Our Story

The story of extreme Southeast Kansas
is a story of extremes, revolving around coal, ink, and booze

Southeast Kansas once looked like the rest of the state

with prairies and farms as far as the eye could see.

The search for coal changed everything.

It changed the land. It changed the politics. It changed the culture. It changed the people.

We were the troublemakers.

The rabble-rousers.
The roughnecks.
We were a thorn in the side of state officials.

Settlers and indigenous natives illegally in a territory meant to buffer Missouri to the east, from the Osage to the west.

Father and son deep shaft coal miners going on strike.

Socialist newspaper publishers.

Mothers, grandmothers, and sisters arrested for closing mines.

Bootleggers and moonshiners in the state where prohibition lasted longer than any other.

Seeing the constant turmoil

in the Balkan states of Europe at the time, where many of our immigrants were from, a governor called our region The Little Balkans.

He meant it to be derogatory. He meant it to vilify the region. He meant it dismiss and ignore our problems.

In time, we embraced the shared identity and wore it as a badge of honor.

We are The Little Balkans of Southeast Kansas.

Where to explore our stories

Big Brutus National Historic Site

Explore the world’s largest remaining electric shovel and the 1920’s shovel made from scrap that inspired the design of this 16-story earth mover.

6509 NW 60th St • West Mineral, KS
Big Brutus.org

Crawford County Historical Museum

The area’s largest collection of local history, including a one-room school, mom & pop grocery store, & more. Hosts several Living History reenactments throughout the year.

651 S US-69 • Pittsburg, KS

Downtown Pittsburg

This Walking Tour includes a theater whose design was inspired by King Tut’s Tomb, a rare Carnegie library without the philanthropist’s name, Miner’s Memorial, Immigrant Park, & new life in old buildings.

Pittsburg, KS

Girard History Museum

The home of the country’s largest socialist periodical, plus The Little Blue Books, and the country’s first airplane manufacturer west of the Mississippi River.

300 S Summit St • Girard, KS

McCune History Museum

Communities just off the coalbed, like McCune, missed the population boom-bust of the industry and thrived as farm towns. They keep alive skills like rope making. Ask about McCune’s gold medal Olympians.

509 6th St • McCune, KS

Miners Hall Museum

Showcasing immigrant & coal mining history, MHM is on the site of a 1921 women’s march that inspired national labor & social reforms: Amazon Army.

701 S Broadway St • Franklin, KS