Visit the Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village for a fascinating glimpse into the past. Located on five acres, just south of Great Bend on US Highway 281, across the Arkansas River Bridge, the Village boasts several authentically furnished period buildings and collections which tell the story of this area from the Paleo Period through the Indian Wars to World War II and beyond.
Permanent and rotating exhibits include:
- Over 300 dolls, dating from the 1850s
- Dioramas and archaeological artifacts illustrating the Native American cultures of the region
- Significant textile collections, featuring quilts, lace-making and wedding dresses
- A salute to the Brit Spaugh Park & Zoo
- Medical and dental offices, beauty and barber shops, a General Store, Victorian parlor, etc.
- Blacksmith's Shop
- Antique tractors and agricultural implements
- Military history from the Indian Wars through World War II
Special collections, including the large quilt collection, may be viewed by special appointment. For further information, please telephone the museum or e-mail: bchsdirector at gmail.com
Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Site
From Plum Buttes to the Walnut Creek Crossing, from the "great bend" of the Arkansas River to Pawnee Rock, the area that is now Barton County played a major role in the history of the Santa Fe Trail. Collections and displays maintained by the Historical Society illustrate life in the Native American villages, the trading posts, Fort Zarah and the coming of European settlement.The Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs from Missouri through Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. The Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village has received certification from the National Park Service as an official SFT Interpretive Site.
The Santa Fe Trail Association, a major partner with the National Park Service, is a national organization dedicated to preserving resources and fostering public awareness and appreciation of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.
B-29 Bombers and Great Bend Army Air field
During World War II, Great Bend Army Air Field trained many members of "the greatest generation," the pilots and crew members who flew the B-26 and B-29 planes that helped win the war. The Historical Society maintains a collection of memorabilia, memoirs and artifacts telling the story of this defining era in Kansas and United States history. Great Bend Airport and Industrial Park now occupies the site of the Great Bend Army Air Field.
In the fall of 1997, the B-29 Memorial Plaza Committee was formed to design and build the B-29 Memorial as a monument to the men and women who fought "the Battle of Kansas." Designed by veterans Richard Bergen and Gene Hinde, the intersecting arches rising from the ground represent the emblem of the Global 20th Air Force. Looking up through the arches gives one the impression of looking through the nose of the B-29. The centerpiece of the memorial is the sculpture of a B-29, cast in stainless steel. Around the memorial, bronze plaques, inscribed bricks and flagpoles serve as individual memorials to our veterans.