"Nicodemus, Kansas" Nicodemus by basstbn

Nicodemus Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 28 photos

Not just an ordinary dying Kansas rural village...

As you approach Nicodemus, Kansas, it appears to be pretty much like any of the hundreds of decaying little towns dotting the prairies of America's heartland. What sets it apart is its history, its spirit, and the people who settled Nicodemus in the 1870s.

Lured by promises of fertile soil and a temperate climate, more than 300 emancipated slaves from Kentucky headed for the promised land of Kansas. What they found was a harsh climate and a difficult life particularly in their first winter in this wild place. Only the generous gifts of firewood and food from a local band of Osage Indians allowed the settlers to survive. The former slaves, no doubt accustomed to hardship, stayed put and built a thriving little city on the plains.

The years of change have taken a toll, and the population has now dwindled to 23, with an average age of 69. Nicodemus, however, is a survivor, just like its people have been. In 1975, Nicodemus was designated a National Historic Landmark, symbolic of the pioneer spirit of those brave black families who dared to leave their familiar Kentucky to establish new lives and new freedoms on the frontier.

The annual highlight of life in Nicodemus is the Emancipation Day Reunion, featuring a parade, fashion show, food and drink, and gatherings of families.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Of historical interest - even more so for black Americans.
  • Cons:It's off the beaten track, and much renovation needs to take place.
  • In a nutshell:You can't help but be stirred by the determination and spirit of its people.
  • Last visit to Nicodemus: Jun 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (2)

  • Jan 11, 2005 at 1:06 AM

    I missed out on Nicodemus when I was living in Kansas back in ’96. I spent most of my time in Lawrence & Kansas City (KS & MO). I would later learn about Nicodemus in an article I read about old black communities in America. Awesome page.

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2004 at 12:54 PM

    Hi Frank, Great tips of a fascinating place. I visited Nicodemus a couple of weeks ago with my grandchildren as we were crossing Kansas. Stephen


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