Crawford County, Kansas
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Flying the Nest
to Crawford County
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Crawford County, KS proves to be a haven full of rest and recreation.
Flying the Nest to Crawford County
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Exploring the region’s exciting heritage and modern fun

No more Friday evenings cheering from the sidelines at our son’s soccer games. No more Saturday afternoons watching our daughter’s dance recitals. Both of our kids left the nest. After a few weeks of missing the sound of their footsteps echoing through the halls and seeing their faces at the breakfast table, Dave and I realized that it was time for us to fly from the nest, too—at least for a weekend.

Goodbye, obligations. Hello, adventure!

For our first getaway, Dave and I decided to explore some of the attractions in Crawford County, Kansas, which is a little over two hours away from our home in bustling Kansas City. I booked a round of golf, and Dave—who was just as giddy as I was to get away—found a room at a historic B&B. On Friday morning, we packed up our car and headed south.

A history lesson

Our first stop was the Miners Hall Museum in the town of Franklin, Kansas. This is the type of place that Dave and I love to peruse.

I’d always known that southeast Kansas was a huge mining area, but the displays at the Miners Hall Museum personalized this industry for me, introducing me to the men behind those mountains of coal.

The Crawford County Miners Memorial stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made.

These men faced danger on a daily basis, and reading about how this affected their families really struck a nerve with me. Posted on a display in the museum is a memory shared by two sisters, Elizabeth Manci Robinson and Orlanda Manci Bazin. Their mother, the child of a miner, had described to them the unease that she, and other area children, felt as youths.

The Crawford County Miners Hall Museum tells the story of miners and their families.
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The Crawford County Miners Memorial stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made.
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The Crawford County Miners Hall Museum tells the story of miners and their families.
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“Our mom said that when the mine whistle blew to notify the community of an accident in the mine, they were all so afraid that something had happened to their own dad.”

I couldn’t imagine living with such constant worry; certainly that had to take its toll on family members. And it did. Over three days in December 1921, thousands of women marched to more than 60 mines in Crawford County to protest the unfair labor laws and practices involving the hazardous working conditions that their loved ones endured in the coal fields.

Their courageous actions shocked the nation, and The New York Times gave a name to their movement: the Amazon Army March. The march focused attention on the mining industry and helped lead to labor reforms.

Himmel House

After our history lesson, Dave and I were ready to relax. We drove a short 15 minutes to Pittsburg’s Himmel House Bed & Breakfast, a graceful three-story Greek Revival home built in 1905. As we walked up the front steps onto the sweeping columned porch with several hanging ferns swaying lazily in the breeze, I mentally claimed the cozy swing as a prime reading spot. Ah, afternoon bliss.

Inside, owners Jeff and Sherri Stephens warmly greeted us, showing us upstairs to the Decuyper Room, our oasis for the weekend. Bright and cheerful, the room featured an inviting king-sized bed, a private bathroom, a romantic candlelit fireplace and a rooftop balcony from which we could watch birds dart from tree to tree in this quiet residential neighborhood. This space invited me to slow down, and I gladly accepted; I’d been a mom-on-the-go for two decades, and it was finally time to unwind.

We turned in early that night so we could rest up for our 9 a.m. tee time at the Four Oaks Golf Course, and thanks to our peaceful accommodations, we awoke filled with energy.

The historic Himmel House Bed & Breakfast is full of modern comforts.
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The historic Himmel House Bed & Breakfast is full of modern comforts.
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Getting lost in the game

Sherri’s hearty breakfast provided the perfect fuel for our day of golfing ahead. She’s an excellent cook, and made strawberry parfaits, a savory breakfast casserole and a sweet cinnamon coffee cake that paired well with the locally roasted Signet Coffee. We headed off to Pittsburg’s Four Oaks Golf Course to play an entire 18 holes, a luxury that we hadn’t enjoyed in years.

Designed by Elmer Hill, this public course has a par of 65 and a slope rating of 127. I felt confident in the flat, open front nine, but the water hazards and sand traps in the wooded and hilly back nine were challenging for me yet perfect for Dave, a more skilled golfer who scored a respectable 70.

Tee off at Pittsburg's beautiful Four Oaks Golf Course.
 
story art Golfing at Four Oaks Golf Course
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Tee off at Pittsburg's beautiful Four Oaks Golf Course.
 

But scores didn’t matter that morning. Shaded by the towering oak trees, we walked through the lush Bermuda grass and played at our own pace.

Afterward, we took a leisurely stroll in the Downtown District, stopping for refreshments at 5th Street Bar and Grill. The area gave off a comfortable, quaint vibe marked by brick buildings and architectural features that blend industrial with artistic.

Our walk back to Himmel House, brought us past the Miners Memorial, which is a grand outdoor display that we couldn’t help but stop at. Beside a bronze statue of a miner and our graceful flag, stood almost a dozen black granite tablets. Hundreds of names were inscribed on them; names of those who worked in the Pittsburg-Weir coalfields. One of the tablets provided insight into the lifestyle and social reforms that came from their struggle.

Rekindling the flame

Sunday morning arrived too quickly. As I was getting a second cup of coffee at the B&B, Jeff suggested that Dave and I take a walk to Lakeside Park where we could sit and feed the ducks. So after breakfast, he topped off our coffee, handed us a bag of rice, and sent us off on our five-block walk to the park.

Dave and I sat on a bench in the park, where we talked and talked long after the rice was tossed and the coffee had been drunk. This getaway had allowed us to reconnect by doing the things we’d enjoyed before we became parents. It was good for our marriage, and good for my soul.

Explore more of Crawford County!

Explore more of Crawford County!
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Immigrant Park is a tribute to the immigrants who settled in Southeast Kansas.
Explore more of Crawford County!