Atchison

Overview

Introduction

The city of Atchison, 55 mi/90 km northwest of Kansas City, is probably best known from the popular song of the 1940s, On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, which celebrated the railway that passed through the town. (The railroad depot survives: It's now a visitors center downtown.) The Lewis and Clark expedition celebrated the first Independence Day west of the Mississippi along the banks of the Missouri River. The Riverfront Park was expanded and revitalized during the bicentennial celebrations.

Amelia Earhart, the famed aviator who disappeared in 1937 while trying to fly around the world, was born in Atchison. The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum is her childhood home (as well as one of the oldest houses in Atchison), and it contains memorabilia and artifacts from her life.

The International Forest of Friendship, a memorial to those who have contributed to aviation and space exploration, contains trees from all 50 states and more than 35 countries around the world—including one that grew from a seed taken to the moon on an Apollo mission. It also has memorials to astronauts who died in the line of duty.

St. Benedict's Abbey, established in the 1850s, contains a church designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Muchnic Art Gallery and Evah C. Cray Historical Home Museum, both built in the 1880s, show off the affluence of early Atchison, a major supply stop during westward expansion. A seasonal trolley tour highlights more architectural gems. The tour is especially popular in the fall when it becomes a "Haunted Trolley Tour."

Other reasons to visit Atchison include Nell Hill's, G. Diebolts and Garrity's Encore—popular shopping destinations for those seeking fine furniture, linens and accessories. Atchison is best seen as a day trip from Kansas City.

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