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Crawford County, Kansas; you gotta visit here! For example, visit Big Brutus for a peek at mining history ….or just to see a very large piece of mining equipment! Believe me, it’s worth visiting! (Upcoming link to Big Brutus here!) Mining plays a big part of the area’s history. If you are making this your final destination or a stop along the way, it’s definitely worth spending some time here! And here’s a post about other places to visit in Kansas (coming soon.) (In the interim, here’s a link to attractions in Kansas City, KS, or KCK as the locals call it.)
And more about Crawford County, Kansas
Let’s get acquainted with Pittsburg, KS. This former mining town boasts a population of about 21,000 people. It’s the largest city in Crawford County, with a population of about 39,000. (The county seat is Girard, a smaller town of about 2,500 people.) A current claim to fame of Pittsburg is the home of Pittsburg State University. Their mascot is Gus Gorilla! And you will find gorilla replicas all over town. Back in the 1920s, Pittsburg State trademarked the gorilla, so they controlled the use of it. No other college in the US can use it without their permission! I’ll have a few more references to gorillas through this post. (I was instantly reminded of the Boise State Blue artificial turf that BSU trademarked.)
By the way, Pittsburg lies at the center of other attractions in the area. By making Pittsburg your home base during your stay, you can get to all the attractions in this post and the places in the “supporting posts” to this one.
Did you know that blogs are typically reader supported? So, buy me a hot chocolate! Or not!.
Another by the way, this post shows more pictures than I typically like to include, but I wanted a travelog, montage-type display. So, here it is!
…and there he is! That’s Gus! There are hundreds of gorilla replicas around town. Aren’t you proud of your team mascot as well? (My college mascot is a dragon – still another “by the way!”)
Here’s a presentation of everything we saw while visiting Crawford County. By the way, five of us participated in this visit as guests of @explorecrawfordcounty. Here’s a link to the visitor site.
- Big Brutus
- Drop the H!
- 9 Places to eat in Pittsburg
- Historical attractions
- Entertainment & shopping options in Crawford County, Kansas
- Ol’ Yale Farm in Crawford County, Kansas
- In The Garden – A store for outside your home or business – Crawford County, Kansas
- Street scenes and street art in Pittsburg, KS & Crawford County, Kansas
- Pittsburg State University & Gus the Gorilla
- Why you should visit Crawford County, Kansas
Read more about Big Brutus here. (Link to post coming soon.) Big Brutus came to life in 1963 and ran 24 hours daily until 1974. This electric shovel weighs in at over 9 million pounds! And it’s taller than a 15-story office building, with a 160-foot reach when fully extended upward. Again, more about it in a separate post.
I appear in all three pictures, but you must look hard to see me in the second and third sets. Because Big Brutus lives in a bowl, the appearance remains deceptive. Looking very closely at the right-side picture, you’ll see a blue-topped shelter on the bottom in front of the tracks that propel the shovel. I’m to your right as you view it. And at 6’2″, I’m not small! The linked post shows an enlarged inset of the area where I stand.
Want to see a shop for my road trip photos? You can have them printed as wall art or puzzles. They also work on coffee mugs, t-shirts and more! So, take a look. Maybe you'll see something you will like!
Drop the H!
Pittsburg, KS, acquired its name from Pittsburgh, PA. Upon its incorporation as a city in 1880, it naturally “kept its H” for a while!
In 1890, the federal government mandated that all the variations of “burg” as a suffix would “drop the H’ for consistency purposes. However, Pittsburgh, PA, fought the feds on it to reclaim their “rightful name.” Pittsburgh, PA, didn’t adopt the new name and, in 1911, successfully won the right to continue with that name. Currently, no other city or unincorporated place keeps the H.
As with most other cities, Pittsburg, KS, took no such action. So Pittsburg, KS, remains “correct!” Of course, they maintain that Pittsburgh, PA, is incorrectly named!
And Drop the H! remains a “mentioned phenomenon” in Pittsburg, KS, leading to the name of the Brewing Company.
9 Places to eat in Pittsburg
Follow the link below (coming soon) for more information on dining options in Pittsburg, KS, and the surrounding area! Here they are!
- Drop the H Brewing Company
- Bob’s Grill
- Circle’s Pecans
- Farm to Market
- Chicken Annie’s (and the story of chicken-eating places!)
- Palluccas Italian Market
- Two Brothers Mining Company
- Jimmy Johns!
Okay, Jimmy John’s does offer “gourmet sandwiches,” but not a place to visit unless you need a quick meal to get you on your way. (But it’s my “go-to” place when I need a sandwich without the wait! And don’t miss their chocolate chip cookies! No, I’m not getting paid by Jimmy Johns!)
Crawford County, Kansas, has its own historically significant places. Much of it revolves around mining and the growth of the area. Although mining has mostly ended, manufacturing employs a substantial share of the workforce, at over 13%. The other top employment areas are education and health services. That’s common for an area that’s home to a university. And most counties do have significant employment in health services. (Gotta take care of our people!)
Historical attractions, therefore, include museums and displays about the mining industry.
Crawford County, Kansas, lies in proximity to Route 66. We visited Galena, Kansas, on the route. That town played a role in the movie Cars and helped to amp up the Route 66 saga. Here’s a link to a separate post about Route 66 in the area. (Link coming soon.)
The license plate substitute (for the front plate) for sale here can be used in any of the 19 US states that don’t require a front license plate. Kansas is one of them. By the way, here’s a useless piece of trivia. “You can start in a state such as Arizona or Michigan and drive through every state that doesn’t require a front plate without driving into a state that does!” I know; why would you want to do that? And why do you need to know that? For those trivia nuts, here’s the link! (Another by-the-way; if I get demand, maybe I’ll write a post about that road trip! If I get enough, go ahead and ask for it!! I enjoy the off-beat and unusual. But don’t expect me to make the trip; I’ve got too many other places to go!)
And more attractions
Big Brutus, seen above, represents another historical attraction. There are also other museums about the mining industry. For example, this large but abandoned construction dragline ( image below) will soon be moved to a public location for display. Maybe the equipment will receive the same prominence as Big Brutus someday!?!?!
This one will appear at the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin, KS. I’ll have to come back and visit when it’s “ready for Prime Time!” And make a comparison to Big Brutus!
Entertainment & shopping options in Crawford County, Kansas
As I saw in another town a T-shirt says, “A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere!” Those of us from the Midwest often hear that about many of the rural areas and small towns and small cities in our states. Sometimes, we like it that way, but mostly, we want to show off what we have. Pittsburg and Crawford County do that well! Welcome guests from all over. To paraphrase a quote from Humphrey Bogart, “Of all the small towns in all the world, we’re glad you stopped into ours!”
Main Street Axe Company
This place allows you to get in touch with your inner Daniel Boone! They feature knife and axe throwing. Be careful if you attempt to do either one or both. They have safety standards to protect their customers. Another member of our group and I had a bit of a contest. When we added up the scores, the match was tied! We didn’t have “extra innings” to decide a winner, as we had “bigger fish to fry” to mix metaphors!
A couple of people tried knife-throwing as well. I didn’t do that as sometimes I have trouble walking while chewing gum at the same time and didn’t want to press my luck and hurt myself! Just don’t get too crazy if you do this.
And if you visit Drop the H first, be careful with how much beer you sample before coming here! In any case, It’s a great place to have some fun.
To get in touch with our inner child, we rode the train, the merry-go-round, and the roller coaster! To save one last shred of my dignity, I have not included a picture! However, I can report that I didn’t fall off or scream in fear on the roller coaster! And I didn’t call frantically for my mommy!
Kiddieland started in the early 1950s with much of the same equipment as today. The place had several different owners until the city took over operation to provide stability and ensure the kids’ safety. If you are visiting with kids, be sure to stop.
As pickleball continues to gain in popularity, the court is busy much of the time. In fact, Pittsburg is home to a pickleball champion, and the court bears his name.
Want to try your hand at this rapidly growing sport?
By the way, when I tried that, I pulled my hamstring! But that was a few years ago.
Kansas Crossing in Crawford County, Kansas
When we checked into the Hampton Inn for our stay, they handed us a $20 voucher for casino play. We headed for the casino after our day’s activities were completed. I hit the jackpot! Since we couldn’t cash out of the $20, I cashed out and continued playing on the original $20. I did that a few times and ended up with the cash shown above when I finished! For the first time in my life, I walked out of a casino with more money than I had when I arrived!
Gorilla Country Store
This store specializes in Pittsburg State Gorilla apparel. It’s a great place and, according to online reviews, well respected by those providing feedback. Steve Scott, the owner, works the store much of the time, and he told me it didn’t feel like working! I once heard, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life!”
Of course, the store is full of gorilla merchandise, including the replica I purchased! Here’s the gorilla replica and the t-shirt I bought.
And there you have it! If for no other reason than the unique mascot, consider stopping at the store to marvel at the red and yellow or buy something related to the Pittsburg State Gorillas! As often happens, especially in a small town, high school and college athletics provide a rallying cry for the community. Thanks, Steve Scott, for your place in the community! Here’s a link to their Facebook page.
By the way, had enough gorillas yet?
Just keep looking. As I said, this town is “into” gorillas! This one fits a couple of categories, such as here with Gorilla Country, a section about the gorillas, and street art!
Books & Burrow
It is an excellent store with something for everyone!
The owner and owner, Darcie Shultz, is a proud member of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, and the store is dedicated to highlighting Indigenous authors and stories. Darcie recently announced the formation of BEYOND THE PAGE, a soon-to-be 501(c)(3) organization “dedicated to enriching the community through diverse literary, cultural, and artistic experiences that foster new perspectives and spark creativity.” The non-profit will focus on book choice and ownership, equitable access, community partnerships, and diverse representation for area children and youth.
Minors + Monroe
Minors + Monroe next to the bookstore. This store is family owned and operated since 2018. In addition to men’s clothing, the patio behind the store offers occasional music performances from local artists. It’s just another benefit to the community.
ArtForms art gallery
While visiting, we attended the Friday night annual street fair and art show. In addition to arts and crafts on the closed Main Street, many merchants remained open into the evening. In particular, ArtForms Gallery. I decided their images were better than mine! Here’s the link!
Ol’ Yale Farm in Crawford County, Kansas
Here’s another place to visit in or near Crawford County, Kansas! They have kiddie rides and are building more of them. They want to become a complete fall entertainment venue. That was a fun visit to cap our time here. Even a few geese to show off the farm! They are open from mid-September until the end of October, after the harvest of the pumpkins!
And buy your fall produce here! Also, let’s look at their website to learn more about their shopping and attractions. Here’s the link.
In The Garden – A store for outside your home or business – Crawford County, Kansas
We had a visit to this garden store. They featured dozens of gorillas for sale, with more coming in regularly. Of course, other displays exist, but the gorillas are front and center. I’m sure many homes have gorillas on their lawns or in their gardens!
Street scenes and street art in Pittsburg, KS & Crawford County, Kansas
This collage (or montage) shows various street art around town. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so I won’t try to explain!
Pittsburg State University & Gus the Gorilla
Crawford County, Kansas, supports higher education with the presence of Pittsburg State University. The university started in 1903 as Auxiliary Manual Normal School. It became a four-year school ten years later as Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg. In 1959, the name changed again to Kansas State College of Pittsburg. Finally, in 1977, the name was simplified to Pittsburg State University. Today, they feature a College of Arts and Sciences, Gladys A. Kelce School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Technology and Applied Science. Anyway, you may be visiting for a number of reasons. Maybe you are visiting to see the university? Either as a visitor, a prospective student or parent of a student, an alum, or anything to do with the University!
Why you should visit Crawford County, Kansas
Or maybe the question is, “Why shouldn’t you!” Just think of everything you’ve learned here and how much you’ll see with a visit. So, come to learn about the mining industry history and stay for the shopping and eating places. If you are visiting the university, check out the other places to visit. And eat!
In addition to the Mined Land Wildlife Area in West Mineral, KS, which hosts Big Brutus, and the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin, KS, you’ll find the Crawford County Historical Museum in Pittsburg. Other museums are nearby in Joplin, MO, and Baxter Springs, KS. And more if you look!
In any event, you can see much about the area while visiting.
And Crawford County will welcome you!
Classic Rock Recollection
“We are the Champions” by Queen
We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the World
Written by: Freddie Mercury (honoring the Gorillas and their three national titles in football!)
#thedrivebytourist @explorecrawfordcounty #pittsburgks #Bigbrutus #Gorillacountry