Museums in Cowley County

Several museums in Cowley County boasts a wonderful array of local historical pieces, artifacts, photos and displays referencing Cowley County and the communities within the County.

Burden – Eastern Cowley County Historical Society-Open by appointment only-call (620) 438.3384. Inside the original city hall of Burden local photos, documents, and historical information are available to viewing.

Udall – The Udall Community Historical Society Museum-109 East First St. (620) 782.3004. Open Wed 3-5 pm and Sun 1-3pm. This museum displays artifacts, historical pieces and information related to the history of the City of Udall and surrounding areas. The devastating tornado of 1955 is also memorialized at the museum.

Winfield – Cowley County Historical Society Museum-1011 Mansfield St. (620) 221.4811 Open Tues-Sat 1pm-4 pm. The museum is housed in Bryant School, the last of Winfield’s original elementary school buildings. The museum not only displays artifacts and photos of Winfield and Cowley County but maintains a large inventory of photos, news paper articles, and documents.

Arkansas City – Cherokee Strip Museum-31639 Hwy 77 (620) 442.6750 Visit Ark City maintains a page for the museum found here. Open Sunday 1pm-4pm, Monday, Tuesday Closed, Wednesday through Saturday 10am-5pm.

The Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum is a historical museum representing the Land Rush of 1893, Chilocco Indian School, BNSF, Warren Bunkhouse, and pioneer artifacts, among other historical events impacting the county. Also on site is the Bill Baird Memorial Pioneer Farm and Garden; a primary example of a farm at the turn of the 19th Century.

The museum also houses the Cowley County Genealogical Library. The library houses photos, Cowley County records, area newspaper obituaries,  birth, death and marriage records, reference materials, the Robert Docking collection and much more. A small fee is charged for access to the library.

In June 2015, archeologist Dr. Don Blakeslee led a wide-ranging field study in central and southern Kansas. One of his primary goals was to rediscover the long-lost Native American city of Etzanoa. 

He was successful.

The location, size, and significance of Etzanoa - or the "Great Settlement," as Spanish explorers labeled it after their 1601 expedition there - had become lost to the mists of time. For many decades, archeologists, debated these issues. 

In recent years, Blakeslee, a Wichita State University anthropology and archeology professor, became convinced that the town inhabited by 20,000 ancestral Wichita Indians - the second-largest, or perhaps even the largest, settlement in North America in the early 1600's - was hidden in plain sight. 

It was the present location of Arkansas City, Kansas.

Addition information and tour details can be found at 

Coming Soon

(Concept design of exterior of museum.)

ETZANOA Announces Capital Campaign
Press Release - May 18th 2023

Arkansas City, KS with the announcement of a $500,000 SPRING Grant from the State of Kansas, the Etzanoa Conservancy is lauching the public phase of its Etzanoa Cultural & Immersion Center Campaign, $4.5 million has ben raised. 

"We couldn't be more pleased," says Dr. David Ross of Topeka and Conservancy Board Chair. "The Conservancy and Campaign Leadership Committee is grateful to all those who have helped us reach this stage of the campaign. Thanks to their early involvement as donors, the recent $500,000 grant was made possible."

Ross added, "Over the last couple of years the Conservancy and the committee successfully secured property for the center, engaged a design group to develop architectural drawings for the center and most importantly raise $4.5 million during the quiet phase of the campaign." The Etzanoa Conservancy works to unearth and learn the history and heritage of a 500-year-old Indigenous prairie culture known as the Etzanoa. For an estimated fiver miles, the "great settlement" sits below the Kansas prairie on and around the Walnut River in Cowley County, Kansas. 

"It is believed to be the second largest site ever identified in America," said Sandy Randell, Etzanoa Executive Director. "It started as a mystery more than 80 years ago when small artifacts were found. Archeology in the last 15 years and academic research on two continents and three countries confirmed Spanish conquistadors visited the settlement of about 20,000 in 1601."

"The mystery that was solved and the ongoing archeology and historical research has captured the attention of people around the world," said Randell." We've had more than 30,000 visitors in the last five year and we've been invited to speak with groups in 16 state and four continents. Most recently Etzanoa was part of a National Geographic story detailing the five ancient cities that once ruled North America."

The center will incorporate two important components - an immersion museum and research wing. Exhibition galleries, immersion theatre and outdoor trails will bring to life the story of Etzanoa and the presentation of other Indigenous nations. The research area allows for ongoing work and preservation of Etzanoa history and heritage while the rest of the center informs, educates, and immerses visitors into the life of Etzanoa.

"A leadership gift from the VJ Wilkins Foundation and Conservancy board member started the quiet phase," said John Farrer, Campaign Committee member. "With this announcement of the public phase, we are working to raise the final gifts to complete this project. It's our hope to open the doors to the new facility in 2025."

Keep up with this projects progress on their website.