Baldwin City, Kansas

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Baldwin City is a city in Douglas County, Kansas, United States about 12 miles (19 km) south of Lawrence and 15 miles (24 km) west of Gardner. It is part of the Lawrence, Kansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,400 at the 2000 census. The city is home to Baker University, the oldest four-year university in the state.



Early history

Baldwin City originally began as a trail stop on the Santa Fe Trail named Palmyra. The small town consisted of a harness shop, blacksmith, hotel, lawyer, drug store, post office, two doctors and a tavern. In 1858, a group of Methodist ministers gathered at Kibbee Cabin and founded Baker University. The town of Palmyra bought land to the south for the university and surrounding city. A main benefactor was John Baldwin and the town was named in his honor. Baldwin built a saw mill which was located at present-day Fifth and Indiana Streets.

Baldwin City unwittingly found themselves surrounded by the events that led up to the American Civil War. Three miles east of Baldwin was the town site of Black Jack where the Battle of Black Jack took place on June 2, 1856. The night before John Brown stayed in Prairie City and Quantrill's raiders passed within three miles (5 km) of Baldwin after the burning of Lawrence in 1863.

Midland Railway

In 1867, the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Fort Gibson railroad laid tracks and became the first Kansas railroad south of the Kansas River. In 1906, the Santa Fe Depot was built and today the Midland Railway offers excursion rides to Ottawa via "Nowhere" and Norwood. Midland's Scout program is one of the few in the country to offer a railroading merit badge and Midland has hosted a Thomas the Tank Engine attraction the last few years.

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