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Baxter Springs, KS

Early visitors who journeyed to Baxter Springs in Southeast Kansas were enchanted by the beauty of the surroundings. Baxter Springs was once a rest stop for the Osage Indians who were traveling toward their summer hunting grounds. The Osage believed that the mineral springs that once flowed just south of what is now East Seventh Street in Baxter Springs had miraculous healing powers. They weren't the only ones who frequented Baxter Springs. Known as the First Cowtown in Kansas, Baxter Springs served as a welcoming stopping point for cattlemen and stock raisers who drove large herds to northern markets. Dubbed Baxter's Place after founder John J. Baxter, the town later became known as Baxter Springs. On historic US 66 highway, Baxter Springs continues to be a hot spot of activity. Fishing and camping on Spring River, upland hunting, a motor cross track, and nine-hole golf course are a few of the vibrant activities available in Baxter Springs. Other near-by area attractions include the 2nd largest electric mining shovel called Big Brutus, the Carona Train Depot, and the Mined Wildlife Area. Visitors and residents give the Little League Museum, showcasing memorabilia of local sports heroes, and the Heritage Museum, detailing the city's vast history, glowing reviews. Parents rave about the superior education students receive at the Baxter Springs school district. Many respectable community colleges and up-standing four-year universities are within driving distance of Baxter Springs. Accentuated with an authentic history, entertaining activities, hospitable residents, and endless opportunities, the greatest journey you'll ever make begins and ends in Baxter Springs, Kansas!


Incorporated: 1858

Population: 4,200

County: Cherokee

Zip Code: 66713

Elevation: 843 ft

Average Temperature
Summer: 80°
Fall: 60°
Winter: 36°
Spring: 58°

Average Annual Rainfall: 42.3"

Days of Sunshine: 223 days

On historic US Route 66 highway

Connects with US-166 and Alt. Hwy 69

15 miles to Joplin, MO

17 miles to Miami, OK

100 miles to Tulsa, OK

85 miles to Springfield, MO

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  • John J. Baxter - moved his family to the area and set up an inn and general store in 1848. It became "Baxter's Place."
  • Incorporated in 1868 and renamed Baxter Springs after John J. Baxter
  • Known for the Baxter Springs Massacre where on October 6, 1863, the guerrilla band of Quantrill's Raiders unsuccessfully attacked Ft. Blair.
  • In 1868 a demand for beef in the north brought Texas cattlemen and stock raisers to drive large herds on the southern plains, using Baxter Springs as a stopping point.
  • A cable-ferry boat was instituted in 1867 on the Spring River until the early 1880's when the first bridge was built.
  • In the latter part of the 19th Century, the Baxter Springs Flouring Mill was built using a threestory frame structure, two turbine water wheels and had a grinding capacity of 50 barrels of flour a day.
Fun Facts:
  • Baxter Springs was the first cowtown in Kansas.
  • Jesse James robbed the bank.
  • Baxter Springs is located directly on Route 66.
Famous or Noteworthy People:
  • Hale Irwin - Professional Golfer
  • Mickey Mantle - Played with the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids before signing with the Yankees

Attractions / Landmarks:
Bas Relief - mural depicts the history of Baxter Springs on the exterior of the American Bank

Big Brutus - world's second largest electric mining shovel; "West Mineral, Kansas", 620-827-6177

Bilke's Western Museum - traces the roots of the first Cowtown in Kansas with a full-size mural of the longhorn cattle drive on the side of the building. Jim Bilke's personal western collection is located upstairs and features antique bits, spurs, saddles, and more. Located on Route 66 at 11th.

Black Dog Trail - on the grounds of the Historical Museum, it commemorates the trail opened in 1803 by Chief Black Dog and his band of Osage Indians who lived in a nearby village.

Carona Train Depot - Heartland Railroad Club, formed in 1991, established a museum to preserve and display railroad memorabilia.

Civil War Tour - self-guided Civil War tour of Baxter Springs with 12 points of interest relating to the attack on Ft. Blair and the Battle of Baxter Springs. Maps are available at the Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce, or downtown restaurants.

DAR Marker - dedicated in memory of General James G. Blunt and his escorts who were brutally attacked by guerrillas led by Quantrill in the Baxter Springs Massacre on October 6, 1863. Located one block west of Route 66 at 10th & Park at the Johnston Public Library.

Ft. Blair Site - site of the Ft. Blair fort which was attacked on October 6, 1863 by Quantrill and Confederate guerillas. This attack was known as the Baxter Springs Massacre.

Heritage Center & Museum - Exhibits depict the various stages of the city's vast history from the days of the Osage Indians through the Civil War and the lead and zinc mining era. Exhibits include: an authentic Victorian Parlor, a reconstructed pre-Civil War Cabin, a full-scale replica of a Tri-State lead and zinc mine, Wedding Finery through the years, wooden sidewalks lining historical Military Road, and the Blacksmith Shop. Located one block east of Route 66 at 8th & East Ave., 620-856-2385

Heritage Museum Log Cabin - Built by R. A. Hibbard east of the Lowell Cemetery in the 1870s. Purchased by Kent Lynch who donated the cabin to the Historical Society in memory of Marsah Moncrief Lynch. Cabin was rebuilt on this site in 1987. Located on the grounds of the Historical Museum.

Historic Walking Tour - Store fronts on either side of Military Avenue display framed accounts of the original occupants of each store and significant historical events.

Johnston Public Library - Built in 1872, it was initially built as the County Courthouse but was never used for that purpose. Through the years, the building has been a city hall, theater, and a college. In 1905, Peter Nils Johnston, a Swedish immigrant, provided a bequest for the city to establish a permanent library in the building. Located one block west of Route 66 at 10th & Park Ave.

Little League Museum - Displays awards and memorabilia of local sports heroes such as Mickey Mantle and Hale Irwin. Located at 14th and Grant.

Longhorn Cattle Drive - 1991 painting on the exterior wall of Bilke's Western Museum - Artist John Gibbons

Mined Wildlife Area - 13,000 acres of land and 1,500 acres of water provides some of the best hunting and fishing in the area

National Cemetery - soldier's plot designated by the federal government after the Civil War. Soldier's monument erected in the spring of 1870. Bodies of massacre victims were reinterred in a common grave. Monument is engraved with the names of the 88 victims.

Rainbow Bridge - the only remaining Marsh Arch bridge - located 1.5 miles north of Baxter Springs

Route 66 Museum - 940 Military Ave., 620-856-2066

Tri-State Marker - meeting point of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

Veterans' Memorial - Honoring local Veteran's who have served or who are currently serving our country both at home and abroad. This awe-inspiring memorial was awarded the Best Civic Memorial recognition by the Monument Builders of North America. Located at 13th and Park Ave.