Crawford County, KS

Crawford CountyFrom coal mines to railroads, socialism to labor union, and prohibition to bootlegging, the history of Crawford County, Kansas is as colorful as the people who call it home. Often known as "The Little Balkans," Crawford County welcomed 31,000 immigrants from 52 different nationalities between 1880 and 1940.

"The Europeans particularly brought to the coal field a rich 'cultural baggage' of different languages, religions, cuisines, backgrounds and lifestyles. Because of the diversity, ethnicity, and civil disorderliness, the coal field became known as the "Little Balkans' of the state," William E. Powell, "The Little Balkans of Kansas: A Geographical View."

From the time the first settlers came in the 1850's until prohibition ended, Crawford County was, for the most part, a sea of turmoil. Its history, like much of the West, is the story of pioneers, Indians,and railroads. However, what has set our county apart from most is the story behind the rich abundance of "black rocks," as termed by Native Americans.

Success created history as the coal boom began at its peak, 14,000 miners were digging seven million tons of coal annually in sixty-five deep mines.

Strip mining also became abundant as massive steam shovels took gigantic bites out of the earth, uncovering seams of coal with a smaller work force. The "strip pits" seen throughout the area are continuing evidence of the days of strip mining. Fortunately, nature has now covered the ugly scars with vegetation and the water in many of the pits has been stocked for ideal fishing.

You may be curious as to why there are so many little communities throughout Crawford County. The miners lived close by the mines they worked, thus creating small camps all over the county. Imagine that at its peak, the county consisted of as many as 2,000 camps! The camps were made up of the miners' homes where they and their families lived. Most camps had one school and one church. Some of the larger camps may have also had a theater, bank, electric lights and "paved" streets. A lot of the miners were paid in script, so they had to buy from the company stores. (Prices were usually higher, too.)

Today, a house or two may be all that stands of a camp. Cato, the earliest town in the county and is an example of a town that faded as fast as it flourished. Many of the town buildings are still standing today, but have been vacant for years.

Explore Crawford County

Big Brutus RV Park and Museum

One of the most unique day trips in Southeast Kansas is to Big Brutus, 11,000,000 pounds of fun! Big Brutus is the world's second largest electric mining shovel. Walk through its cavernous body, sit in the operators chair or climb 16

Pittsburg, KS Family Fun-Referred

Pittsburg Aquatic Center

10,000 square feet of Summer Fun!

Pittsburg, KS Water Parks

Franklin Community Center & Miners Hall Museum

The Franklin Community Center & Museum was built shortly after the devastating tornado of 2003 which destroyed much of the community including the former Franklin Community Hall. The Miners Hall Museum is an exhibition located within the Franklin Community Center &

Franklin, KS Museums

Mined Land Wildlife Areas

Located in Crawford, Cherokee, and Labette Counties, the Mined Land Wildlife Area (MLWA) encompasses about 14,500 acres in 46 scattered tracts. Most of this wildlife area was once surface mined for coal. About 200

Pittsburg, KS Wildlife Areas

Fisk Opus 106 Pipe Organ

The Opus 106 Pipe Organ is a superb mechanical-action pipe organ built by one of the finest organ builders in the world. It arrived on the Pittsburg State campus in March, 1995, and was presented to the university in inaugural festivities, October 1995.

Pittsburg, KS Arts

Hotel Stilwell

The Hotel Stilwell was built in 1880 and placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1980

Pittsburg, KS Historic Buildings

Pittsburg Public Library

The Pittburg Public Library, listed on the National Register of Historical Landmarks, is an example of the Prarie School of Architecture. Built in 1910

Pittsburg, KS Carnegie Libraries

Bison Herd

The Bison heard is on display year round. Stop and view the bison herd as you imagine earlier days when the plains were filled with these magnificent animals. Fun Fact: A bison has 14 pair of ribs instead of the 13 pair found in the

Pittsburg, KS Natural Attractions

Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University… Where People Succeed Pittsburg State University has four colleges consisting of many reputable and outstanding academic programs:

Pittsburg, KS Colleges

Big Flag Veteran Memorial

Drop by an see one of the nation's largest American Flags (30' x 60' - 130' high). While you can see the flag from your vehicle, you really must stand under the Big Flag to appreciate its true size, 130 feet high above the Kansas prairie honoring all war veterans.

Girard, KS Memorials

Huey Helicopter & Veteran's Memorial

On April 15, 1995, a formal ceremony dedicated a Huey Helicopter to its new home on the Southeast corner of the Crawford County Courthouse lawn. In addition to the Huey, a granite replica of the Vietnam Wall is engraved with the names of the 777

Girard, KS Memorials

Explore Crawford County