MANHATTAN, Kan. - After noticing many people taking photos with the Johnny Kaw statue, a group of Manhattan residents decided that improvements were needed to the area around Manhattans iconic City Park statue.
In 1955 George Fillinger a professor of horticulture at Kansas State University, created the story of Johnny Kaw to be Kansas’ answer to other folklore heroes, like Paul Bunyan.
The 24-foot statue was completed in 1966 at a cost of $7,000 with all materials and labor being donated, and the construction cost covered by local citizen donations.
With this new project repairs were made and the statue was repainted, along with the addition of the new concrete plaza, steps, and railing.
“We also looked at the historical record and the original folks that built this, wanted to build a little platform around the statue, which we’ve accomplished now, but they didn’t have the money for it.” City of Manhattan, Kansas, City Commissioner, Wynn Butler says.
Just like the building of statue, the repairs, and creation of the platform were all done using donations, not taxpayer’s money. Johnny Kaw’s story claims he created Kansas’ landscape, dug the Kaw River Valley, and even invented sunflowers.