Museums and Memorials

Great Bend is home to the Barton County Historical Society and the Kansas Oil and Gas Museum, along with B-29 Memorial Plaza, Jack Kilby Memorial, and a farmer's memorial.

B-29 Memorial Plaza Visitors to the Great Bend City airport are often puzzled by the size of its runways, since you seldom see 8,000-foot-long runways in towns our size. Great Bend was a B-29 bomber training base during World War II, and crews from all over the United States were trained to fly the huge Super fortress bombers right here in Great Bend. The airfield is the site of a memorial dedicated to the men and women who manufactured, flew and provided support for the Boeing B-29 Super fortress. Located on B-29 Way, at the Great Bend Airport. For more information contact the Barton County Historical Museum at 620-793-5125 or visit  

Barton County Historical Museum and Village Step into central Kansas history at the Barton County Historical Museum and Village. Located on the Arkansas River, just south of Great Bend, the museum preserves the history of Barton County, from its Native American roots to World War II and beyond. The village brings the region’s settlement era to life through several restored historic buildings, including an 1871 pioneer home, 1898 church, 1910 train depot, 1915 one-room school house, and a small post office. Group tours are available. Admission is charged. Located at 85 S. Highway 281. For information call 620-793-5125 or visit

Breaking the Prairie Sod Memorial This tribute is to the early pioneer families who endured sparse accommodations, nature’s harsh challenges, and yes, even breaking the tough grassy sod so it could be tilled for crop production.  Some lost everything, including their lives; some gave up for an easier life elsewhere.  This monument is a tribute to the early pioneer families: the ones who stayed, endured, and hung on ‘as tough as the prairie sod!’ The memorial can be viewed at the Highway 96/56(10th Street) junction.

Jack Kilby Memorial The solid bronze statue, named "The Gift," stands on the west side of the Barton County Courthouse. This area is designated as the Jack Kilby Plaza, which includes circular seating, complemented by beautiful flower beds. The monument consists of three sculptures rendered at a scale of 1 1/4 times life size. Jack Kilby's eight foot tall figure stands on a stone column, reaches out his hand to give a microchip to a young boy. To Kilby's right, a younger girl eagerly reaches out a hand to her slightly older companion and points toward the stars with her other. This symbolically represents to transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next and how that transmission has been affected by the microchip. The microchip greatly accelerates the speed at which knowledge is shared. The young girl representing "The Future Generation", is eager to find what goals her generation can achieve with "The Gift".  For more information and to follow the progress of this project visit   

Kansas Oil and Gas Museum Eureka! The “ka-thump” ka-thump” of oil rigs forms the industrial heartbeat of the Great Bend region. Oil exploration began here in 1886, financed by a group of Great Bend speculators. By 1930, it was estimated that the county received more than $20 million annually from the oil and gas industry. Oil pumps dot the landscape throughout the region and remain an important contributor to the regional economy. Learn about the history of local oil and gas production at the Kansas Oil and Gas Hall of Fame and Museum, located at 5944 W. 10th Street. For more information or tour scheduling call Mike Johnson Sr. at 620-792-3162.