Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
Lecompton, Kansas is a town with just 600 people.
In addition to being one of the best-rated small towns in Kansas, it might be one of the most pivotal cities in all of America.
As you enter, you’ll see a sign stating, “Birthplace of the Civil War, Where Slavery Began to Die.”
“Wait, wasn’t it Fort Sumter where the Civil War started?” you might ask yourself?
Yes, your history teacher was correct.
However, a series of events that started in Lecompton in 1857 is believed by many to be the first fuse lit in the explosion of war.
I don’t want to ruin too much of the story for you, because Lecompton is filled with so many historical sites that explain the series of events that led up to the first gunshots of the war.
The only downside?
There’s not much else in Lecompton if you aren’t a history buff or open to learning about Civil War preambles.
Lecompton might be the only city I’ll ever research where I can excitedly tell you about a rock and a piece of wood you have to see.
I have a couple of bird-brained ideas for you too that you won’t soon forget.
One of my safety tips is either going to make you laugh or gross you out.
Lecompton is between Topeka and Lawrence, but closer to Lawrence.
You’re going to have to stay in a hotel in one of those cities because on Lecompton’s 4 1/2 miles of roadway there isn’t a single hotel.
Lecompton makes for a great day trip, anyway, and it’s right in the path of some great outdoor adventures.
Warnings & Dangers in Lecompton
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Lecompton doesn't have its own police force, so I don't have city-specific crime data. I do have crime data for Douglas County, where Lecompton is located. The county has a low crime rate for the 12,000 or so people who live there, which means Lecompton is a low-risk city.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
With less than five miles of roadway, you're going to need a car. There's no bus service and any taxi you call would be coming from Topeka or Lawrence. There's a low risk you'll find any way to get around other than your own car or your own two feet.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The county-wide risk of theft is one in 154, so you should feel safe with a low risk here. That doesn't give a reason to toss safety practices into the wind. Keep using the same common sense tactics.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The garden variety Kansas risks exist here - flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, extreme winds, bitter cold, intense heat, snowstorms, and ice storms. There's a medium risk because some kind of weather event can happen throughout the year.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were nine robberies in the whole county in 2020, so that's a low risk for visitors to Lecompton. When you figure out the math "per 100,000 people", as the FBI likes to do it, the rate is at the national average. However, there's a large margin of error in an area so small.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
While there's a lot of history that could be destroyed by a terror attack here, there isn't any kind of concern that Lecompton would be a target. Kansas has bigger cities at risk, like Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Douglas County Sheriff lists the most common scams online, but they are all the typical scams that happen across the nation. There is no tourist-specific scam and most of the reported scams target residents.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of anything happening to a single female traveler or group of female travelers happening here. The historical areas are easy to locate and have plenty of people around for safety.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Tap water in Lecompton is safe with low risk when using it for drinking or bathing. The only issues in the Water Quality Report stem from incomplete data or a form not being properly filled out, but that dates back to 2018. In 2020, there were no water quality violations.
Safest Places to Visit in Lecompton
There was once a time when Lecompton was poised to be the capital of the state that would become Kansas.
Add in some salty political debates and bloodshed, and what’s left is the Territorial Capital Museum, which also served as the first building at Lane University.
Constitution Hall is another historical spot on the “must-see” list of Lecompton.
I really don’t want to ruin the full story, because that’s what you’ll learn at the museums (or history buffs could tell it better than I can, anyway).
The watered-down version of it is – Kansas gaining statehood was a fierce debate over whether it would be a slave state or a free state.
The series of events that followed led to President Lincoln being elected, which in turn triggered the Civil War.
It’s hard to wrap your head around how much political and criminal drama happened in what is now a small town of 600.
Reenactments of historical events are available by a schedule for groups.
They really pull out all of the stops to make this feel as real as if it was the mid-1800s.
For more information, contact Constitution Hall at (785)887-6520 or the Territorial Capital/Lane Museum at (785)887-6148.
Campers or RV travelers should pick up some meat at Kroeger’s County Meats for some great food to cook over a fire.
When you get hungry in town, check out Aunt Netter’s.
You can get breakfast or lunch for about $10 per person and some amazing homemade pies or cupcakes.
Along the Kansas River, which forms the northern edge of the city, is a great opportunity for bald eagle sightings.
Bald eagles are so prominent here and throughout history, the original name of Lecompton was Bald Eagle.
People here refer to the Kansas River as the “Kaw.”
I watched a great video of a tourist canoeing down the Kaw and there were so many bald eagles flying almost within arm’s touch (BUT DO NOT TOUCH THEM!).
15 minutes away from Lecompton is Clinton State Park.
There are nearly 400 campsites here and about 10 cabins.
There’s a boat marina, 25 miles of hiking/biking trails, a cross-country skiing trail, an archery range, and a beach.
Anglers will love the tour pond and even young anglers get a chance to try out a children’s fishing pond.
The wildflower fields in spring and summer are not to be missed.
In one of those rare roadside attractions you can only find in rural areas, there’s the Luna Bella Labyrinth, 10 minutes from Lecompton.
The labyrinth is carved through the grass of this farmland and is free for passing tourists.
You can also get tarot card readings, aromatherapy journeys, or Mary Magdalene readings for a price.
There is a giant rock in the center of town that was deposited here by a glacier in the Ice Age.
Inside the museum, you’ll see a piece of petrified wood that was encased in a glacier until it melted.
Places to Avoid in Lecompton
I honestly don’t think you can avoid any place in Lecompton because it’s just that small.
However, there isn’t a bad part of the town.
I watched a story done by KCTV in Kansas City about Lecompton.
I learned there are only two full-time city employees, so you should focus more on learning about Douglas County than Lecompton when it comes to certain safety measures.
One of the two employees is tasked with plowing all the roads in Lecompton when it snows, so please be patient if you are visiting in the winter.
You should avoid boating if you are a beginner here because the Kaw has a lot of sandbars that can leave you stranded during low river levels or extreme currents when the water is high.
There’s a group called “Friends of the Kaw” that can help with any boating advice you need.
There are two big events in Lecompton throughout the year.
The holiday season brings Christmas to life with 120 trees decorated – it’s one of the largest displays of Christmas trees in the entire Midwest!
June is Territorial Days with period costumes and reenactments of battles by weapons and words.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Lecompton
- For emergency services in Lecompton, you still dial 911 and it will go to the Douglas County communications center. You can text to 911 in Lecompton and throughout the county, but ONLY if you absolutely cannot make a call. This is helpful in areas with limited mobile service or if you are in a situation where speaking could be more dangerous.
- You should check your wireless provider’s website for a coverage map so you can see if there are any dead areas in the region. There are a lot of outdoor places to explore here, but that can be a lack of communication you are used to.
- You’ll notice the sidewalks here might look “old”, but it’s actually a specific design to prevent flooding on the streets. The sidewalks are a paver design, with the original bricks used when the city was designed. Watch your step!
- For the best bald eagle sightings, don’t just go to any property near the river. Most of it is private property. If you cross over the river and take the first left, you’ll get to the Kansas River Trail, where you can get great eagle sightings without trespassing.
- You want to have a reliable weather app that sends emergency notifications when severe weather is pending. You can download an app from one of the Kansas City television stations. A battery-powered weather radio is a smart purchase and will get you information no matter where you are in the wilderness. Stop by the Douglas County Emergency Management office to have it programmed for free.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the Kansas Department of Wildlife. You should get a non-resident license and an applicable permit for specific fish you plan to catch. You cannot use your home city or state license here.
- If you see a dead deer on the side of the road, you cannot move it by yourself. There is a “Deer List” of local residents approved to clean up debris from animals. Call the Douglas County Sheriff to have someone from the Deer List assigned to remove the animal. The phone number for the Sheriff’s Office is (785)841-0007.
- While there isn’t a lot of crime in Douglas County and Lecompton, it stays low-risk because of people reporting suspicious activity they see. You can fill out a form anonymously on the Sheriff’s website. You can also call (785)330-2815. It’s best to follow the “See Something, Say Something” guidelines instead of just walking away from a concerning situation.
- When driving to Lecompton from Lawrence or Topeka, find a route that doesn’t take you onto I-70. That’s a toll roadway with limited exit points. For example, if you miss the Lecompton exit coming from Lawrence, you won’t have another exit for 15 miles and then you’ll need to backtrack. Taking the backroads will also prevent you from having to pay the toll on the interstate.
- The Lecompton city website has a list of local businesses under the Visitors tab. Review this list of places to visit during your stay here. The pandemic hit these small tourist towns hard, and it helps the community when you skip a stop at McDonald’s to have breakfast at a local eatery.
So... How Safe Is Lecompton Really?
Lecompton and surrounding Douglas County are very safe.
The crime rates are much lower than the state and national average.
The entire county has less than 13,000 people and is very rural, so the crimes are mostly things like petty thefts or hit-and-run accidents on the road.
In an area this small, it’s not really as transparent as we insist on being when we figure out the crime per 100,000, because the numbers can be easily skewed by just a few crimes.
Here is the raw data from all of Douglas County in 2020:
- Homicide: 1
- Rape: 2
- Robbery: 9
- Aggravated Assault: 28
- Burglary: 28
- Theft; 83
- Motor Vehicle Theft: 12
Even doing a deep dive into the criminal history of Lecompton brings up very few stories, most of them dating back to the mid-2010s.
You should feel safe visiting here, but remember this is a small community, so respect the space and lifestyle.
There is a group called Lecompton Community PRIDE, and I naturally assumed this was an LGBTQ group that met every month in the city and had its own Facebook page.
Turns out, this is a page for people who are proud of being in Lecompton and those “Born and Raised in Lecompton.”
(I have been trying to find a way to fit that humorous line in this article, but it didn’t fit -until now.)
It doesn’t mean that LGBTQ people aren’t accepted here, it was just a potential point of confusion I wanted to explain.
How Does Lecompton Compare?
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- Visas - You should plan for up to four months to go through the U.S. Visa process. You'll need to do a face-to-face interview and provide the past five years of social media activity as part of the process. Once you are through Customs at the airport, you don't need your visa to travel between the cities of Kansas.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. You should do currency exchange at the airport because you won't be able to in Lecompton.
- Weather - Winters can be dangerously cold, so bring warm layers to cover all extremities. I find hand warmers are easy-to-transport items that really help with the bitter sting of a Midwest wind chill. There isn't snow on the ground all the time in the winter, but snow boots are going to help get around as that one guy tries to plow all the streets. Fall and spring should be mild, but bring layers of t-shirts and sweaters for temperature swings. Summer will be warm and the heat index can get high when you factor in the humidity.
- Airports - Topeka's regional airport is about 30 minutes west. Kansas City International Airport is the larger choice, but it's a little more than an hour's drive from Lecompton.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great way to get peace of mind when traveling to a state with volatile weather. Make sure you know what is covered on rental car insurance since you'll be doing a lot of driving here.
Lecompton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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