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Hays is a small town, with friendly residents, and it has a colorful history as a wild frontier town, being often called by its residents as the city ''Where history walked the streets''.
In its early days, Hays was a wild and dangerous place, disputes being regular between the local ''rough'' citizens, the railroad workers and the soldiers, which contributed to the city's reputation as a lawless and tough ''end of the tracks'' town.
Those days are gone, Hays being described today as a quiet, tranquil and friendly place.
However, the residents are not ashamed of their background, moreover, they are proud of their colorful history, which is kept alive, today, in the many museums and historic sites, spread throughout the city.
Among Hays' most popular and favorite attractions, there are:
>> Fort Hays State Historic Site. Fort Hays was an important U.S. Army post that was active from 1865 until 1889. Some of the famous figures associated with the fort included Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, General Nelson Miles, General Philip Sheridan, and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
Fort Hays was also the home of several well-known Indian wars regiments such as the Seventh U.S. Cavalry, the Fifth U.S. Infantry, and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, whose black troopers were better known as buffalo soldiers.
After twenty-five years of service, Fort Hays was abandoned on November 8, 1889. Today, only 4 original buildings survive: the blockhouse (completed as the post headquarters in 1868), guardhouse, and two officers' quarters.
>> Frontier Park, which was once part of the Fort Hays Military Reservation, today, serving as a beautiful park, dedicated for outdoor enthusiasts, a scenic natural looking recreational area with a creek that winds through the 89 acres of land.
The park features walking trails, bridges, playground equipment, 4 shelter houses and plenty of large shade trees. The Big Creek that flows through the park creates several waterfalls and scenic views.
>> Sternberg Museum of Natural History, named in honor of two generations of the Sternberg family that collected some of the most spectacular fossils in the world, a four-story dome museum where visitors can travel back in time, 88 million years ago, when the might Tyrannosaurus Rex haunted the land and an Inland Sea covered Kansas, and they can walk among semi-automated life-sized dinosaurs in a fully restored environment and experience the life of some of the most spectacular creatures that ever lived.
The large array of fossils the Sternberg Family found through their studies is on display including the famous ''fish-within-a-fish''. The museum also features the Discovery Room, dedicated for the little ones.
Another local feature, which points out the fact that Hays' residents are proud of their history, is the Annual Wild West Festival, held during the first week of July, an entertaining event which marks the city's early history as an Old West frontier town, and which celebrates Independence Day.
In 2011, this fabulous, fun-filled annual event is scheduled on June 29th through July 4th, and, as always, promises enthusiasts quality entertainment, including beauty contests, a FHSU 5K Run, a colorful parade, and of course, lots of country beats.
If your trip to Hays is set in July, be sure not to miss this fun event, considered a ''must'' for all Hays visitors!
Among the top places to shop in Hays, KS, there are:
- Antique Mall of Hays: 201 41st, Hays, KS.
- La Boutique: 1008 17th St., Hays, KS.
- Brunswick Antique Mall:705 Main St., Hays, KS.
- Northglen Antiques: 801 Main St., Hays, KS.
- Brauns Fashions Mall: 2918 Vine St., Hays, KS.
- Fashion Bug: 2918 Vine St., Hays, KS.
- The Mall: 2938 Vine St., Hays, KS.
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