How many of us have driven past I-70 exit 301 at Junction City and seen the sign for Freedom Park?  We've all seen the cannon on the top of the hill to the south of I-70, right?

If you take the exit, there is a little parking area at the base of a trail head that leads you to the top of that hill. 

At the trailhead, a tarnished sign gives enough incentive to want to head upward.  It lets you know that the Atomic Cannon is only one of three still in existence; the other two are at Fort Still in Oklahoma.

Because the path is a mix of asphalt and dirt and rocks, it feels like a bit of an adventure.  It's not advisable to do this little jaunt in 100 degree temperatures.

On the way up you'll find a howitzer.

The range for the ammunition of the 1944 howitzer was 14,400 yards. 

Getting to the top feels like an accomplishment and it's interesting to be at the top side of the cannon you always see from the road.

Not only is it awesome to see this atomic cannon close up -- it's 42-feet in length, weighs 42,500 pounds and traveled 35 m.p.h., but you have to wonder how the cannon was placed up there in the first place?  The big gun, Atomic Annie, was activated in 1952 and deactivated in 1963. 

The projectile that was 11" in diameter could hit a target at 20 miles.

It's ironic that such a mighty cannon also was filled with graffiti promising forever love.

Wrtten by Marci Penner.  We're going to every town in the state to research for our next guidebook.  We want to share some information with you now.  This is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.