The most southeast corner of the state

29March 2022

Raise your hand if you’ve not been to Cherokee County! 

Let us acquaint you of just a few things to see in this deluxe explorer-y county.

Big Brutus, the world’s largest electric coal shovel still assembled, is the most massive attraction of all but the big guy will mean even more if you first spend some time in the museum at Big Brutus, and in the museums in Galena and Baxter Springs. Brutus dug into the ground for coal but lead and zinc were also mined in this county. Keep your eye out for the many, many strip pits dug by Brutus that are now productive lakes and woodlands. No county in Kansas can match this story.

It's hard to imagine how large this machine is, but look for the person standing in the wheel track and you'll get an idea of its massiveness.

The huge bucket removed the overburden (dirt and rocks covering the coal seams) and with one scoop could fill three railroad cars. 

The Galena Museum houses an impressive photo collection featuring the daily life of a miner and memorabilia of both mining and local history. 

This exhibit and more about mining, Route 66, Civil War battles and much more can be found at the 20,000 square foot Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum.

In the Columbus Museum, you’ll see a ball of string that if unwound would be 468 miles in length. It was a big enough deal that Eddie Fouts traveled with his 826-pound ball of string to appear on I’ve Got a Secret in 1953. 

As you stroll around the outside of the museum you'll notice a Frisco Caboose, one of only 13 train cars converted into a caboose and what is known as the Columbus Wye Switch. This unusual three way switch allowed trains to turn around, and is the only one of its kind. Read more about it here.

See the second largest ball of string in Kansas at the Columbus Museum.

At the time, the switch was constructed, it was one of the three built; one in Hamburg, Germany, destroyed during the war, and one in Pennsylvania which was removed within a short time. The crossing in Columbus is the only one of its kind remaining.

The Weir water tower was "built in 1896 of curved brick, three bricks in thickness using locally fired Weir brick. The 100′ curcular tower is topped with a 24′ steel storage holding tank. Believed to be completely original with no modifications inside or out."

Find this unusual structure in the Weir City Park where you'll also find a playground, pavilion and a small stage. Hmm, might be a good place to belt out "Home on the Range" or any Kansas tune of your choice!

Angelo’s Deli in Hallowell not only still serves sandwiches on white bread but a unique sauce makes it oh-so delicious!

It was in Galena that an old tow truck inspired characters for the Pixar movie, Cars. Stop at Cars on the Route or Luigi’s Pit Shop in Galena to see other vehicles that led to Cars characters and hear stories!The only Historic Route 66 miles in Kansas are in Cherokee County. For 13.2 miles, the Mother Road takes you through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs where it leaves Kansas. Top stops are at Schermerhorn Park near Galena, Nelson’s Old Riverton Store and the only Marsh arch single-span bridge still standing on the entire Route 66.

The Cars on the Route is must stop to take a selfie with the old tow truck that inspired the character of Tow-Mater for the hit Pixar movie, "Cars." 

This charming market located on Historic Route 66 has been in existence since the 1920s. It's filled with nostalgia, inside and out. Pull off the road and purchase a snack and souvenirs here. 

It feels like we’re just getting started but cannot close without mentioning military, cowtowns, baseball, and railroad history to see, WPA structures, cemetery memorials, post office section art, the Carnegie Library, bas relief art, and there are so many restaurants to try! Find it all at

In Baxter Springs you'll admire the restoration of this iconic 1930 Texaco station into the Route 66 Visitor Center.

The scarred tracts of land, once stripped of overburden, have evolved into woodlands and grasslands that wind around a thousand deep pit lakes perfect for birding, canoeing or kayaking, or fishing.

At Soldier's Lot near Baxter Springs you'll see a tall monument of a soldier with his hand over his rifle muzzle as the cemetery’s centerpiece. The names of those who died in the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs and other area engagements, are inscribed on it, and the men are buried in a common grave.