We love small town museums. They come are as close to being the keepers of the peoples’ history as we have in this country. Countless hours of volunteer work goes into cataloging and maintaining their priceless local collections.
Most of them are open very limited hours. We have made dozens of trips between our home in
Here are a few of our favorites:
John Brown Museum/Park, Osawatomie Kansas
It took us three days to get home from
Free-State Hotel, Lawrence Kansas
Missouri Ruffians (lead by the evil Quantrill and his raiders) burned this hotel to the ground twice.
We wanted to stay there, but the rooms were too expensive for our travel budget. However, we hung around the lobby/museum for so long and asked so many questions the desk clerk gave us the two-room Langston Hughes suite (he lived in Lawrence for a time), for $65.00; maybe to just get rid of us!
Mining Museum, Mowequa Illinois
Many of the mining museums we visit are dedicated to the miners who died in that town’s mining disaster. There is no mine without a disaster in its history, no matter how short. Such is the case with the
One of the reasons I love this museum so much is because it has a rare picture of the members of the founding convention of the Progressive Miner’s of America, of which my grandfather was a proud member. We have an even rarer picture of the founding members of the Progressive Miner’s of America Women’s Auxiliary. I gotta get me a copy of the men’s picture to have the set!
Pitcher/Baxter Springs Lead/Zinc Mining Museum
We enjoy driving on what remains of U.S. Rte 66. The old route takes you through Pitcher,
It feels weird driving through a Superfund Site; a place considered one of the most toxic places in the country, but that is what Pitcher OK is. It had a Lead/Zinc mining museum that we tried getting into several times, always finding it closed… and finally empty. Pitcher is a virtual ghost town now, with only a few people who refuse to relocate.
With a little research, we found the officials moved the collection upstream to
A couple of other museums outside our Springfield/Stroud route that we enjoyed include:
Cedarville, Illinois Jane Addams Museum Birthplace and Cemetery
Driving the two-lane from
Voting Rights Museum, Selma Alabama
It sits at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge; the people who made the march for voting rights run this little storefront museum. It has pictures of the marches; a big pile of shoes worn during the march; plaster casts of marchers feet and more. A moving part of the museum is the wall of remembrance. It consists of little post-it notes written by marchers, in their own hand, of things they remember about the march. The most moving part of the museum was meeting local people who participated in the march.
Orient #2 Mine Museum West Frankfort IL
We were meandering along two lane highways in the area and came across a shut down mine. All its buildings were intact. One building held mining artifacts. The miners’ bathhouse still stood. It was in places like that where the miners’ would ask their comrades, “If you wash my back; I’ll wash yourn.” The miners’ elevator still worked; they usually offered a trip to the mine’s face. However, on the day we visited, we could not go down; a number of retired miners were conducting a mine sit-in to get much needed state funding for the miners’ museum.
There are many more museums we visited; many more we could not get into and had to be satisfied with peeking though the windows; and many more yet to find. We love them and they all gave us some knowledge our history.
“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree” ~Michael Crichton