Local Expert: Steve Nowak
Your Local History Buff
Got a question about the history of Lawrence or Douglas County? Steve Nowak is your guy. You can find him at the Watkins Museum of History where he is the Executive Director. The museum has exhibits that will help you understand the dynamics of Lawrence, from it’s founding to today. But nothing is better than a guided tour from Steve or one of his knowledgeable staff to get the inside scoop of what events in Lawrence history have helped shape the town.
Steve's 5 Fav Places
Steve's Event Recommendations
On the west side of Clinton Lake, this museum preserves the history of lost farming communities and the region’s role as a haven for abolitionists and underground railroad activists. During good weather, combine a visit to the museum with a picnic lunch at Bloomington Beach or any of the nearby recreation spots.
The territory of the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park commemorates the 1856 victory of abolitionist John Brown and his forces over a proslavery militia group that came into the territory to arrest him. Located in scenic woodland south of Lawrence, near Baldwin City, the park is open to visitors year-round but is particularly good to visit during the annual June reenactments.
Each August, the Watkins Museum hosts a series of lectures, tours (foot, bike and bus), concerts and other events to explore the impact of the Civil War on this region as well as the area’s pivotal role in national events during the Bloody Kansas years leading up to the war. Join local and national experts for a perspective that is nuanced, inclusive and thought-provoking.
By far one of the region’s most popular parade events, this annual holiday tradition features horseback riders as well as teams of horses pulling old-fashioned wagons, carriages and buggies. Crowds line the entire length of the downtown parade route in this family-friendly winter tradition.
Every month, the KU Natural History Museum and Free State Brewery host a dinner with a science- or natural-history themed discussion led by an expert in that topic. Recent themes include a long history of the Kansas River basin, the use of drones on geographic studies and more.