Sunday, August 12, 2012

Southeast Kansas Treasures on a Beautiful Day

This has been a beauty of a weekend. Yesterday we got up to cool air, unbelievable after living in furnace air for so long. Everyone’s mood changed with an uplift of hope. At the farmer’s market, people were down right cheery. The vendors showed the first butternut squash, spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes. Autumn was lurking nearby, planning her arrival even if the searing temps returned. The cool air let her fall produce begin to appear as harbingers of harvest time.

After some reading on the deck, DH and I went for an adventure…in our own backyard neighborhood of towns about 25 or 30 miles from us. What history we saw! For me it was personal history because while growing up in Southeastern Kansas, the Erie Red Devils played football against Baxter Springs Lions, Riverton Rams, and Galena Bulldogs. Riding on a bus dressed in red pleated skirt and red wool crop top, I was too busy with pals in the front seat to bother with looking out the windows! So, now I investigated those Kansas towns with an eye for history of the mining, the religious settlements, and oh, yes the brothels too.

Small towns everywhere are fading away, and it is hard for them to survive now. But these little places yesterday are struggling and hanging on with some flair. Look at the Baxter Springs Visitor’s Center. This darling little filling station has been refurbished and is worth making the trip to see. My grandpa had a DX station so I am partial to old filling stations in the first place. So much memorabilia and a grand Route 66 gift shop are inside along with area visitor info. 

Then two blocks away we went to the local museum which neither of us knew existed until this week. This is a grand place to visit, and we could not absorb it all in one visit. 

                                                                                  Victorian bedroom

Baxter was found near a mineral spring in the Cherokee Neutral Lands. But that is another story. There was a fort here in early years, a Civil War Massacre, and right after the war in 1868 the town was incorporated.  

                                                                  1930's hair salon....anyone for a perm?

The museum shows mazing exhibits of different eras of Southeast Kansas and is loaded with special items. The place is all the more amazing when one thinks of how much is done, nearly all, by volunteers.

                                                                1930's Kitchen

Most interesting piece...a slave cradle...note wheels...this cradle could be pushed to fields to pick and hoe while keeping an eye on the baby. Note hooks on each end allowed the piece to be taken apart for storage--between babies. 

We had a wonderful lunch downtown at Angels on the Route and visited one flea market next door where I found a Spode Towers saucer, blue and white of course, for a mere $2. Then we went on to Riverton and on a wee bit more to Galena. 

Galena has a rough history due the mining days. The town has a mining museum (next time!) and it is known for its Hell’s Half Acre and Red Hot Street where saloons and brothels abounded to help relieve the miners’ of their money.
Galena has another item of interest. It is the home of the original Tow Mater from the movie fame. While there, we visited with a couple from Spain that was photographing Tow Mater; a short ways down the road we met a couple from Italy on their way down Route 66.  This little corner of Kansas is full of goodies!

                                                           Grammie and PaPaw Visit TowMater

1 comment:

Martha said...

Looks like a fun trip -- and a good find! Don't forget if you ever plan to come to my town, let me know and I'll put the kettle on!