LYONS—Some farmers in Rice County have history buried in their own backyard - literally. Most of the 35 miles that make up Rice County’s portion of the Santa Fe Trail is on private land. Some locations have "No Trespassing" signs on their property.


The Rice County Historical Society and Ad Astra Educational Research and Outreach want to change that. They put together a successful grant proposal and are ready to start preserving history.


Last week, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Rice County Historical Society $35,000 to research and produce an interactive Digital Tour Experience that guides visitors through the 35 miles of the Santa Fe Trail sites in Rice County, Kansas.


The DTE project, which is expected to be complete by September of 2021, will address the lack of access to most parts of the Santa Fe Trail. Through an interactive touch screen display in the RCHS’s Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons as well as on the museum’s website, visitors and an online audience will feel as though they have explored the sites in person.


Along with the Society, Ad Astra Educational Research and Outreach, Lyons High School, Kansas Drone Imaging and other consultants will help with the project. The proposal was one of three IMLS Inspire! Grants awarded to museums/libraries in Kansas and one of 190 in the U.S. Joseph Kern, executive director of Ad Astra Educational Research and Outreach will serve as the project director.


"What we’re building is a digital 360 degree interactive image for each site," Kern said. "We will have a digital tour of the site."


Kern and his group will gather artifacts and interview landowners who have property along the Trail. One of the artifacts is a pulley from Buffalo Bill’s well, which according to Kern, was located just west of Lyons. Objects will be displayed at the museum as well as online.


In 1878, Kern’s ancestors homesteaded their Rice County land, which was on the Santa Fe Trail, not long after the trail tapered off.


"We had this history in my backyard," Kern said. "There’s a lot of land in Rice County like that."


The Coronado Quivira Museum is located at 105 West Lyon St. in Lyons. Hours of operation are Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.