Hays (I-70 & Hwy 183) to Lebanon (Hwy 36 & 191), the Fort to Fort Road Trip offers something for everyone. You’ll find fun, history, architecture and enjoy the outdoors. American history buffs can return to the past at Fort Bissell and Museum in Phillipsburg and the Fort Hays State Historic site at Fort Hays State University. Fort Bissell was built, not for the military but for the protection of the settlers and Fort Hays, originally named Fort Fletcher, was a United States army fort active from 1865 to 1889.
There’s plenty to see and do for the outdoor lover. Webster State Park’s 3,700 acres of open water is a prime destination for water sports, fishing and camping. Visitors often see turkey, quail, pheasant and deer as well as waterfowl and shore birds. The Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge is also a great place to see prairie wildlife and wildflowers. Birdwatchers will want to visit early morning or just before sunset. The Refuge provides food, shelter, and habitat for migratory grassland and tree-dwelling birds, waterfowl, and shorebirds including the sandhill crane and the endangered whooping crane. You may also spot Canada geese, northern pintail, American wigeon, mallards, greater prairie chickens, western meadowlarks, great blue herons, and eagles. Enjoy walking, hiking, fishing, hunting, bicycling, or just driving the Refuge.
While in Hays, head downtown and take the Historic Walking Tour. Twenty-five bronze plaques mark the route sharing the history and stories of the of the buildings and people who walked the streets in the 1860’s to the 1880’s, like James Butler Hickock, William Fredrick Cody and General George Armstrong Custer. Then head over to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History where the kids will love hearing a T-Rex roar. Along with their permanent exhibits and educational displays, temporary exhibits are offered throughout the year.
For the architecturally inspired, tour the spectacular Basilica of St. Fidelus, known as the “Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria. Other treasures include the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Pfeifer and Ash Rock Church near Woodston, which is made of limestone from Fort Hays.
Local area history and art museums also offer great stops along the route. In addition to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, the Dane G Hansen Museum in Logan hosts monthly “Artist of the Month” displays, and fabulous traveling exhibits from near and far. Mr. Hansen’s family collection of art, coins and guns is on permanent display. You’ll be greeted at the door by the local security guard (life-like display) on duty 24/7 365 days a year. Railroad enthusiasts can watch the fantastic O-scale rail run in the C&R Railroad Museum at the Huck Boyd Center in Phillipsburg.
AND… a little off the beaten path, but well worth the stop, everyone will want to visit the “Home on the Range Cabin”, where our state song was born, and the Geographic Center of the 48 states in Smith Center.