Hittin’ the Historic Roads of Trego County

Summer vacation is here and it’s time to hit the road and explore the beautiful Great Plains of Western Kansas!

There are many wonderful places to visit in Trego County—the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway, Cedar Bluff State Park, and Downtown WaKeeney—but did you know when you travel across Trego County to see these great places you are actually traveling on historic landmarks, too?

Cedar Bluff Maximilian sunflowers

Smoky Hill Trail

When the very first travelers began crossing the Great Plains they were mostly on their own. No maps, no guidebooks, no hint of where the next turn would take them. Word-of-mouth was their guide in those days, and the unmapped, 500-mile route they typically followed was called the Smoky Hill Trail. It was fraught with danger. Word of deadly animal encounters, dehydration, and hostile native people protecting their land soon gave the route a bad reputation and people traveling west determined a longer, northern route was a better option.

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The Butterfield Overland Trail

Seeing opportunity in the increasing desire to “Go West,” an entrepreneur from Atchison, KS named David A. Butterfield set out to establish a faster route to Denver. He mapped a route across the Great Plains in 1865 and built several “home stations” along the route (Trego County claims six of those stations; Bluffton, Stormy Hollow Station, White Rock Station, Downer Station, Ruthton Station and Castle Rock Creek Station). Soon he was advertising passage on his Butterfield Overland Despatch (BOD) stagecoach for $175 a person and fifty-cents to a dollar for a meal.

Trego County claims a 21-mile stretch of what was billed as the “fastest route to the Colorado goldmines,” and modern-day historians can visit commemorative guideposts placed along the trail’s route in the 1960s at points where today’s north/south roads intersect the BOD trail. The guideposts extend beyond our county’s borders from Ellsworth, KS, to the state line, providing modern-day adventurers the opportunity to follow in the path the early pioneers took across our state, with the exception of the first 63-miles.

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US Highway 40

For those who love easy drives along scenic country roads, consider taking the road less traveled and turn your car down US Highway 40.

The once paved road was at one time the main artery between Ogallah, WaKeeney, and Collyer, Trego County’s largest towns. Now, it provides travelers an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the sights, surrounded by shade trees in some spots and wide open landscape in others.

Built in 1926, Highway 40’s route roughly followed the same course as the Butterfield Overland Despatch Trail. Its construction marked a seminal moment in history for travel across America when larger, more reliable cars allowed more people to hit the road than ever before, and transcontinental movement was more accessible to everyone.

During America’s “Golden Age of Automobiling” in the 1950’s, Highway 40 carried more traffic than any other transcontinental highway in the United States, even gaining recognition as a Blue Star Memorial Highway in 1951.

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Interstate 70

Today, the road most traveled is Interstate 70, a road first envisioned on the battlefield of World War II.

During his time leading the troops in Europe, Kansas native President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the value of an interconnecting, paved road that could support military movements, trade, and public transportation needs. He commissioned his teams to map the fastest and most easily traversed routes possible and they found the Great Plains’ landscape fit the requirements perfectly. In 1956 construction began on “the Main Street of Kansas,” and ever since it’s played a huge role in our county’s communities.

Stop by Eisenhower Park at WaKeeney’s West Exit #127 to enjoy our monument to the president who brought American travelers to our city’s front door.


Enjoy the Journey, and the Destination

People say that it’s not only the destination, but also the journey that makes a trip worthwhile, and those words ring true when traveling over the historic roads of Trego County. You will find that whichever route you choose you’ll be following© in the footsteps of people who helped develop this great nation over the last 150-years.

This summer set out on a trip through time to explore the historic roads of Trego County!

Check out these great WaKeeney hotels and campgrounds the next time you travel on these historic Trego County Roads.

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Best Western Plus WaKeeney Inn & Suites

525 1st St., (785) 743-2700

Best Western Plus WaKeeney Inn & Suites is located on the north side of I-70’s West Exit #127, has an indoor pool and fitness center, laundry facilities, a business center and free WiFi in every room. Adjoining rooms are perfect for families. A full breakfast includes pastries and waffles, fresh fruits, cereal, yogurt, juice and 100% Arabica coffee.

Bryant Motel

219 Barclay Ave.,/I-70 Business Loop, (785) 743-5202

Bryant Motel 50-year old motel is a classic roadside lodging option. It’s located on WaKeeney’s I-70 Business Loop and offers cable TV and WiFi Internet access, free local calls, a microwave and a refrigerator. The locally owned and operated motel has clean, comfortable rooms at reasonable rates, and pets are welcome, too!

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Butterfield Trail Bunkhouse

23033 T Road, (785) 769-3194

Nature lovers, history enthusiasts, hunters and fishers love the Butterflied Trail Bunkhouse. This year-round, country retreat is located on the Butterfield Overland Despatch Trail near the Smoky Hill River and Smoky Valley Scenic Byway, and wagon ruts from the Butterfield Overland Despatch stagecoaches can be found nearby. The Bunkhouse is a non-traditional bed and breakfast set on a farm, with wildlife all around. The bunkhouse sleeps up to four and has a full kitchen and bath, with microwave, coffee maker, and cooking utensils. A different breakfast is provided each morning; with entrée, fruit, pastries and coffee and juice, with every effort to accommodate special dietary needs.

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Econo Lodge

705 South 2nd St., (785) 743-5505

Econo Lodge is a pet-friendly, affordable hotel, clean, with comfortable rooms that include coffee makers, free WiFi, televisions and mini-fridges. There is on-site parking for buses and RVs and we proudly support “green” hotel practices. Econo Lodge is located on the south side of I-70 at WaKeeney’s West Exit #127.

Kansas Kountry Inn,

223 S 1st St./I-70 Exit #127, (785) 743-2129

Kansas Kountry Inn located two blocks of I-70’s west Exit #127 next to Jake and Chet’s Café. It’s a moderately priced motel with WiFi Internet access and “at-door” parking for vehicles and boats. Pets are also welcome.

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Photo courtesy of Expedia.com.

Super 8

709 S 13th St., (785) 743-6442

Located off I-70 at Exit #128, all the rooms and suites at Super 8 include en-suite bathrooms, TVs, free WiFi, and a mini-fridge and microwave. A complimentary continental breakfast is served every morning and other on-site amenities include a laundromat, a business center and free parking for large vehicles. Kids 17 and under stay free with an adult.

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WaKeeney KOA Kampground

25027 S Interstate, (785) 743-5612

The WaKeeney KOA Kampground is full of amenities for RV and traditional campers. Large pull-thru sites accommodate RVs up to 80’ and grassy tent sites are large and private. The cabins are located near laundry, restroom and shower facilities, and WiFi is accessible throughout the park. A swimming pool and dog park are on-site, and “Sophie’s Kitchen” serves a pancake breakfast every morning and ice cream every summer night. The campground is the recipient of the KOA President’s Award & the KOA Founder’s Award each year for six years in a row (2012-2017). The KOA campground is located south of I-70’s West Exit #127


“Biking Across Kansas” Cyclists Roll Into WaKeeney

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There’s nothing like hittin’ the road for a long distance ride along our beautiful Trego County landscape. On June 11th and 12th over seven hundred cyclists will do just that as they continue their ride during the annual “Biking Across Kansas” (BAK) cycling tour.


This is the second time the predetermined route has been mapped through our county. Thirty-five years ago, in 1982, WaKeeney played host to the BAK cyclists and we’re excited to welcome them back a second time.

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The group of between 700-800 riders, aged 9-90, will ride into town from the south on Hwy. 283, spending the night in WaKeeney before continuing on northeast to their next stop in Plainville, but not before seeing the best our county has to offer when we welcome them at our “Party in the Park!”

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“Party in the Park”

The event will be held at the Swimming Pool Park from 1pm to 8pm, with activities, food, drinks, and lots of fun ready for all! WaKeeney’s restaurants and many of our retail stores around town will stay open, with special hours on Sunday, and a “pop up” food court sponsored by local businesses and organizations will be set up in the park from 1-8pm for riders and spectators. Look for these yummy treats and their sponsors at the park:

  • Beer garden and brats – Eagles Lodge
  • Hamburgers & hot dogs – K-18 Baseball Teams
  • Bottled water, lemonade, ice tea & Snacks – Keeney Queens Red Hats
  • Beef/chicken & noodles, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and bread – Leap of Faith
  • Smoked meats & sides – Rods and Ribs BBQ
  • Snow cones – Sno Days
  • Homemade baked goods, pies, cakes, & cookies – Trego County 4-H Clubs
  • Soft-serve Ice Cream – Trego Manor
  • Sloppy Joes, salads, & desserts – United Methodist Church, Eve Circle (serving from 5–8pm)

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June 11th Activities

In addition to that, participants can cool off at the WaKeeney Water Park & Pool (1-8pm), visit the Trego County Historical Museum (1-6pm, free entrance), enjoy a handmade soda at Gibson Healthmart’s old-fashioned soda fountain (1-5pm), or attend a wine tasting at The Studio & Kansas Art Gallery, where wines from Shiloh Vineyard, Trego County’s only vineyard, will be featured (1-5pm).

Later in the day there will be a Washer Tournament sponsored by WaKeeney Federated Wrestling Club at the Swimming Pool Park and the band “Gypsy KS” (formerly Flatland Band) will play bluegrass, country and rock n roll at a free concert (1–8 pm and sponsored by Biking Across Kansas, WaKeeney Lions Club and WaKeeney Travel & Tourism.)

Overnight indoor and outdoor camping accommodations are being readied at the Trego Community High School gym and practice field, and of course our local hotels and campground are happy to provide comfortable accommodations, too.

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June 12th Activities

The next morning the people of WaKeeney will say good-bye to the cyclists at the Trego County Fairgrounds’ Commercial Building at a biscuits and sausage gravy breakfast sponsored by the Trego County Historical Society from 5:30-8:30am. (Vegan options available.)

It’ll be an exciting weekend as WaKeeney welcomes cyclists from across the United States in their third stretch of the annual “Biking Across Kansas” ride on June 11th and 12th. Join us in cheering them on at the Swimming Pool Park, where you’ll be able to get in on the fun, games, and great food that will showcase the best of Trego County!

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Summer Fun Abounds at Cedar Bluff State Park

Summer is here and there’s no better place to spend your weekends than at Cedar Bluff State Park, where fun is found every day of the week!

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Of course, we all love the many water sports you can take part in at the lake. Jet skiing, water boarding and skiing are just many of the fun activities you’ll find at our active state park, but did you know there is even more to explore outside the water? Check out all these great summer events at Trego County’s Cedar Bluff State Park.

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Pull Up to the “Cruise In” Car Show (May 20)

Come on down to the lake between 11am to 3pm to see the best in refurbished antique cars at the “Cruise in” Car Show. The event will be held in the North Shore Park and will feature cars, trucks, and motorcycles that have come to the park from around the country. A donation of $25 per vehicle includes a vehicle day permit and two tickets for $5 off at Rods and Ribs traveling BBQ truck. Stick around for a chance to win a door prize!

The Jr. Camper’s Club Returns (May 27 to August 19)

The Jr. Camper’s Club will run throughout the summer every other Saturday at 11am. We expect a lot of young rangers to join us during this popular series for hiking, fishing, gardening, camping, wildlife education, and a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a state park. Snacks will be provided.

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Drop Your Lines During the Free Fishing Weekend (June 3-4)

Mark your calendars for Free Fishing Weekend! The lake is filled with fish just waiting to be caught. Crappie, walleye, and white bass are looking for a hook and you don’t want to miss out on reeling those big fish out of the water! No fishing license required.

Cedar Bluff’s “OK Kids Day” Returns (June 10)

The OK Kids Day (Outdoor Kansas Kids Day) is chock full of great activities meant to entertain and educate kids about all the great things to be experienced at Cedar Bluff. The day starts at 9am with a fishing derby in Pa’s Pond, where kids can enjoy the thrill of catching the “big one” in the stocked pond. Afterwards, there’ll be a free hot dog feed, a presentation by representatives from the Sternburg Museum, an “Amazing Race” competition the state park way, a jet ski simulator and laser hunt, and minnow catching for the younger kids. The free event lasts until 4pm and families are invited to join in with the kids. (Free vehicle entry all day.)

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Bring your families and enjoy the beauty and fun you’ll find this summer at Cedar Bluff State Park!

Are You Ready for Summer? The Trego Rec Center Has You Covered

Schools out for summer! Trego County kids are ready to stretch their legs and get outside. Of course, parents want to keep them busy with fun and entertaining activities and the busy folks at the Trego Recreation Center (TRC) has a full roster of things to keep the whole family active throughout their summer vacation.

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TRC Summer Kids Program

The TRC will be hosting a Kids’ Summer Program at their 512 Caroline Avenue facility. Open to kindergartners to 5th graders, it’s designed to keep kid’s bodies, brains and spirit active throughout the summer months. This daily program includes activities that will expose kids to arts and crafts, physical activities, and even a CPR class for the older kids, all for only $15 a week! (No TRC membership needed to participate.)

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Baseball and Softball Leagues

WaKeeney’s baseball and softball leagues are ready to hit the diamonds at our North and South fields. There is a long tradition of summer ballgames at these fields and this year is sure to bring more exciting games between our teams.

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WaKeeney Water Park

Keep cool at our city’s very own tropical paradise! The WaKeeney Water Park will be open and ready for sun worshippers on Sunday, May 28th (hours are 1pm to 5pm daily and Tuesday & Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8pm), and all your favorite features will be waiting to cool you off. Spend a lazy afternoon under in the shade of one of our umbrellas or take a trip on the wild slide down our two-story water slide. (Contact (785) 743-2167 for more information.)

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The Trego Recreation Center

The year-round, indoor tennis court hosts weekly yoga classes and will soon be offering tumbling classes (check back with TRC for more details). For more information about the TRC’s summer programs contact Mitzi Fagan at (785) 743-2595 or email at 208rec@ruraltel.net, then sign up for a membership to the Trego Recreation Center for access to the weight and cardio rooms and all the classes offered throughout the year.


WaKeeney Mini Speedway Roars to Life for the 2017 Season

Does the sound of an engine get your blood pumping? Does time at the track sound like a perfect way to spend the day with your family? Then mark your calendars for the start of another season of competitive gokart racing at the WaKeeney Mini Speedway!

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The checkered flag will drop on Friday, April 28th and Saturday, April 29th to open another season of the Maxxis Midwest Series. We’re expecting returning and new racers who are ready to entertain us with family-friendly, fun competition during the first full weekend of the racing season.

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Twelve single day and weekend races are scheduled for the 2017 season, and several different classes are featured at each race, with trophies awarded to winners of each class:

ROOKIE ( – Age 6 – 8)

Junior 1 NON Points Class (Age 8 – 12)

Junior 1 POINTS Class ( (Age 8 – 12)

Junior 2 NON Points (Age 12 – 15)

Junior 2 POINTS Class (Age 12 – 15)

Adult STOCK HEAVY (Age 16 – UP)

Adult CLONE HEAVY  (Age 16 – UP)

OPEN  – Age 16 & UP

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Spectators from across the state will be filling the stands to watch kart drivers test their skills on our oval track. The WaKeeney Mini Speedway is conveniently located at the crossroads of Hwy. 40 and Hwy. 283, just north of the I-70,128 Exit.

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Come out to WaKeeney Friday, April 28th and 29th to see the racers usher in another season of gokart racing. Join us in the stands and around the track with free entry for the public, or purchase a pit pass to get up close with the drivers and their karts prior to the start of the race (pits are open to ticket holders at noon.) Check out the WaKeeney Mini Speedway website for more information.

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The Trego County Recreation Center Hosts Two Great Events in April

Get out your calendars because WaKeeney will really be hopping this month, with great community-sponsored events!

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Spring has sprung, and that means the Easter Bunny will soon be delivering his beautiful eggs to our kids at the Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Downtown WaKeeney!

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The hunt begins this Saturday, April 15th at 10:30am at the Trego County Courthouse Square with five different age groups taking turns searching the grounds for those colorful, candy-filled eggs our kids crave. The event is open to all kids, with groups of toddlers to two year olds, threes and fours, five and six year olds, ages seven and eight and nine and ten year olds taking turns searching the grounds. Bring your own basket or bag and stick around after the eggs have all been found to receive additional prizes, including a gift certificate for a free ice cream cone from our local McDonalds.

 Trego - Health Fair

Come out on Saturday, April 22nd to meet with the doctors, nurses and staff from Trego County Lemke Memorial Hospital and the WaKeeney and Ellis Family Care Centers when they present the Health Fair 2017.

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Hosted by the Trego County Recreation Commission, this event is aimed at promoting a healthy, active lifestyle. Many areas of health will be represented; counseling, blood pressure checks and massage therapy, stress, weight, skin and chiropractic screenings, and cholesterol and diabetes testing (be sure to fast for twelve hours prior for the best chance at a good reading). You will also have a chance to uncover your “Health Age.” This will provide you with an overview of how your health measures up according to others in your age group.

The Trego Lemke Memorial Hospital’s “Health Fair 2017” will run from 8am to 11am on Saturday, April 22nd at the Trego County Recreation Commission office at 512 Caroline Avenue You can find out more by calling the hospital or either the WaKeeney or Ellis clinics.

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WaKeeney’s Memorial to the Veterans of Iwo Jima

When visitors arrive in WaKeeney and turn off I-70’s Exit 128 one of the first things they’ll notice is the silhouette of a very famous image that illustrates one of the most important Allied victories of World War II.

Iwo Jima Memorial

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal was an international sensation when it was published in 1945, winning the Pulitzer Prize for photography that year and becoming the iconic image we still associate with the successful Allied invasion of Japan and the determination and strength of the American soldier. It was a hard fought battle that ended on March 26th and turned the tide on the war in the Pacific toward our eventual victory.

The Memorial to Iwo Jima acts as a base for the stars and stripes to unfurl in our famous Kansas wind—a suitable welcome into our city where only a mile north on Hwy. 283 you’ll find the Kansas Veterans Cemetery where members from every branch of the military are interred.

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WaKeeney’s monument to the soldiers of World War II was originally placed at the entrance to the planned site of WaKeeney’s Kansas Veterans Cemetery. It was designed and created by local volunteers and veterans and paid for through donations that came from across the United States. At the start of the cemetery’s construction the memorial was moved to its current location and the American Legion Moore Post #197 held a formal dedication on November 9, 2007.

Today, the Memorial to Iwo Jima is one of the first things all visitors to WaKeeney see when they turn off I-70. It’s one of several memorials to the strength, courage, and great achievements of our military men and women that we’re proud to display.

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We invite all who are interested in remembering their sacrifices to visit the Memorial to Iwo Jima and all our other military memorials when visiting WaKeeney, including the Kansas Veteran’s Cemetery.