Our Story

Ernie Miller Park is a 116 acre piece of beautiful park land sitting in the middle of a lot of growth in Olathe, Kansas. The park is full of trees, wooded areas, native prairies, Little Cedar Creek with three miles of trails. 

The Nature Center is open to the public and free of charge. We accept donations which go to support the nature center, it's programs and caring for the animals. 

Who Was Ernie Miller?

Many think that Ernie Miller once lived on or owned the land; or that he donated the land and building that is now called Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center.  That is not the case. Below is a timeline about the history of this awesome place. 

  • 1850’s the land was first deeded to Cynthia Alverson when the Kansas Nebraska Act opened Kansas Territory to settlers. 
  • 1861 the land was purchased by Col. Josiah E. Hayes.  This family owned the land for over 100 years. 
  • 1910 Ernie Miller graduated from Olathe High School
  • Ernie Miller not only served as the president of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, but he was also the organizer.
  • 1939-1952 he served as Editor for the Olathe Mirror, the local newspaper.  Ernie wrote the column “Dresser Drawer,” which became a community favorite.  “His position as a community journalist influenced public opinion, but also chronicled the community, its people and history,” noted by the Olathe News in the article Olathe’s 150 Most Notable People, written in honor of Olathe’s 150th anniversary.
  • 1964 The Hayes family sold the property to John W. Breyfogle
  • 1964 Mr. Ernest “Ernie” Miller was fondly referred to as “Mr. Olathe”, a nickname bestowed upon him by the Olathe Chamber of Commerce. The tradition continued on as this name was given to individuals who have made Olathe a better place to live.
  • 1966 John W. Breyfogle sold it to the City of Olathe with the understanding that it would be used for parkland.
  • Ernie Miller died in November of 1966. 
  • The land was purchased one month after the death of Ernie Miller and the Olathe City Commissioners named the park in his memory.  For a while, the park was used for motocross.
  • 1972 Johnson County Park and Recreation District acquired the land
  • 1985 Ernie Miller Nature Center opened
  • September 30, 2008 the Nature Center’s Outdoor Education Manager, Bill McGowan, attended a banquet to receive an award for Ernie Miller in his behalf, since he had no more living relatives.  He was inducted into the Wall of Honor by the Olathe District Schools Alumni Association. 
  • 1985 Completed Phase I of the Nature Center adding 2,000 sq. ft. of space
  • 1992 Completed Phase II of the Nature Center adding another 3,200 sq. ft. of space
  • 2014 added new hands on exhibits
  • 2017 Begin Ernie Miller Nature Center Master Plan 

 Ernest W. Miller was truly a dedicated, influential and inspiring Olathean, whose legacy lives on right here at Ernie Miller Park Nature Center.