We brake for just about every historical marker we see when we’re gallivanting and we’re never ever going to give up this habit. Never! Luckily for us, we got our brakes checked before our trip to Eastern Kansas because there was plenty of stops along the way to see our favorite pit stops. Museums, military and a failed “escape” highlights our trip to Leavenworth!
Let’s mix a little fun in with our history absorption of the First City in Kansas. The Escape Game Leavenworth is located in an old bank and features a speakeasy theme, in the escape room, that is above what used to be an actual speakeasy back in the 1920’s. The crew here gives clues on how you can escape from the situation in the time allotted. Each clue leads you to victory if you can only wrap your mind around it! This is great for a family, date night or even a team build to see how you can work together in a crisis. We didn’t meet the deadline and hence got caught by the feds. Who operates a speakeasy just down the street from a prison anyway???
If you grew up loving the carousel, there’s a very good chance you have Leavenworth to thank for it. The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum is an institution here and it doesn’t matter what age you are, you’ll find yourself loving what the volunteers do here. Countless hours of their free time are poured into preserving, curating and operating a museum dedicated to the history of carousels golden age. Passion can be observed anywhere and it’s exuded here in a special way. Folks like this will always be my heroes.
Another group of heroes is quite literally stationed right here in town along the banks of the Missouri. Fort Leavenworth called to us in so many ways with its history on the area, the US Army and our country. It’s a huge base and you could spend days here taking in the legendary fort. Museums, art, relics and sculptures are everywhere here. We enjoyed all that we saw but what will almost guarantee a return trip is below.
Heartbreaking. Confusion. Absolute gratefulness and gratitude. This and much more swept through us at the Leavenworth National Cemetery. These grounds, wherever they may be, will always bring out emotions on many levels. Many of the same feelings I had here were familiar as this wasn’t the first National Cemetery I’ve been to. What was different was the headstone I saw that said Unknown Soldier. Also not the first time I’ve seen one. Then I looked to our left and saw the second, third, fourth and then rows and rows of our troops resting without a name. Rows of them. This was the first for me seeing these ultimate sacrifices of this magnitude. Each soldier is different but there’s a common story with all of them. There was a family that saw a son leave home and they never found out where he could have gone and wondered if he’d ever come home. For this I will do my best to return here and visit as many of these troops as possible.
I love a history lesson while I shop and the decades of military culture in Leavenworth is on full display at Overlooked Antiques & Military Surplus. Want a quick meal? Grab a handful of MREs made recently or as far back from WWII. Boots, uniforms, and some very rare supplies are here to buy and some are kept just for observing. A local Marine Corps Vet has his medals and incredible story behind glass here and how he survived being shot in the head during combat and was still able to live out a long life in Leavenworth. You can click on the document above and read about his unbelievable story.
The first city in Kansas means they have the first public park in Kansas. Along the same river that Lewis and Clark explored is North Esplanade Park and its views are some of the best in Eastern Kansas. The park is flanked by the Missouri and their neighborhood of beautiful homes with many of them built in the 1800’s when Kansas was just getting started as a major western American town. The walk you take on Esplanade will show you a history of Kansas’ pioneering past, railroad importance, architecture and that infamous big muddy flowing past you during your stroll.
Leavenworth’s importance to our past is paving way to the future we have here. A city with contentiously flowing Missouri River that brought in the Corps of Discovery and the impending western expansion is now bringing in thousands of visitors to learn about it. An Army base with an ever changing garrison brings its own groups of Leavenworth enthusiasts as it always has, even when it was a proud fort built from logs. Choctaw, Cherokee, Delaware, Shawnee, Osage, Miami, and more streets named after America’s native people are home to long established businesses while welcoming in new entrepreneurs that are building the economic horizons here in Leavenworth. Block after block has something that helps gallivanters like us enjoy this historic town even more and only adds to the incredible history of the First City in Kansas. We’ll see you again, Leavenworth!