May 14, 2004

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Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

KU bus tour visits speedway, Lewis & Clark site, Leavenworth on May 21

LAWRENCE -- An 18th-century expedition camp site in Atchison County and a 21st-century retail and entertainment development in Wyandotte County will be among the first stops on the first day of the 2004 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour of Kansas. Forty-two University of Kansas faculty and staff will participate starting Friday, May 21.

Sponsored by KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, the six-day tour will circle the state clockwise to introduce many faculty and staff new to Kansas to their new home state and to fellow Kansans.

The first day of the six-day tour, participants will stop in Kansas City, Kan., Atchison and Leavenworth and will learn about the economic development and the early settlement of Kansas.

Kansas Speedway President Jeff Boerger, a 1988 KU fine arts alumnus, will meet the KU faculty and staff on the first stop of the 1,500-mile tour of Kansas at 8 a.m. May 21 at the speedway, 400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.

"We wanted faculty to know about the economic boom Wyandotte County is experiencing with this development," said Margey Frederick, KU visitor center director, who organized the 2004 tour with Don Steeples, KU Dean A. McGee distinguished professor of geology.

The speedway opened in spring 2001, and Wyandotte County's adjacent Village West development now houses a major sporting goods merchandiser, a furniture store, a ballpark for the T-Bones professional baseball team, restaurants and theme hotels. Speedway officials estimate about 100,000 people will attend each of six races scheduled this year. Wyandotte County officials estimate that 7 million to 9 million visitors annually will stop at the 400-acre Village West development.

From the speedway, the faculty and staff will travel to Leavenworth, the first incorporated town in Kansas. During the 1880s with a population of 20,000 people, Leavenworth was the largest town in Kansas. Leavenworth also is home to the oldest Army fort in continuous existence west of the Mississippi River and to a federal prison. Settled in 1854 on land once occupied by the Kansa Indians, and later the Delaware and Kickapoo tribes, the town was named for the military post to take advantage of name identification to attract settlers.

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., the faculty and staff will tour Leavenworth, stopping first at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4101 S. Fourth St. Trafficway. The bus will drive through the historic downtown overlooking the Missouri River and will stop at Fort Leavenworth to view the Buffalo Soldier monument. Gen. Colin Powell initiated and dedicated the monument in 1992 to honor black cavalry soldiers, known as Buffalo Soldiers to the Cheyenne Indians.

At noon Karen Seaberg, chair of the Kansas Lewis and Clark Commission and a travel consultant in Atchison, will greet the tour participants at the Riverhouse, 101 Commercial St. in Atchison. After lunch, Seaberg will guide the faculty and staff to the Independence Creek Lewis and Clark Historic Site, 19917 314th Road, and then to the childhood home of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, 223 N. Terrace, and the International Forest of Friendship, a memorial to those in aviation and space exploration, 178620 274th Road.

The faculty and staff will have an hour to explore downtown Atchison before they board the bus at 3:30 p.m. to return to KU. They will resume the tour Monday, May 21, with stops in Topeka, Lyon County, Sedan and Winfield.

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