Seniors Pass Through Great Bend

LogoGreat Bend, the Heart of Kansas, is named for its location at the point where the course of the Arkansas River bends east then southeast. The population today runs right at 16,000. Senior travelers learn that Great Bend was located on the National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, that was established in 1912. The famed Santa Fe Trail ran right through present-day Courthouse Square.

In 1541 Coronado, and the Spanish Conquistadors, passed through present day Great Bend, searching for the fabled 7 Cities of Cibola (Gold). Coronado thus established the white-man tradition of “passing through Great Bend”.


Coronado never found the 7 Cities of Gold, but he did discover the great bend on the Arkansas River. Indians, of course, already knew about a great bend on the Arkansas River (pronounced “ar-KAN-sas”). All of this happened while the Pilgrims were still in Europe.

Seniors Enjoy The History

Prior to settlement of the area, the site of Great Bend was located in the northern reaches of Kiowa territory. Claimed first by France as part of Louisiana and later acquired by the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, it laid within the area organized by the U.S. as Kansas Territory in 1854.

Kansas became a state in 1861, and the state government delineated the surrounding area as Barton County in 1867. The first settlers of the area arrived in 1870, living in sod houses and dugouts. They worked as buffalo hunters since trampling by bison herds precluded crop farming.


Agriculture is the predominant industry in Great Bend, and its huge grain elevators are visible from miles away. The oil industry flourished from about 1930-1960.

And get this…there was even an oil well located in the city park. But the oil industry has been on the decline for several years. Cattle is an important source of income for many people living in and around Great Bend.

Seniors Find Great Bend Peaceful

“It’s in our nature to play” is often heard in and around Great Bend. In a word, seniors find the place “peaceful.”  Senior visitors will see colorful murals scattered all over town. I’d want to visit the Raptor Center. Then I’d tour the Wildlife National Scenic Byway.


TripAdvisor suggests checking out Cheyenne Bottoms, a wetland in the central Great Plains of North America. Occupying approximately 41,000 acres in central Kansas, it is the largest wetland in the interior United States and easily accessible from Great Bend.

Senior visitors can venture out to the vast wetlands that bookend the town, Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Visit downtown Great Bend and stroll along the Birdhouse Art Walk and the Kansas Quilt Walk.

Great Bend offers senior visitors the broadest selection of food and lodging choices in the region and  a plethora of historic buildings.  Enjoy your stay. -jeb

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