Welcome back. From Wagner to Claremore to Grove to Tulsa to Wichita and then Topeka, I know Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell or was it Bob Wills someone must have written a song about a similar trip. This weekend I’m headed to Wichita and I’m excited. For our generation Wichita is known for its big aviation industries. It’s no secret that since 1929 in the aviation business this town has been referred to as the ‘Air Capital of the World.” Cessna, Stearman, Beechcraft, Boeing, even the U.S.military and the famous B-29 bombers all have history here. The aviation industry got its start in 1914 with the discovery of oil and gas in the area when the wealth created from that industry led to investments in aviation. During that time Wichita saw massive growth with twelve refineries either operating or under construction. The aviation industry was growing fast too and for this young town I’m now headed for there was no turning back. But you regular readers know me, I want to know some of the old stuff about the early years in Wichita’s history.
Around 1541, close to five hundred years ago, a Spanish expedition discovered what would be called the Wiehita people in the region. This part of the country was later claimed by France until the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In 1854 the area became known as the Kansas territory and finally in 1861 became the state of Kansas.
Wichita started as a trading post established by Jesse Chisholm for the cowboys driving cattle up from Texas and when the railroad came through this little settlement soon was full of wild cowboys and dozens of entertainment venues. According to dozens of books it took the famed gunman Wyatt Earp to settle the town down.
The 1870s brought three major train lines into town as more and more Texas cattle were driven along the Chisholm Trail. Back then most just called the town Cowtown because of all the cattle coming through but it’s not just cows anymore. With world class sports complexes and museums, corporate headquarters and a great public transportation system, I think you’ll see why I’m looking forward to my visit to the town where John Wayne made Jesse Chisholm famous in the movies. I’ll bring you more on my Wichita visit next week.
If you are looking for real cowboy history put April 21st and 22nd on your calendar for a yearly party that has become a tradition with me. It’s called the Western Heritage Awards Weekend and it’s held in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Celebrities you bet there will be plenty as well as lots of good food and entertainment throughout the weekend. This party is a must but if you can’t come Saturday for the black tie gala be sure to come for the big Friday afternoon get together. Cowboy clothes and your best western bling is the attire for this great mingling event in a one of a kind venue. I truly guarantee you’ll like this one!
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….