Roadside Curiosities

Quirky. Quaint. Iconic. Interesting. See Southeast Kansas’s whimsy through your windshield.

67-Foot Norman No. 1 Derrick Replica

106 S 1st St

Neodesha is known as the birthplace of the Mid-Continent Oil Field. You can learn all about the oil history and its impact on the region at the Norman No. 1 Oil Well Museum. The site features a 67-foot oil derrick replica and also offers an RV park for visitors. Inside the museum, you’ll find an eclectic mix of exhibits – everything from Native American artifacts to Ringling Bros. clown memorabilia and more.

Call ahead to confirm museum hours and accessibility.

Tolen Creek Park Stone Marvels

1400 Cattle Drive

Tolen Creek Park just outside Parsons is a great place to stop and stretch your legs. Here you’ll find the dramatic works of famous Kansas artist Stan Herd, known for his “earthworks” pieces created on a massive scale. The 13-foot “Ancient Man” and a 25-foot-wide stone turtle, “Turtle Island,” can be found in the park, along with more than 1.5 miles of natural walking trails, a fishing pond and the circa 1895 Stone House. Little Labette Creek runs through and provides a diverse wildlife habitat.

Kansas’ oldest swing bridge

515 N Biddle, 1 block west of Main

Constructed in 1904, Moline’s Wildcat Creek Bridge is the oldest pedestrian suspension bridge in Kansas. Some restoration has been done over the years, but you can still manage a good sway. Plan your stop in Moline around lunch time and fuel up at the nearby Swinging Bridge Cafe.

Chainsaw art

2002 N Buckeye, Pfister Park

The sculpture garden located at the corner of 8th & Beech Street boasts more than 70 unique chainsaw art sculptures created by the art students at Coffeyville Community College.

Rock Creek Lake waterfalls

Rock Creek Lake

The 50-acre Rock Creek Lake is an integral part of Fort Scott’s city and rural water reserve system. The lake serves as a habitat for wildlife as well as a quiet haven for fishermen, canoeists, kayakers and nature lovers. The often-picturesque falls flow from Rock Creek Lake into the Marmaton River.

To reach the falls from Fort Scott, take 18th Street/Kansas Rd west to 195th South to the lake.

Kalida Castle & Cemetery

964 Osage Road

Woodson County is home to multiple historic relics. The Kalida Castle Cave, located east of Yates Center, was built from native sandstone – with towers, carvings and 70-foot rampart walls – over a utility cave used for perishable food storage.

Wealthy farmer James Davidson was inspired to have the castle built after visiting the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and marveling at its “White City.” The farmstead is private property, but structures are easily visible from the road, and tours can be booked through Woodson County Historical Society (620-625-2626).

Nearby Kalida Cemetery features many sandstone structures and head stones dating to the same era as the castle.

Wonders along Route 66


Cherokee County features the only stretch of historic Route 66 in Kansas (13.2 miles), and the communities here have wholeheartedly embraced the nostalgia.

You’ll find many great attractions along this Historic Kansas Byway, including the last rainbow arch bridge on the route, near Riverton, and in the towns of Baxter Springs, Galena and Columbus.

Other novelties include throwback diners, movie replicas, museums and souvenirs galore. Keep an eye open for the original boom truck that inspired the “Tow Mater” character in Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” series.

While you’re in the county, search out the tri-state marker near Galena and snap a photo while standing in three states at once: Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. (From U.S. 69, 7.25 miles east on U.S. 166/400 to a roundabout, 600 feet west on Downstream, then 1,000 feet south on an unnamed gravel road which dead ends at the stone marker built in 1938. (Driving directions courtesy Kansas Sampler Foundation)