KANSAS’ INDIAN CREEK TRAIL TRANSFORMED INTO HIKE THROUGH HISTORY
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – About 120 trails enthusiasts observed National Trails Day by attending the June 3, 2017, dedication of new interpretive panels that will turn the popular Indian Creek Trail into a “hike through history.” The first four panels of the Indian Creek Trail Interpretive Signage Project developed by Sunflower republic, LLC, under the auspices of the Johnson County Museum Foundation, had been installed in time for the Saturday morning ceremony in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. Missouri. Ultimately 13 of the panels are expected to be installed by Labor Day along the 10.1 mile stretch of the trail through southern Overland Park, in Johnson County, Kansas. “Today’s event makes the Indian Creek Trail one step closer to being transformed from a walk through Anywhere USA into a hike through history,” Henry Fortunato, Overland Park resident and founder of Sunflower Republic, LLC, told those assembled in Roe Park. Illustrated with vintage photographs, drawings and maps, each 3’x5’ research-rich panel features about eight stories or vignettes that detail the origins of principal roads across Johnson County. Those walking, running or biking the Indian Creek Trail will encounter panels where particular roads cross or intersect with the trail. “The street names became an excellent spine on which to hang these narratives,” Fortunato said. The Roe Avenue panel, for example, discusses the 19th century Irish immigrant John Roe, a cattleman who assembled a large stake of land in Missouri before coming to eastern Kansas and doing the same. The Quivira Road panel details the failed expedition of 16th century Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who searched modern-day central Kansas for the fabled city of gold called Quivira. The Pflumm Road panel summarizes the challenges faced by Norbert and Catharina Pflumm, who emigrated from Prussia in the 1860s and whose children and grandchildren helped shape the modern–day municipality of Shawnee, another Kansas City suburb. Trail users can examine a story or two on the panels, and then continue down the trail and – on the next day - stop at the same panel to read more. In this way, Johnson County trail users can cumulatively build a personal knowledge of their community’s history. This dynamic already was on display following Saturday’s ceremony, as curious hikers stopped and bicyclists pumped their brakes to examine the Roe Park panel, installed just west of Roe Avenue and steps away from Indian Creek’s banks. The panels, Fortunato added, “will foster a sense of place and a deeper understanding of how Johnson County, Kansas came to be what it is today.” Developed under the auspices of the Johnson County Museum Foundation, the project received funding from the Regnier Family Foundation, the Sunflower Foundation, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, Johnson County Library, and Johnson County Community College Foundation. The project also benefited from in-kind services from the Johnson County Museum, the Parks Services Division of the City of Overland Park, the Overland Park Historical Society, and the Lenexa Historical Society.
Overland Park, KS