The True Roots History of the Kansas Jayhawks

kansas jayhawks true west
The original Kansas Jayhawks

In 1859 the Jayhawks stood for the fighting spirit associated with efforts to keep Kansas a free state. Today they stand tall on the basketball court in the town where the inventor of the game, James Naismith, organized its very first team. Lawrence, Kansas, stomping ground for Jayhawks from both eras, is a seductive mix of old and new.

Traces of the Oregon Trail and William Quantrill’s devastating raid of 1863 echo through the streets where university students stir one of the most active contemporary music scenes in the country.

The charming Old West Historic District melts into a vibrant shopping scene of unique boutiques and art galleries. Guests are quietly served in historic tea rooms on Massachusetts Street, while just a few blocks away lively college hot spots overflow with the spirit of youth. Amazingly, somehow it all works to create a unique destination for history buffs and party-seekers alike.

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James Naismith

On the University of Kansas campus, view James Naismith’s original rules of “basket ball” and learn about the Jayhawks who helped shape one of the world’s most popular and competitive sports.

Self-guided tour brochures and free information about Lawrence and the region are available at the Lawrence Visitor Center in the historic Union Pacific Depot and online at

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