Ozark Plateau—Places to Visit

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Ozark Plateau--Intro | Ozark Plateau--Rocks and Minerals
Ozark Plateau--Places to Visit | Other regions

Download fact sheet on the rocks and minerals of the Ozark Plateau.

Schermerhorn Park. Probably the best place to see the Mississippian limestones of the Ozark Plateau is Schermerhorn Park, located about one mile south of Galena on the east side of Kansas Highway 26. Shoal Creek, one of the major tributaries to the Spring River, flows through the park. This spring-fed, Ozarkian stream has been the major force shaping the basin, producing the physiographic features so common to the Ozark region--rolling hills and steep river bluffs. The park sits at the west end of a tall limestone bluff on the north side of the river.

Among the numerous caves carved into the region's Mississippian limestone is Schermerhorn Cave, located within the park. The spring that issues from the cave is home to the Dark-sided Salamander (Eurycea longicauda melanopleura), Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifiga), Graybelly Salamander (Eurycea multiplicata griseogaster), and the Grotto Salamander (Typholotriton spelaeus). Note: the cave entrance is locked and is not accessible to the public.

color photo of rock outcrop in winter with cave opening visible at bottom

Schermerhorn Cave, Cherokee County.

Galena Mining and Historical Museum. Check out the mineral and fossil specimens at this museum, located in the old train depot, 319 W. 7th, Galena, KS 66739 (620) 783-2192.

Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum. Located on historic U.S. Highway 66 (now called U.S. 69 Alternate), Baxter Springs is the oldest cowtown in Kansas. The Heritage Center and Museum at Eighth and East Avenues contains a variety of historical exhibits including a full-scale replica of a lead and zinc mine. The museum is open on weekends year round and at various times during the week: 740 East Avenue, P.O. Box 514, Baxter Springs KS 66713 (620) 856-2385.

Spring River Wildlife Area. This wildlife refuge is situated along the western edge of the Ozark Plateau, three miles east and a quarter mile north of U.S. Highway 69. This 424-acre area includes Ozark hardwood forest, native prairie, savannah, restored native grasses, and croplands. The Spring River runs for almost one mile along the eastern edge of the wildlife area. Most of the wildlife found here are typical of southeastern Kansas, but some are rare. For more information, contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, 507 E. 560th Ave., Pittsburg, KS 66762 (316) 231-3173.

Tri-State Mineral Museum. A good place to learn more about lead and zinc mining is the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum in Joplin, Missouri. It's located in Schifferdecker Park, 4 miles east of the state line on U.S. Highway 66. For more information, contact Tri-State Mineral Museum, 7th & Schifferdecker Ave, Joplin, MO 64801 (417) 623-2341.


Arruda, Joseph A., 1992, Fall field trip to the natural areas of southeast Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 92-22, 91 p.

Buchanan, Rex C., and McCauley, James R., 1987, Roadside Kansas--A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks: Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 365 p.

Evans, Catherine S., 1988, From Sea to Prairie--A Primer of Kansas Geology: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 6, 60 p.

Jackson, Julia A., editor, 1997, Glossary of Geology (Fourth Edition): Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute, 769 p.

Plummer, C. C., and McGeary, D., 1991, Physical Geology: Wm. C. Brown, Dubuque, Iowa, 543 p.

Schoewe, W. H., 1949, The Geography of Kansas: Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, v. 52, no. 3, p. 261-333.

Tolsted, Laura L., and Swineford, Ada, revised by Buchanan, Rex C., 1986, Kansas Rocks and Minerals: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 2, 60 p.

Wilson, Frank W., 1978, Kansas Landscapes--A Geologic Diary: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 5, 50 p.

Text by Liz Brosius, Kansas Geological Survey. Unless noted otherwise, illustrations by Jennifer Sims, Kansas Geological Survey; photographs by John Charlton, Kansas Geological Survey.

Ozark Plateau--Intro | Ozark Plateau--Rocks and Minerals
Ozark Plateau--Places to Visit | Other regions