The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

January 27, 2014

Frankie Meyer: History tours make great destinations for day trips

JOPLIN, Mo. — Use these cold wintry days to make plans for short trips that you and your family can enjoy during the rest of the year.

At various times, the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum offers tours of sites that relate to the history of the town as well as nearby areas in Southeast Kansas. Upon request, tour guides can be scheduled to accompany groups on the tours.

Most of the tours include a stop at the museum to see the displays there before embarking on a visit to other sites. A few of the tours are walking tours, while others are by vehicle. There is a small charge for some.

One of the tours is about the Civil War. Because the Military Road passed through the town, Union and Confederate troops were active in the area. The tour includes the nearby Fort Blair site, as well as the site where a wagon train was attacked in 1863 by William Quantrill and his forces. The tour also includes the National Cemetery west of town.  

Another tour includes home and business sites that relate to the cattle trail era of the town's history.

Also included are sites connected with the mining history and the spring which was believed to have curative powers.

Because the town is located along Route 66, the museum offers a 13-mile tour that includes Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs.

Stops at the scenic Marsh Rainbow Bridge and the Route 66 Information Center (located in a restored service station that is on the list of national historic sites) are included.

Border towns were known for the criminals that visited for friendly purposes as well as to rob businesses.

Because Baxter Springs had its share of both, the museum offers a tour called "Bad Guys and Criminals."

One of the stops is the site of the old hanging tree. The tour guides provide stories of the criminals and their escapades.

Ghost tours are offered in October. As the group stops at home and business sites that are reported to be haunted, the tour guides provide stories about each.

Another tour relates to Mickey Mantle and the town's Whiz Kids baseball team of the 1940s and 1950s. The museum also offers a tour of the Southeast Kansas Nature Center along Shoal Creek south of Galena.

Additional information is provided at the museum's website at baxtersprings museum.org.

Details can also be obtained by calling the museum at 620-856-2385 or emailing heritage ctr@embarqmail.com.

Plan to stop by the museum, located at 740 East Ave. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m. While enjoying the exhibits, inquire about the tours.

Such tours are a great way to develop enthusiastic interest in the history of an area. What unique sites are in your community?

Check with your local leaders, historical society, genealogy society and other organizations and ask about developing a similar strategy to help your community learn about its past.

Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or contact: frankie meyer@yahoo.com.

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