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Dorothy with Toto, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em on the Kansas farm, W.W. Denslow 1900.

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Kansas...There's No Place Like It!

"When Dorothy stood in the doorway of the farmhouse, and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions..."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
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The Wizard of Oz/Dorothy's farmhouse in the Kansas cyclone.

Kansas aka the "Sunflower State", is a state within the United States of America. It also is the first setting the story takes place in L. Frank Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. The state is named after the Kansas "Native American tribes" who inhabited the area long before Caucasians came. The tribe's name (natively kką:ze), is often said to mean "People of the Wind " or "People of the South Wind."

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Dorothy and Toto on the hot, flat and gray Kansas Prairies.

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story opens up with the first chapter titled The Cyclone and immediately introduces the reader to the main character and leading protagonist named Dorothy Gale, who lives on a small farm in the midst of the great Kansas prairies in circa 1899-1900 with her little pet dog named Toto and her two elder guardians, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. During the time the book was written, Kansas was strictly a place for farming communities. It was also known for having powerful storms with deadly tornadoes that would destroy the farms and businesses of the impoverished settlers who came from all over the world (mainly parts of Europe and countries overseas such as New England, Ireland and Germany) to make their homes on the desolate prairies hoping to raise prosperous and healthy crops.

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Dorothy and Toto on the Kansas Prairie in the Marvel Comic book version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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Dorothy and Toto in Kansas. By Michael Hague.

In Baum's book, Dorothy's Kansas is described as being completely gray and colorless. A climate so harsh and dry that not even a tree nor river could be seen on the flat acres and fields. In the middle of this bleak setting Dorothy lives a rather isolated life as an orphan child raised by her Uncle Henry who was a seemingly very poor farmer and her Aunt Em, who was the farmer's Wife. The three of them lived in a one room farmhouse made of old wood which contained a rusty looking cooking stove, a wooden table, three chairs and two beds.

A Kansas Cyclone[]

On a day that was described as being strangely "grayer" than usual, a storm came to the farmland and brought a deadly cyclone with it. Dorothy's Uncle Henry and Aunt Em saw the cyclone approaching and they were lucky enough to get into the storm cellar in time, but unfortunately for Dorothy, she was not fast enough to join them. This was because her dog Toto became frightened by the loud sound from the howling wind of the oncoming storm. Frightened by all the commotion, Toto jumped out of Dorothy's arms and ran under her bed to hide. Dorothy quickly went after him but by the time she caught Toto the wind swept up the tiny prairie farmhouse from its foundation and transported it, along with the girl and her dog far, far away to the undiscovered, magical Land of Oz.

When Dorothy learned that she and Toto were no longer in Kansas anymore, Dorothy embarked on a long journey throughout the land, and became determined to find a way back home again. After Dorothy had many fantastical adventures in Oz and made many unforgettable friends, she eventually returned home to Kansas in the end. After her first adventure, Dorothy did return to Oz from time to time and when Uncle Henry and Aunt Em were both facing foreclosure on the farm, they all immigrated to Oz to permanently live in the Royal Palace of Oz within the Emerald City with Dorothy's best friend known as Princess Ozma of Oz. Thus, leaving the stressful and bleak existence on the Kansas farm behind to live happily ever after as immortals.


The Wizard of Oz (1933)[]

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Kansas 1933

The Wizard of Oz (1933) is an animated short film directed by Ted Eshbaugh. The story is credited to "Col. Frank Baum." Frank Joslyn Baum, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and eldest son of writer L. Frank Baum, was involved in the film's production, and may have had an involvement in the film's script, which is loosely inspired by the elder Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)[]

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Kansas 1939

In the 1939 film, Kansas is a colorless world as everything is seen in a brownish sepia tone. Dorothy and Toto live there with Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Professor Marvel, and the three wisecracking farmworkers named Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke. Also, there is the malevolent spirited Miss Almira Gulch who is a powerful aristocrat in the Kansas town. She is an old bitter woman, who tries to put Dorothy's dog down after he allegedly got into her garden without her permission. Luckily, she never succeeded in doing so.

All of the Kansas characters except Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have counterpart-alter egos in the magical Land of Oz

Journey Back to Oz (1974)[]

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Journey Back to Oz 1974

Dorothy Gale and Toto are swept away from the farm once again and taken to Oz. Dorothy is voiced by Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli.

In this movie, despite being a sequel to the 1939 film, Kansas in not in sepia tone of black and white.

Return to Oz (1985)[]

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Kansas Farm in Return to Oz. 1985

Six months after the original story, an insomniac Dorothy Gale, who misses Oz and simply cannot stop thinking about her adventures and all the friends she made there. Resulting in Dorothy not being able to sleep the whole night through nonetheless stop her never-ending talk about Oz. To make matters worse, the Kansas farm is in a state of despair due to the tornado that hit the prairie in the first story. After Dorothy returns from Oz and saved it from the evil Nome King, Uncle Henry has finished building a brand new and even better farmhouse to replace the old one that had been swept away to Oz.

90% of the Kansas scenes were actually shot in Britain, which can occasionally be seen in the form of incongruous mountains in "Kansas".

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)[]


Oscar's 1880's Kansas.

In Walt Disney's live-action 2013 prequel film, Oz the Great and Powerful, everything is set about 20 years before Dorothy Gale's story takes place. In this film, a pre-Wizard by the name of Oscar is a phony Magician working at a carnival fair in 1905 Kansas. He is swept away to Oz via cyclone.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2014)[]

Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) and Toto are now back in Kansas with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry who are devastated by the state of destruction the twister has left the small town they live in.