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Symphony executive director will share secrets of Chisholm Trail

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Kauffman Museum has a new special exhibit on display, and the first Sunday afternoon program connected to it will take place Feb. 25 at the museum.

“The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West” opened just before Christmas and will be at Kauffman Museum through April 1 (Easter Sunday).

Christy Davis, executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills, based in Cottonwood Falls, will speak on “The Other Chisholm Trail: Little-Known Facts About the Great Cattle Drives.”

Davis is a fifth-generation Kansan who grew up in Harvey County. Her many history and historic preservation projects have included a thesis on the architectural history of Newton and North Newton.

Davis founded her own historic preservation consulting firm in 2006, specializing in helping property owners designate their properties and secure funding for preservation projects. Before starting Davis Preservation, she was a preservation planner and deputy state historic preservation officer for almost a decade.

She became executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills in mid-2013. In that position, she works to showcase the landscape and culture of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. The Chisholm Trail, with its ties to grasslands, Western history and her home county, has long captured Davis’ imagination.

The Chisholm Trail, which crosses Harvey County and, in fact, what is now the Bethel College campus, fundamentally changed the American West, leading to, among other things, the birth of the cowboy as icon and the revival of the cattle industry.

The trail helped shape popular culture by altering how Americans, and the world, thought of the American West and the individuals who lived there.

The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West” developed as a celebration of the 150th anniversary, in 2017, of the Chisholm Trail. The traveling exhibit is a collaboration between Symphony in the Flint Hills and Flint Hills Design of North Newton with major sponsorship from Lost Trail Soda.

The exhibit invites visitors of all ages to explore the Chisholm Trail from its inception in the late 1860s to today.

Exhibit highlights include a comprehensive and accessible synthesis of new and existing research on the Chisholm Trail; a musical exploration of the cowboy song “The Old Chisholm Trail”; clips from films, such as The Old Chisholm Trail and Red River, that reference the trail; and several artistically rendered life-size longhorn cattle formed from blackened steel. Younger visitors can create their own brands with the “Brand Your Beeves” interactive station.

Kauffman Museum is open Tues.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the current special exhibit “The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West,” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. The museum store is open the same hours as the museum (no admission charge for just visiting the store).

For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website,, or Facebook page.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.