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.