Belle Plaine Schools
USD 357, Belle Plaine, has approximately 625 students in preschool through grade 12. There are three attendance centers; Belle Plaine Elementary School, Belle Plaine Middle School and Belle Plaine High School. The district focus is on developing fundamental academic skills through creating a positive environment in which all students can learn. Belle Plaine schools provide an enhanced fine arts and vocational curriculum using technology to develop 21st Century learning skills. The district prides itself on having outstanding administration and staff.
(Source- USD 357-www.usd357.org)
Belle Plaine Lifestyle
Many of the 1700 citizens are employed in aviation related industries in the surrounding area. Housed in the Belle Plaine Industrial Park are several firms engaged in various manufacturing operations. Belle Plaine is the site of a central printing plant for several community newspapers. Local businesses include a bank, grocery store, gas station, automotive repair and other businesses. Belle Plaine has an excellent school system (K-12). Family activities available include the City Swimming Pool, 4th of July Celebration, Tulip Festival and other seasonal activities. The Miss Arkansas Valley Scholarship Pageant, a Miss America Preliminary, is held here.
(Source- Belle Plaine Chamber of Commerce-www.belleplainechamber.com)
Belle Plaine Transportation
Belle Plaine is east of interstate I-35. Wellington and Derby are 20 minutes away and downtown Wichita is a quick 30 minute drive from Belle Plaine. Commuting to work or for a day out is easy from Belle Plaine.
Belle Plaine Local Attractions/Activities
Belle Plaine is home to the Belle Plaine Historical Museum, Barlett Arboretum, parks and more. Belle Plaine offers various historical experiences in addition to community attractions including the swimming pool and various parks. Wichita is a short 30 minute commute and offers many other attractions including the Intrust Bank Arena, Warren Theatre, and Sedgwick County Zoo.
Belle Plaine– History
Belle Plaine, the oldest city in Sumner County, Kansas was founded in 1871 and incorporated in 1884. Belle Plaine is located in the northeast corner of the county, situated in a valley between the Arkansas and Ninnescah Rivers. Belle Plaine was settled and established by families from Iowa and Ohio. Once known for its many apple orchards, this family oriented community's agriculture base now includes wheat, grain, sorghums, soybeans, mung beans, pecan orchards and cattle.
Despite the description of the area as the "Great American Desert" by General Stephen Long in 1823, many believed the stories of the railroad executives and cowboys and believed Kansas offered abundant rich new land at a price the poorest could afford. So, they came from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York as well as Canada, Scotland, Germany and England. They came by covered wagon, on horseback, and on foot. Many brought only what they could carry on their backs or in covered wagons and settled the area that would become Paradise Valley and Belle Plaine, the oldest existing city in Sumner County. Although three other town sights were laid out before Belle Plaine, they did not survive and dropped into obscurity.
On July 5, 1870, the Alexander Clewell family with six children, G.C. Walton family with nine other Waltons, T.L. Cambridge family with seven children, J.B. Leforce, Sr. family with six children, J.B. Leforce family and William Leforce family with one child arrived. They spent their first winter in Wichita. All of the families except for Alexander Clewell moved on when they heard of richer land to the south. Alexander settled one mile north and two miles west of Belle Plaine where their descendants still live and farm the land.
It was not until July 13, 1870 when the Osage tribes made a treaty with the United States Government and ceded their reserve to the government that an increased number of settlers started to arrive. The North family was among those settlers. The Lawless, Phipps, and Griffith families from Kentucky, the Alter family from Pennsylvania and Wallace family from Illinois arrived in 1871 and early 1872. It was at the request of Olive North the town be named after her hometown of Belle Plaine, Iowa. There is another interesting version of how Belle Plaine was named in the book, "Facts and Fables of Belle Plaine".
The Belle Plaine Town Company was founded in January 1, 1871 and purchased land located on Section 35, Township 30, Range 1, east for $1.25 an acre. A total of 319.99 acres were purchased for $399.99. On March 20, 1884, the "Petition for the Incorporation of Belle Plaine as a City of the Third Class" was signed. The local newspaper at the time reported a census of 1,000. The census now is around 1,700. The first building was built for J.C. Thurman. James Hamilton started the first business on February 25.
In the early days, Belle Plaine had a flourmill, one grain elevator, a newspaper, two large hotels, one bank, three churches, a grade school, a stagecoach stop, carriage factory, blacksmith shop and two brick factories. At one time, there were two banks, two newspapers, a sawmill, opera house, and roller skating rink. Just north of town was a dance hall called the Green Frog. Three railroads serviced Belle Plaine at one time; AT&S on the west edge of town, Missouri-Pacific on the south edge and the Midland Valley on the east.