agricultural organizations determined to prevent any further destruction of the habitat.
10. These Rocks Are Out Of This World
While nature lovers may use that expression to describe the beauty of Flint Hills, it’s absolutely true of another of those Kansas facts – it has more than its fair share of meteorites.
More than 10% of all meteorite finds in the country are in Kansas, and if you’re keen on seeing them outside of a museum, where they fell to Earth, try Western Kansas.
Here, where there is very little development, arable land with few trees and rocks, and plenty of open spaces, they’re most clearly visible.
The most significant meteorite found in the state, the Brenham meteorite, was discovered in 1882 and appears to have fallen to Earth about 10,000 years ago.
Broken into pieces during its fall and impact, over three tons of material has been unearthed, including a 1000 lb. and a 1400 lb. segment.
The Kansas Meteorite Museum in Haviland, close to the site of the Brenham crater, provides a fascinating insight into these fragments of other planets that fell to Earth in Kansas.
11. Wichita Is The Airplane Capital Of The World
Since 1916, when Clyde Cessna signed a contract to build planes here, Kansas has had a history closely associated with aircraft, with Wichita at the heart of a vibrant manufacturing, design, and research aerospace industry.
One of several Kansas facts relating to the industry – today, 35% of all general aviation craft are manufactured and delivered out of the Sunflower State, including world-renowned names such as Beechcraft/Cessna Aircraft Company, Airbus, Bombardier, and Spirit AeroSystems.
12. Kansas Has Various Aviation Fun Facts
Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer and the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic, who mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, was born and raised in Kansas.
Wichita’s aircraft industry goes back to 1900, three years before the Wright brothers made their first manned flight.
The first patent for a helicopter was given to William Purvis and Charles Wilson of Goodland, KS, in 1909. Their helicopter was destroyed in a crash, but a replica is on view at the High Plains Museum in Goodland.
13. Some Kansas Laws Will Test Your Belief
When it comes to matters of justice, Kansans seemed to have covered all the possibilities and a few impossibilities, too.
In Topeka, it’s illegal to sing, hoot, or whistle in the streets between 11 pm and 7 am.
It’s also illegal to scream in a haunted house.
In Derby, KS, you are prohibited from kicking a vending machine that has swallowed your dime.
Also, in Derby, it’s illegal to ride a horse or ride in an animal-drawn vehicle on a public road.
In Kansas City, catching fish with one’s hands is banned.
Kansas law prohibits people from hunting any game or fur-bearing animal from a motorboat, airplane, or motor vehicle.
Importantly, in a landlocked state, it’s illegal to hunt whales.
14. Kansas Is The Center Of Attention
The center point of the lower 48 states (that’s all the adjoining states in the USA, so it excludes Hawaii and Alaska) is approximately 2.6 miles northwest of Lebanon, KS.
The honor is contested by those who choose to include Hawaii and Alaska, as well as some who include all lakes and bodies of water in their calculations, so there are a few contesting sites.
15. Kansas Nicknames Tell A Story
Whether or not Lebanon marks the center spot, it’s still considered one of the Kansas facts and the reason behind one of the state nicknames:
It’s known as “The Central State” because of that famous center spot.
It’s called “The Garden of The West” after the phrase used in an advertising brochure for lands in southwestern Kansas offered for sale.
The nickname “The Grasshopper State” was coined after the 1874 Grasshopper Plague, when Kansas was denuded by swarms of Rocky Mountain Locusts that swept into the state in July of that year.
“The Sunflower State” is the official nickname for Kansas, as the wild sunflower is a part of the flora of the state; it appears on the state flag and the Kansas quarter. Mount Sunflower is the name of the state’s highest mountain.
“The Wheat State” is the most apt nickname for obvious reasons.
16. Kansas Mottos And Slogans–Short and Sweet
The official motto of Kansas is “Ad Astra Per Aspera” (To the stars through difficulties). Some less noble Kansas facts are reflected in other slogans and sayings:
“Halfway to Everywhere”
“Not Everything Is Flat”
“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”
“Kansas had better stop raising corn and begin raising hell.”
“Land of Ahhs”
“Kansas is indispensable to the joy, the inspiration, and the improvement of the world.” (This is a quote by John J. Ingalls, a U.S. Senator from Kansas)
17. It’s All In The Name
We’ve looked at the nicknames and the mottoes, but what about the name itself?
The Kansas Historical Society is of the opinion that, as with many of the states, the name derives from a Native American tribe, the Kaw, or Kansa, as they were called by the early French traders.
Part of the Sioux nation, they were the predominant tribe in the area, and so it became the land of the Kansas, “The People Of The South Wind.”
18. Topeka Is Not Just The Capital
It’s not the biggest city in Kansas, but it is the capital. Maybe because, in the language of the Kansa, it was “The Place To Dig Good Potatoes.” Or, “A Good Place To Dig Potatoes”.
Either way, it’s another of those interesting Kansas facts!
19. Many Famous People Were Born And Raised In Kansas
Legends of stage and screen, singers, songwriters, political figures, business tycoons – there’s a host of famous Kansans, of which these are just a few:
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Koch Brothers
20. The Windiest City in the United States Is Not Chicago
That’s right. According to The Weather Channel, Dodge City is the windiest city in the US, with an average wind speed of 15 miles per hour.
The city experiences guts of up to 79 miles per hour during windy months, like April.
21. Kansas’ State Symbols Reflect Its Character
There are several official symbols of the state, each adopted by legislation and each reflecting an aspect of life that has a meaning for the inhabitants of Kansas.
1935 – State March: “The Kansas March”
1937 – State Bird: Western Meadowlark
1937 – State Tree: Cottonwood Tree
1947 – State Song: “Home on the Range”
1955 – State Animal: American Buffalo
1976 – State Insect: Honeybee
1986 – State Reptile: Ornate Box Turtle
1990 – State Soil: Harney Loam Silt
1992 – State March: “Here’s Kansas”
1994 – State Amphibian: Barred Tiger Salamander
2010 – State Grass: Little Bluestem
2018 – State Rock: Limestone
2018 – State Mineral: Galena
2018 – State Gemstone: Jelinite
2018 – State Fish: Channel Catfish
2019 – State Red wine grape: Chambourcin
2019 – State White wine grape: Vignoles
2022 – State Fruit: Sandhill Plum
22. There Are Tiny Towns In Kansas
When I first started researching Kansas fun facts, I came across a small town called Kelly with a population of one, but the latest data shows it now has 27 people in the local community, so it’s booming and may no longer be tiny.
Other tiny towns include Smolan (population 190), Tyro (population 180), population 76), Lebanon (population 250 and could be accurately described as the dead center of the USA), Tipton ( 215), and Hanston (215.)
Still, there are more than 6,000 ghost towns and dwindling communities in the state. In the meanwhile, Johnson County is among the fastest-growing areas.
23. Tornado Alley Passes Right Through Kansas
Kansas gets hit by an average of 96 tornadoes per year and ranks as the second-most affected state. It’s rated third in terms of tornadoes per 1,000 square miles.
As one of the more serious Kansas facts, it illustrates that you’re never totally safe, but tornado season is mainly between April and July when warm Gulf air meets cold Rocky Mountain air.
Kansas, with its flat landscape and high moisture levels in the air, is very susceptible to the frightening phenomenon.
24. This May Be The Most Famous Tornado Of Them All
Remember The Wizard Of Oz? That famous story, written by L. Frank Baum and filmed starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, featured a tornado that swept her and her dog Toby from Kansas (Land of Ahhs – get it?) to the magical Land of Oz.
Kansas really is the stuff of magical fairy tales!
Quick Fun Facts About Kansas
Kansas was the 34th state to enter the union, in 1861.
Smith County is the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states.
In Sumner County, Kansas, Milan is less than 25 miles northwest of Rome.
‘Home On the Range’ is the official song of the state of Kansas.
At some point, it was against the law to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas.
Barton County is the only Kansas County that is named after a woman, who is the famous volunteer Civil War nurse Clara Barton.
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