Every other year, we publish this special tourism issue to give Southeast Kansas readers ideas for places to go and things to do right in their own backyard — and this one is our best yet, packed with more than 150 ideas!
Southeast Kansas Living subscribers received the 68-page Adventures & Day Trips issue for free as part of their subscription. Looking for your own copy? Contact us to purchase a copy and have it shipped directly to you.
Southeast Kansas provides endless opportunities for discovery and fun. We hope you’ll use the Adventures & Day Trips issue as a guide to get out and explore this beautiful, historic corner of Kansas!
1892 Neodesha oil discovery changes Southeast Kansas forever
The Mid-Continent Oil Field has historically been one of the largest producers of oil in the United States. It consists of hundreds of oil fields, spans six states and at one time was responsible for generating more than half of the nation’s oil supply.
Its birthplace? Right here in Southeast Kansas – Neodesha, to be exact. The discovery of Neodesha’s Norman No. 1, what many believe to be the first commercial oil well west of the Mississippi River, not only forever changed the town, but also kicked off an oil boom that put the entire region and state on the map…
Want to keep reading about Norman No. 1? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a … Read More »
Art is Ageless
Art competition for seniors emphasizes creativity and encouragement
Aggie Keesling, 89, has taken up painting just in the last several years. She’s teaching herself, experimenting with colors, learning from trial and error. She even paints over old canvases multiple times so she doesn’t have to drive to town to buy more.
“I paint quite a bit, especially in the wintertime because it’s so quiet out here,” says Aggie, who lives in Farlington. “When I have nothing to do, I’ll sit and paint. It gives me so much enjoyment, I wonder where the hours have gone.”
This year, for the first time, Aggie submitted her artwork to a contest: Art is Ageless, hosted by Fort Scott Presbyterian Village. She selected two of her paintings to enter into one category – and, much to her shock, she took home first and second place.
“A … Read More »
Mined Land Wildlife Area boasts premier hunting and fishing – and unique history
You’ve never experienced a Kansas wildlife area quite like this one.
Spread over 47 different tracts of land, the Mined Land Wildlife Area encompasses nearly 15,000 acres throughout Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties. But it’s the area’s history that makes it extraordinary: Once wrecked by coal mining, the land is now home to perhaps the most unique wildlife area in the state, having been transformed to offer some of the state’s finest hunting and fishing.
“What was at one time environmental devastation has, with some reclamation, turned into a dense growth of vegetation, along with these strip mine lakes that cover up to 1,500 acres in the area,” says David Jenkins, wildlife manager for the Mined Land Wildlife Area. “There’s nothing else quite like it in the state of … Read More »
House on a Hill
Peek inside the historic Brown Mansion in Coffeyville
A four-story, 111-year-old mansion is bound to have its haunted tales. The Brown Mansion in Coffeyville boasts plenty of them.
“It’s a big old giant house,” says Kris Crane, president of the Coffeyville Historical Society. “And there are personal items here: All of this furniture belonged to the Browns; these are their clothes; they ate off these plates. People are always thinking it’s haunted.”
For Kris, the ghostly stories and random eerie incidents – a wandering voice, a creaky step – don’t bother her much. After all, she’s at the mansion every week to host events and guided tours (including occasional visits from paranormal investigation groups) and has come to know the mansion inside and out.
But legends of the supernatural come with the territory, particularly when a home’s history is as storied … Read More »
World-Class Boats Built in Small-Town Kansas
Cobalt Boats in Neodesha celebrates nearly 50 years in the marine industry
When it came time for Casey Lair to buy a boat, the choice was clear.
In fact, he says, there really wasn’t much of a choice to be made at all.
“We had bought a lake house at Table Rock, and I just assumed that if I was going to have a boat, Cobalt is supposed to be the best boat made – and it’s made in Neodesha,” says Casey, who’s lived and worked in Neodesha for 32 years. “So that’s what I needed to have.”
Seven years and two boats later, Casey is a Cobalt Boats devotee. And he’s in good company: Tens of thousands of people across the country (and the world, for that matter) own a Cobalt luxury boat, all of which are built … Read More »
Who is the Catfish Capital?
Burlington or Chetopa? We’re breaking down these Southeast Kansas towns’ long-running catfish-catching rivalry
“My God, it’s gone!”
Fifty-one years ago, Burlington’s beloved Catfish Capital of the World trophy had been stolen on Mayor Charles S. Foster’s watch, and he wasn’t happy. According to a December 1966 article in the city newspaper The Daily Republican, “The mayor could see no reason that this Christmas season, when the hearts of all are filled with love and good will, that anyone would stoop to such a dastardly deed as stealing.”
Mayor Foster might not have understood it, but he surely thought he knew who was responsible for it: Chetopa. The battle between the two towns to decide which was the rightful Catfish Capital of the World had been raging for most of 1966, and now with the mysterious disappearance of that trophy, … Read More »
Little House, Big Story
Visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s former home near Independence
In its seven open months each year, the Little House on the Prairie Museum welcomes 20,000 visitors.
Some are locals. Many are families. A good number are “bonnetheads” – superfans of author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her “Little House on the Prairie” series – who travel there from hundreds of thousands of miles away.
Regardless of who they are and where they come from, they all pay a visit to that simple plot of prairie 13 miles southwest of Independence just to get a glimpse of where Laura and her family lived in a one-room log cabin in 1870.
“Every season, we get visitors from every state and about 20 different countries,” says Kristin Schodorf, executive director for the Little House on the Prairie Museum, which is one of a small handful of … Read More »
Thrive Allen County makes big strides for Southeast Kansas
You don’t have to search hard to see the impact Thrive Allen County has had in Iola.
There’s the new Allen County Regional Hospital, the soon-to-be-constructed grocery store in the heart of town, the bike sharrows painted in the streets. There’s the 7-plus-mile trail system on the south edge of the city, the Happy Tails Dog Park, and even the less-visible projects – like a pilot program to help public housing residents quit using tobacco to comply with new federal requirements.
Thrive Allen County either initiated or had a hand in every one of those projects – and they’re really just the tip of the iceberg…
Want to keep reading about Thrive Allen County? Check out the spring issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much … Read More »
Iola attracts multiple candy companies over the years, including Sifers Valomilk
Next time you spot Valomilk, that vintage chocolate-coated treat with a runny marshmallow center, make sure you thank Iola.
Valomilk’s creator, Sifers Candy Company, originated in Iola and was based there for several decades before moving its entire operation to Kansas City. It is one of a handful of candy manufacturers that have called Iola home since the late 1800s – including one of the country’s four Russell Stover factories, which is still based there today.
“You know candy was profitable here when three different men came to town before Sifers and all made big, big money from it,” says Donna Houser, volunteer with the Allen County Historical Society…
Want to keep reading about Iola’s candy history? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story … Read More »