During the Civil War event, Old Cowtown is filled with costumed characters.

Old Cowtown – A Step Back In Time

Being Midwesterners, we were looking forward to our visit to Old Cowtown. Wichita has a lot of similarities to our hometown of Kansas City. Both cities were frontier towns, that grew famous for their cattle trade. They also have the confluence of two rivers in the heart of their city. It was near this junction that a replica of an 1860s frontier town came to be. Since living history sites are a favorite of both of us, this place was destined to become one of our favorite stops.

We want to thank Visit Wichita and Old Cowtown for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own. 

A flim-flam man draws in customers with his games of chance.

Getting a Lay of the Land

Old Cowtown is home to 54 unique buildings. Half of these are original and have been relocated to this site to preserve them. Visitors have an opportunity to walk the streets of a town stuck in the era of the Civil War. Getting a chance to immerse ourselves in a replica town from that era sounded very educational. This museum has an array of costumed interpreters who are happy to interact with guests. Just be sure to keep a close watch on any flim-flam artists that may invite you to an entertaining game of chance. 

A shopkeeper works on a new hat that she'll display for guests.

Exploring Old Cowtown

In the Business area, each building represented a certain type of shop that would be found in a frontier city. Inside we found examples of the products, tools, and devices that were commonly used. Informational cards and placards noted interesting facts about years gone by. Some of the shops we visited were occupied by the shopkeepers. Whether it was the delicate work of creating a new hat or the hot job of a blacksmith, each worker was diligent in recreating accurate period pieces.

Belly up to the bar and enjoy a saloon show.

Belly Up To The Bar

We decided to whet our whistles with a stop at the local saloon. Inside we found a barkeeper who serves up refreshments to guests. There was still a chill in the air, so we ordered some coffee and sat down to enjoy a show. Before long, others had joined us and it signaled time for the dancehall girls to make their appearance. We enjoyed the revelry and the show ended with a roaring round of applause.  

Soldiers perform various tasks during a day at Old Cowtown.

Themed Weekend

Our visit was timed to allow us to partake in the annual Civil War event. This takes place one weekend in April and offers a unique look into the past. Throughout the park, we found soldiers in various activities. This gives visitors a chance to see the different parts of daily life during the 1860s. While they are also open for conversations, it is important to remember that they have specific duties that must be performed in a timely fashion. 

A group of soldiers march toward the hotel to here Lincoln's speech.

Leading to Lincoln

Around midday, we heard the sound of drums heading toward the middle of town. Soon we found a regiment of soldiers marching toward the main area, which included the saloon and hotel. Other soldiers were assembling, as well as the townsfolk, so we knew something big was about to take place. Sure enough, before long a reenactor dressed as Abraham Lincoln stepped out on the hotel balcony. He proceeded to deliver an uplifting speech that inspired that assembly. 

The afternoon brought some down time that allowed the costumed soldiers to mingle.

Weary Soldiers

Afterwards, the assembly dispersed and we returned to exploring the town. We worked our way toward the back of Old Cowtown. This is where you will find a farmstead much like what was seen in rural Kansas. Along the way, we spotted a variety of soldiers engaged in leisure activities. It appears that the majority of their duties had been fulfilled and now they had time to visit. This provided some nice photo opportunities. 

A mother and daughter scurry toward home at the end of the day in Old Cowtown.

Wrapping Up The Day

After exploring the farm site, we decided that the rest of Wichita was calling our name. As we began our walk back toward the entrance, I paused to take one look back at the park. This allowed me a chance to capture this image of a mother and daughter scurrying back to their home. It was a fitting wrap on a fun experience.

The authors have fun during their visit to Old Cowtown Museum.

Visit Old Cowtown

Old Cowtown Museum is nestled on 23 acres in Wichita’s River District. General admission is $10.00 per person with kids getting in for $8.00. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00. We suggest setting aside a minimum of 1.5 hours to see all of the exhibits, but you may want to extend that for special events. Nearby you can also visit the Mid-America All-Indian Museum, Wichita Art Museum, and Exploration Place. All of these fun activities in one area make Wichita a great place to explore.

4 thoughts on “Old Cowtown – A Step Back In Time”

  1. Notorious ROSCOE

    Hi Jeff & Crystal. What a fun writeup about my favorite place, Old Cowtown Museum. I was delighted to meet you both, and I sincerely appreciate the prominent place you gave me in your article. Let’s play a few other games of chance with you next time you’re in Wichita.

  2. Jack Bender, III

    Hi, its Jack again. Last feature I told you about me flying alone on TWA and meeting Joe Louis when I was very young. Well another comment but this time it is about OLD COWTOWN. I presume you went into the General Store. That was moved from Garden Plain,KS ane at one time was owned by my wife’s family. Several years ago my wife donated to Old COWTOWN Museum charcoal drawings of members of her family that was conected to the General Store. Love your articles. Jack Bender

    1. Of course, we didn’t pass up the General Store. It’s very interesting to hear that your wife’s family has a connection with the structure. Glad she donated the pieces for all of us to enjoy.

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