In the Morning
Shortly after the Civil War, railroad workers and settlers began pushing into Western Kansas with ever-increasing intensity, provoking resistance from the Indian inhabitants of the area. To provide protection for this citizenry of railroad workers, soldiers and desperados, Fort Hays was established in 1867 and the city of Hays sprang to life on the plains.
This wild and lawless town soon became the home for such infamous characters as "Wild Bill" Hickok, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, George Custer and Calamity Jane. The city of Hays can boast a true "Wild West History."
To begin the day you will be taking a guided city tour that will provide an overall sketch of Hays' historic attractions:
- The original Boot Hill Cemetery
- Old Hays City
- Rome Townsite
- Hangman's Bridge
- Buffalo Herd
Historic Fort Hays
Next, a one hour guided tour of Historic Fort Hays will open windows to a fascinating glimpse of life on a frontier military outpost. Visit the unique Fort Hays blockhouse and retrace the steps of Philip Sheridan, George Custer and the Forts' "Buffalo Soldiers." A visit to the guardhouse will focus on army punishments of the day. The furnishings of the officer's quarters will illustrate the privileges the rank permitted.
KSU AG Research Center
Adjacent to the Fort you will find a scenic, tree-lined drive leading visitors to the KSU AG Research Center. The Center, established in 1901, owns or leases more than 3,700 acres making it one of the oldest and largest research centers in the United States. Your tour guide will share information about the research being conducted in wheat, sorghum, beef production and the outstanding contributions the Center has made to the field of Agriculture.
In the Afternoon
In the afternoon, you will be touring the Ellis County Historical Museum which includes the Harness shop and the Volga German House. You will be learning about our communities' settlers and rich ethnic heritage. Your tour features a one hour visit to a reconstructed home lived in by Volga German settlers, an ethnic group that settled in Ellis County. These people were German speaking Catholics who migrated here from the Volga River area of Russia in the 1870's.
The Basilica of St. Fidelis, "The Cathedral of the Plains"
Next, you will take a short drive to the small village of Victoria, where you will be visiting The Basilica St. Fidelis Church, more commonly referred to as the "Cathedral of the Plains", a towering monument to the Volga German immigrants and their enduring lifestyle. Constructed of native limestone, this Romanesque structure, built in 1911, features twin towers rising 141 feet above the plains.
We might suggest you make special arrangements for a real treat at Gella's. You will enjoy Volga German food, brats and beer.