Baxter Springs, population 4250, is a city on historic Route 66 in Southeastern Kansas. During the US Civil War, it briefly hosted a US fortress (Fort Baxter, aka Fort Blair, abandoned 1863) and was the site of the Baxter Springs Massacre battle.
The area from Joplin, Missouri through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs, Kansas to Picher, Oklahoma was lead and zinc mining country, extracting galena (lead sulphide) ore until the 1960s. The closure of the mines, followed by the bypassing of US Route 66 by Interstate highways, led to a decline in the local economy and a drop in local population.
As mining was never permitted within the Baxter Springs city limits, the town escaped the ecological damage which turned nearby Picher into a ghost town. The original motels and campgrounds which served motorists on the dozen miles of US Route 66 in Kansas are now gone, but portions of the city's Route 66 legacy live on to attract visitors today.
Get in/Get around
When Interstate 44 bypassed Route 66, it avoided Kansas entirely by crossing directly from Missouri to Oklahoma. To get back to Route 66 (Alternate US 69) from I-44, exit to US Route 400 at the Missouri state line and drive 8 miles (13 km) west to Baxter Springs.
- Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum, 740 East Avenue, ☎ . Apr 23-Oct 31: Tu-Sa 10:30AM-4:30PM; Su 1PM-4:30PM. Nov 1-Apr 22: Sa 10:30AM-4:30PM; Su 1PM-4:30PM. Local history including Quantrill's Battle & Massacre, US Civil War, both world wars, the retail main street in the 1870s and 1930s, a Lincoln school room, US Route 66, the local tri-state mining district, native and black American history. Souvenir shop.
- Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Service Station, 940 Military Avenue, ☎ . This 1930s service station dispensed first Independent Oil and Gas and later Phillips Petroleum; the building was restored in 2007 as the Kansas Route 66 Visitor Center.
- Soldiers’ Lot, Baxter Springs City Cemetery, US 166 West, 2 miles west of US 66. A place of burial and Civil War memorial for those who fought in the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs.
- Cowtown Days. Annual summer festival with entertainment, arts and craft fair, gospel music, contests and a car show.
- Carol's Flea Market and Appraisals, 1141 Military Ave., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Antiques and Route 66 memorabilia.
- Baxter Springs Smokehouse, 2320 Military Ave, ☎ . 11AM-8PM wkdays, 7AM-8PM wkends. Smoked meats, steaks, burgers, sandwiches and seafood, takeout. $6-14.
- Café on the Route, 1101 Military Ave, ☎ . 10AM-7PM Tue-Sat, 10AM-2PM Sun, closed Mon. In former Civil War era Crowell Bank building, said to have been robbed in 1876 by Jesse James and Cole Younger. Renovated and reopened 2014 under new management. breakfast $5, dinner $7-15.
- Chili Willy's, 2327 Military Ave., ☎ . M, Tu, Th-Sa 7AM-8PM; W 7AM-2PM; Su 6AM-10AM. Lunches $5-10.
- El Cabrito, ☎ . Mexican, steakhouse.
- Route 66 Soda Fountain, 1136 Military Ave, ☎ .
- Weston's Route 66 Café, 1737 Military, ☎ . Rebuilt/reopened after an April 27, 2014 EF2 tornado hit.
- Baxter Inn, 2451 Military Ave, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Riverside Park, US Route 166, south side, at east edge of Baxter Springs, ☎ , fax: +1 620 856-5483. Park with local campground on Spring River. Fishing, boat ramp, RV electrical hook-up, shelter houses, tables, grills and rest rooms. Contact the Baxter Springs Police Department (121 W 11th St.) for a permit to camp. $5/tent, $10/RV.
An unincorporated Route 66 community, population 930, at what is now the junction of K-66 and U.S. Route 69 Alternate.
- Eisler Brothers Country Store, 7109 SE Oriole Lane, Riverton, ☎ . 1925 country store with groceries, produce, flowers, deli sandwiches, souvenirs and memorabilia. One of the stops on Pixar's US 66 research trip for 2006 film "Cars", where Route 66 Association president Dean Walker showed the film's makers his ability to twist his feet around 180° and walk backwards. (The corresponding character in the animated film, a rusty tow truck, teaches how to drive backwards.) According to route 66 historian and guide Michael Wallis, "As luck would have it, we had just eaten a sandwich at the Eisler Brothers when we met Dean, He was proud as punch to show them his exorcist feet and regale them with stories of the Ghost Light."
- Rainbow Bridge, Brush Creek (two miles west of Riverton on former US Route 66). Sole surviving single-span concrete Marsh arch bridge on Route 66. Built in 1923.
|Routes through Baxter Springs|
|Tulsa ← Miami ←||W E||→ Galena → Joplin|