First historical interpretive panels unveiled on National Trails Day

Henry Fortunato directs the signage project.
Henry Fortunato directs the signage project.

More than 100 people turned out on National Trails Day Saturday to view the first of the interpretive panels that will give a sense of history and place to the Indian Creek Bike and Hike Trail through Overland Park. They also came to take a walk.

After a presentation by various contributors to the project, the Rev. Thomas Johnson (Bill Worley), the namesake of Johnson County, gave some perspective on his history and that of the Indian Mission that he founded. Then it was time to take a guided walk on the trail.

When the up to 18 interpretive panels are installed on the trail in Overland Park, they will provide a connection to historical aspects of Johnson County. It will transform the trail into a “hike through history,” according to signage project director Henry Fortunato who is the founder of Sunflower Republic which created the panels.

The interpretive panels, which connect to many of the names families in northeast Johnson County, will cover 10 miles of the trail. Fortunato said he hopes the project continues on the many miles of trails that run through Johnson County. The first four panels from the project, which began 10 months ago, were on display Saturday.

Funding for the project is coming from the Regnier Family Foundation, the Sunflower Foundation, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, the Greater Kansas City Health Care Foundation, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, Johnson County Community College Foundation and in-kind services from the Overland Park Historical Society, Lenexa Historical Society and the city of Overland Park.

The first of the boards were on display Saturday. They will be mounted at appropriate spots along the trail.
The first of the boards were on display Saturday. They will be mounted at appropriate spots along the trail.
Bill Worley entertained the crowd with his portrayal of Rev. Thomas Johnson.
Bill Worley entertained the crowd with his portrayal of Rev. Thomas Johnson.