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.
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
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
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
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