By Don Lowe 

   It’s an exciting time for Baxter Springs, Kansas, Historical Society as this organization had a ceremony in late May to officially break ground on a Route 66 Roadside Park that is expected to be a delightful addition for this community. 

   According to a press release with details about this forthcoming park, it will adjoin the Route 66 Visitors Center and provide parking for downtown Baxter Springs, as well as showcase a mural wall and a statue commemorating Baxter Springs’ heritage as the first Cowtown in Kansas. 

   “I’m incredibly excited to start work on this project,” said Jordan Adams, Historical Society Board President. “This will serve as a fantastic gateway to downtown shops and restaurants, while highlighting the colorful history of our area.” 

   As for how this idea originated, Adams recalls, “The project was the brainchild of Phyllis Abbott, one of our historical society board members and former board president. The lot was originally occupied by a vacant building, and we were fortunate the owner finally decided to donate it. 

   “Since we own and operate the visitors center, we wanted to have a tourist attraction that would function to both educate and accommodate by creating a parking area for downtown.” 

   Going into much more descriptive detail, Adams says the main features of the park “will be the mural wall and the longhorn statue. The mural will be anticipated to have a life of about 10-15 years, with each new generation of board members commissioning an update that reflects the community. 

   “In terms of amenities, we will have parking, a drinking fountain and a pet relief and watering area for tourists.” 

   In recognizing some of those who have been most instrumental helping bring this to reality, Adams says, “The Hartley Family Trust has been our key partner. We mentioned several large donors in an earlier press release, but the Hartley family have been supporters from the beginning. 

   “We were also fortunate to receive a cost-sharing grant from the State of Kansas. Additionally, Cory Moates and Kelli Abbott have been extraordinarily helpful in coordinating construction.” 

   Adams rationalizes that what makes this park such a big deal is “it will be a jumping off point to downtown shops and an opportunity to highlight our long and varied history. Additionally, it serves to beautify the community and improve living for local residents.” 

   While being reflective on how wonderful it has been to see this come together, Adams says, “Volunteer work in a digital age is hard. People can essentially shop for a community, and that is a great thing. 

   “At the same time, it makes it all the more heartwarming when local people come together to create a better community experience, not just for them but also for the people around them. I’m proud of the folks in this area for coming together and creating something that will improve the lives of residents for years to come.” 

Baxter Springs Historical Society Route 66 Roadside Park Fast Facts

Address: 740 East Avenue, #740, Baxter Springs, Kansas

Phone Number: 620.856.2385   


Email Address: [email protected]

Park Details: For more information about the Route 66 Roadside Park Project, contact Mary Billington, Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum Director

Timeline: With the groundbreaking now completed, construction is expected to be completed in time for the next tourist season. Major construction is expected to be completed within six to nine months, with completion of the mural before the next tourist season, as well.