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Free tours of historic Quindaro Ruins set for April 20-22 to commemorate Earth Day

A statue of John Brown stands on land that was once a university in the Quindaro community.
A statue of John Brown stands on land that was once a university in the Quindaro community. dmcguire@kcstar.com

Three free tours of the Quindaro Ruins have been scheduled to commemorate Earth Day and update visitors about efforts to get the Kansas City, Kan., site named a National Historic Landmark.

Tours will begin at noon daily on April 20, 21 and 22 starting near the John Brown statue at 27th Street and Sewell Avenue, said Marvin Robinson II, one of the Quindaro supporters working to make the site more tourist friendly and get it named a national landmark.

No tour registration is required. Attendees should wear comfortable footwear, such as hiking boots or old tennis shoes, Robinson said.

Anti-slavery forces who needed a free entry port into Kansas territory broke ground for Quindaro in 1857, four years before Kansas became a state. Established on hills along the Missouri River across from Parkville, it thrived for only a few years before funding shortages, statehood and the Civil War turned its downtown into a virtual ghost town.

Though best known for its Bleeding Kansas and Underground Railroad legacies, the Quindaro community also became home to many freed slaves, their offspring and the first African-American university west of the Mississippi River. It also remains special for Native American tribes once forced to relocate to Kansas territory, as well as for European immigrants who traveled to Kansas looking for fresh starts.

Residents helped save the site from being buried under a landfill in the 1980s. It was named to the National Register of Historic places in 2002.

Supporters want the ruins near the Missouri River to be designated a National Historic Landmark. They hope to attract more tourists and revive the surrounding area in northern Kansas City, Kan.

Donna McGuire: 816-234-4393, @dmcguirekcstar

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