While we were in the friendly little town of Baxter Springs, KS, we spent a few hours at the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum.
I ended up being disappointed that we hadn’t set aside more time to visit as we ended up having a lovely personalized tour of the museum, which was much larger on the inside than it looked from the outside. The museum is located just a few blocks from the tornado’s path.Right inside the entryway is this beautiful hutch. The hutch was donated to the museum just a few weeks before the tornado came through. Besides a near miss in this April 2014 tornado, this hutch has another tornado story to tell… On July 5, 1895 (119 years ago) a tornado tore through Baxter Springs. In the widespread destruction, it leveled the Methodist Church in town. This hutch was made from wood salvaged from the damaged pews out of the destroyed church! The top floor of the museum takes you on a chronological tour of the history of Baxter Springs. Did you know that there was actually a Civil War battle that took place here in little Baxter Springs? We had no idea, but there were some great exhibits about it. Last year (2013) marked the sesquicentennial of the battle, which happened on October 6, 1863.Our great tour guide told the kids about the battle, including describing what the fort here looked like at the time
(Fort Blair, which looks more like a small cabin than a fort, is located just a block away from the museum; it is a lovely little walk). The museum displays all sorts of historic items, and tells their stories and how they are related to Baxter Springs… Civil War mural…Museums are the only place these gypsy kids sit in school desks at 😉
They had a copy of rules for teachers in 1872. Some of them were pretty funny – like if a man teacher gets shaved in a barber shop, it was cause to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty! lol!other recreations of earlier times…
loved this vintage wash basin and pitcher (but not very RV friendly…) the girls loved all the old dolls… the guys preferred the tank models… and of course there was Route 66 memorabilia…There were firearms in the Native American area… and this intriguing slave cradle nearby. The cradle had a handle (top right) that the slave woman could either pull on with her hand, or hook it over her skirt waist, and pull the baby around after her as she worked in the fields… And just when we thought we had completed our tour of the museum, our guide took us down a flight of stairs to a whole other world – that of historic Baxter Springs. There was a recreation of a small town main street… complete with homes, businesses, and livery stable. Another area in the lower level was dedicated to mining.
Mining is a huge industry in this area, even to this day. Lead mines were prevalent in this area, and there are huge areas of ground that are closed to the public in this region for fear that the underground tunnels, left over from mining processes, could or will cave in. One large display features old photos of mining crews. Cameras of the time were not able to take panorama shots, so they would take several photos of the crews, moving the camera down the line for each shot, then piecing the individual photos together later to make one longer picture of the entire crew. This picture may be photographic proof of some of the first cloning efforts…
See the 2 guys in the back left? They look eerily like the 2 guys all the way to the right… Since they are smirking in the photo of themselves on the right, it is thought that they were lined up on the left, to take the crew picture, but as the camera moved down the line, they snuck around behind the photographer and inserted themselves into the right of the photo also… you know, like that Ma & Pa Kettle episode where they win the house in town and the kids keep running down the line as the news crew is panning a shot of their family…the kids just go on and on and on? (is that only a big family thing – to relate museum displays to Ma & Pa Kettle movies??? LOL!)
Caleb found trains!!!There were other areas downstairs also. The whole museum was very interesting! We love small town museums because they are more personal, and you tend to feel more of a connection to the area.
The Baxter Springs Museum even has a Civil War Napoleon Confederate Cannon…
The 20,000 sq ft Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum is located just a block off of Route 66. Open 7 days a week, with free admission and outside exhibits, the museum is a great stop for all ages!