Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is starting to take shape.
It may have been difficult for some observers to grasp the concept of the area, which encompasses 41 counties in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. However, as a spring deadline with the National Park Service approaches, planners are settling on three themes for the area.
The main focus will be the pre-Civil War history, including the border clashes between pro-slavery forces in Missouri and abolitionists in Kansas. The area also will focus on settlers in the area, why they came here and how they were involved in the border wars. The area also will look at how our history affected this region after the Civil War and into the present.
Years of work and planning have gone into the National Heritage Area project. One of its most dedicated advocates has been Judy Billings, president of Destination Management, which oversees the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau and manages local efforts for the heritage area. Billings and other local organizers correctly believe that Lawrence’s history should be at the center of the heritage area’s story and activities.
It’s an exciting prospect for anyone interested in Lawrence history and tourism. Much work lies ahead, but it’s great to see the possibilities of this regional project come into focus.