During the 19th century, two of the most famous overland routes in U.S. history, the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail, extended across parts of the Kansas region. Railroads and settlements first became a permanent feature of the Kansas landscape in the second half of the 19th century. This period also included the relatively brief era of the great cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail and other trails to railroad shipping centers in Kansas. Railroads remained the dominant form of transportation in Kansas until the 20th century. At that time automobiles and trucks came into increasingly widespread use, challenging the railroads’ long-held supremacy. Many of the railroad lines and highways across Kansas form sections of major transcontinental and regional routes. The transportation network in Kansas is as important to the nation as it is to the state.
In 2007 Kansas had 225,744 km (140,271 mi) of public highways, roads, and streets, a greater mileage than that of all other states except Texas, California, and Illinois. The road network consists of modern highways superimposed on an older grid pattern in which roads tend to follow the section lines drawn when the land was first surveyed. There were 1,407 km (874 mi) of interstate highways, including the Kansas Turnpike, a toll road.
Kansas is served by 7,944 km (4,936 mi) of railroad trackage, much of it operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and by the Union Pacific Railroad. A number of other important lines serve the state. Greater Kansas City, which includes both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, is one of the principal rail centers in the Middle West. Farm products made up 47 percent of the goods originating in the state and shipped by rail.
The state’s only navigable waterways are the Missouri River, along the Kansas-Missouri state line, and a few miles of the lower course of the Kansas River. Barge traffic plies the Missouri, and the chief ports on the Kansas side of the river are Atchison, Leavenworth, and Kansas City.
Kansas has 10 airports and airfields. Most of them are small airfields that handle private aircraft and local commercial flights. Airports at the largest cities in the state are scheduled airline stops on routes that serve the Middle West and Southwest. Pipelines are an important part of the transportation facilities serving Kansas. Vast quantities of crude oil, oil products, and natural gas are carried by pipelines to communities and industrial centers throughout Kansas. Encarta "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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