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Heartland States Of America

Looking for the unusual, the unique, the amazing? For endless horizons and picturesque small towns and attractive metropolises inhabited by a very special kind of people? Then Kansas and Oklahoma are exactly the right place for you.

These two neighbouring states constitute the ‘heart’ of the US and are part of the Great Plains, the wide grasslands between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Between them, they offer a large range of very special natural and cultural experiences plus warm hospitality – people are welcoming, caring and witty, and cowboys and American Indians are not a tourist attraction, but part of everyday life.

Route 66 – America’s most famous road has many names including America’s Main Street, Queen of Highways and Mother Road, but also a mythical ring associated with Harley’s and classic cars, vast distances and the setting sun. Although it was officially decommissioned in 1985 and swallowed up by the modern highway system, 640km can still be found in Oklahoma with another short section in southeast Kansas. Experts consider the Oklahoma section of Route 66, which follows the I-44 highway to Oklahoma City and then the I-40 further westward, one of the best preserved between Chicago and Los Angeles. A lazy country drive passes neon-lit diners, Mom & Pop stores and old petrol stations. Even on the short 21km section in Kansas – between Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs – there are attractions such as Four Women on the Route, a diner in an old petrol station in Galena and Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs.

America's Breadbasket - Kansas

The name of Kansas traces back to the Kanza or Kaw Indians, who call themselves ‘People of the South Wind’. Nineteenth-century explorer Zebulon Pike named the land ‘The Great American Desert’ – a region inappropriate for settlement – although it eventually became ‘America’s Breadbasket’, an area of cattle ranches and farms with parts of the original prairie preserved as the only remaining virgin Tallgrass Prairie in North America.

Land of the Red People - Oklahoma

‘Okla homma’ – ‘Red People’ is what the Choctaw American Indians originally called the native population and that’s the name that was given to the area when it became America’s 46th state in 1907. Before that, in 1803, Oklahoma had been declared ‘Indian Territory’ by US President Thomas Jefferson, who had acquired from Napoleon huge portions of land reaching from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains.

Oklahoma also was the final destination for the involuntary ‘Trail of Tears’ resettlement of American Indian tribes from the eastern US in 1838/1839. In addition to the first tribes being relocated here – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, known as the ‘Five Civilized Tribes’ — there were other tribal groups, and today 39 American Indian Nations have tribal headquarters in Oklahoma, none of them living on reservations.

A trip into unknown country

Travelling in Kansas and Oklahoma provides an introduction to the authentic cultures of American Indians and cowboys, but you’ll also get to know pioneers and oil magnates and to explore a variety of ecosystems. The major natural feature is the prairie; however, the landscape ranges from grassland and mountains to lakes and woods – even the internationally significant Kansas Wetlands, a paradise for ornithologists, are to be found here.Historically and culturally the region is colourful with a broad range of fascinating events and exciting chapters of history. Travellers interested in the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon/California Trail, Route 66, the Trail of Tears, the Underground Railroad or the Chisholm Trail can delve into the subject to make it all come alive.

Heartland States of America

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