Have you ever visited a dual topic museum? We have been to a few, but none like the one we found in Dodge City, Kansas. At the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame, we discovered a mix of teachers and lessons learned. They say we learn from history, and this place is filled with some interesting displays of well-known people from the past. To combine the state’s best teachers and famous gunfighters under one roof makes for quite a fun visit. The museum is just across the street from Boot Hill, so the inclusion of these exhibits makes perfect sense.
We want to thank the Dodge City CVB and the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
Captured in Wax
We started our tour on the second floor, which holds the Gunfighters Wax Museum. The displays are set up in dioramas that showcase some of the most commonly recognizable names from the Wild West. It is a blending of gunfighters, lawmen, and even some characters from the television show Gunsmoke. A display of the Dalton Gang reminded me of a visit to Coffeyville, Kansas during my youth. Many of the other dioramas brought back memories from other sites we have seen around the Midwest. The wax figures helped bring the stories we have read to life.
Seeing a display that included the burying of bodies at Boot Hill Cemetery was fitting, since it ended up being the resting spot for some nefarious characters. We finished our tour of the wax museum and headed back to the first floor to meet up with one of the tour guides.
First of Its Kind
The first floor is dedicated to the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame. This unique space tells the stories of over 400 teachers from all across the state of Kansas. The displays cover early to present day teachers, and highlight educators who excel at their jobs. Our guide asked us what school district we lived in, and then proceeded to look up all of the teachers from there who have been honored. This interactive exhibit makes research easy. Afterwards, we were guided to displays that were specific to education and the history of Kansas. We were especially fascinated with a chart that shows the origin of the names of every county in the state of Kansas. We were surprised to find out that only one county was named after a woman and it sits near the center of the state.
We moved into the next room and found a mock classroom, complete with a variety of desks that have been used over the past decades. Some were familiar to us, while others fell into a period prior to our schooling, but after what we usually see in history museums. The Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame also has a large collection of schoolbooks and primers that have been collected from all corners of the state. Once again, only a few were familiar to us, but many of you may recognize more of them.
Our final stop was actually outside the museum. Here we were led to the relocated Pleasant Hill schoolhouse. This authentic building has been meticulously refurbished to bring back the days of early education in the region. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it is the perfect end to the tour. We even got to ring the school bell. We could imagine all of the kids rushing back to class after recess. Can you remember those days?