93-acre future wildlife area includes Oregon/California Trail ruts, Kanza Indian ruins
TOPEKA — A unique tract of public land will provide special outdoor opportunities in Shawnee County thanks to the children of Leslie and Lydia Fitzgerald. James E. and Carolyn Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Ann Fitzgerald Petersen, and Eleanor Sue Fitzgerald Vance donated their 93-acre family farm to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) in memory of their parents.

After KDWP improves access, the “Leslie T. and Lydia A. Fitzgerald Wildlife Area” will be available for hiking, youth fishing and hunting events, and other special hunts. The new public land is located 13 miles west of Topeka off Interstate 70.

The historical property features wagon wheel ruts from the Oregon-California Trail, which led settlers west during the middle 1800s. Interesting historical features include remnants of a Kanza Indian settlement and large bur oak trees that John C. Fremont is believed to have passed during his travels. Fremont mapped a large part of the new American West.

KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden is excited about the future of this property. “A land gift that is rich in natural resources and Kansas history is a wonderful way to preserve a family’s legacy and benefit the people of Kansas,” Hayden said. “The Fitzgerald gift will provide the public many ways to enjoy the outdoors through hiking, fishing, and hunting. This property has a great deal to offer Kansans. It’s beautiful and has an amazing story to tell.”

To learn more about his property, read former owner James Fitzgerald’s written history at Click “Other Services/Publications/Hunting,” then go to Page 2 and click “Fitzgerald WA History.” Fitzgerald documents the land’s historical features in detail.

For more information about the Leslie T. and Lydia A. Fitzgerald Wildlife Area, phone the KDWP Region 2 Office at 785-273-6740.