If you only have a couple hours to stop by and see some of the interesting sights in Hays, we would recommend taking a short driving tour to see several of the historic places throughout our community.
Mount Allen Cemetery
You can start at 27th and Vine and drive by the Mount Allen Cemetery, then continue onto the Boot Hill Cemetery, which is located at 18th & Fort. Both of these locations are historically significant landmarks going back to the early days of Hays.
Fort Street was the main road leading from the town of Hays to the Fort Hays military post. You will notice this street gradually slopes to Big Creek, located on the southern edge of Hays, which was the northern border of the Fort.
Kennedy Middle School
Along Fort Street, you will see Kennedy Middle School, named after Senator John F. Kennedy who visited Hays on Nov. 20, 1959, during his successful presidential campaign. At the time of Senator Kennedy's visit, the school was still called Jefferson West. It was later renamed Kennedy School in 1969 in honor of the late president. The school is now closed.
The area near 13th and Fort was known as "Gospel Hill" because of the concentration of churches located at one time in this area. Today in this area of downtown Hays, the Baptist and Catholic churches continue to have active congregations and their churches are visible near this intersection.
Ellis County Courthouse
Other sights you will see downtown are the Ellis County Courthouse and the Downtown Historical Markers. Turning left onto 8th Street, you are now traveling a road that was used by thousands of travelers coming through western Kansas. Before the arrival of the interstate in 1969, Highway 40 (8th Street) was the main east-west road through Hays.
George Philip Hardware Building
At the southwest corner of 8th and Main is the George Philip hardware building. Initially built in 1874, as a dry goods store by Hill P. Wilson, this stone building was home of the government land office from 1875 until 1877. In 1894, the building was acquired by the Philip family, and for 103 years four generations of the family operated it as a hardware store. Main Street is a vibrant part of the community with unique retail shops, specialty stores, and the Hays Public Library located at 1205 Main.
You will also find the Railroad Park & Downtown Pavilion, Liquid Bread Microbrewery, the Hays Arts Center Gallery, and a unique day spa – Salon Ten-0-Seven. You'll want to stop and do some sightseeing/shopping before you venture to your next point of interest, the Ellis County Historical Museum. On the north side of 7th Street, you will also notice the Volga German Haus, a small dwelling built of native stone similar to the homes used by the Volga Germans that settled in Ellis County in the late 1870's.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is located at the west end of 7th Street and the beautiful campus has many buildings built of native limestone that was locally quarried. Founded in 1902, the university sits on a campus of 4,160 acres of land that once was part of the Fort Hays Military Post. Make sure to drive past Lewis Field Stadium and Frontier Park on your way to see the buffalo herd and the Fort Hays Historic Site.
The mighty buffalo once roamed the prairies of Kansas and numbered in the millions before the arrival of the railroads and buffalo hunters. As you drive by the fort, you will notice the large statue Monarch of the Plains, hand crafted by Pete Felten, that greets visitors along the Highway 183 by-pass.
One more stop to see is the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, located near 27th and Canterbury on the northeast edge of Hays. This unique dome shaped building has one of the most impressive Cretaceous Period Fossil Collections in North America.