Road Trip: Emporia, Chanute, Pittsburg and Parsons

Another road trip with my co-workers. This week we headed out to the eastern and southeastern parts of Kansas.

National Memorial to Fallen Educators

12 W. 18th Ave Emporia

Like so many memorials, this one is so sad that it even exists. The memorial honors school personnel who died on the job. The rainy day added to the sadness of the pictures.

The memorial sits next to an old schoolhouse on the edge of ESU’s campus, it’s part of the National Teacher Hall of Fame.  The monument was dedicated on June 12, 2014.

In 2015, Senator Jerry Moran introduced a bill to Congress to designate the memorial as the National Memorial to Fallen Educators. The bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump. 

Among the names are staff from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School, and Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion.

The oldest and what is believed to be the first school massacre in what would become the United States happened on July 26, 1764. Three native warriors entered a schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. Enoch Brown and 9 children were beaten to death by native warriors.

This monument is so very important as mass killings increase in our world.

From tragedy to triumph… Our next stop was in the small town of Chanute.

Chanute-Wright Brothers Memorial

5 W. Main

Chanute is named after Octave Chanute. I must admit we all figured the town’s name was tribal, so it was a surprise to us.  Chanute was a civil engineer and aviation pioneer.  Chanute never lived in the town; he designed the railroad that ran through the area.  He also wrote the book, “Progress in Flying Machines” in 1894. 

The Wright Brothers always kept a copy of the book on hand during their attempts at flight.  Chanute would become a mentor to the brothers.

Left to right: Octave Chanute, Orville Wright, and Edward C. Huffaker and Wilbur Wright
Courtesy: Library of Congress

The Memorial sits in a pocket park and is dedicated to Chanute and the Wright Brothers. It was dedicated in September 2003.  The metal sculpture of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane hangs on a mobile which moves with the wind.  The park is surrounded by blue signs that tell the story of Chanute and the Wright Brothers.

The sculpture is 23 feet from side to side and 20 long. The piece is surrounded by “people” in the park.  Many jumping with joy, and several with their pets.  The pictures don’t do the art justice, it’s cool up close.

We should have called this the memorials of southeast Kansas trip.

These are two separate sites, but they do tie together.  The Miners’ Memorial pays tribute to the men that worked the coal mines in Southeast Kansas.

Miner’s Memorial

2nd & Broadway 

While it does not commemorate a disaster, it represents the coal mining in the Pittsburg area.

This memorial includes a large statue of a coal miner and informational kiosks. It seemed like each stop should have a relic or object, but most were empty.

The monuments feature the names of miners, those with a star means they died as a result of their work in the mines.  Workers were required to crawl on their hands and knees all day because the ceilings in the mines were only three-feet high. The workers had to buy their own supplies and were paid in company scrip, not real money.

In 1919 Kansas miners went on strike, demanding better treatment.

Kansas Governor Henry Allen set up a “temporary capitol” on the third floor of the Hotel Stilwell to handle the strike. (See more on the hotel below)

That same year, Governor Allen passed a law called the Industrial Relations Act. The law made work strikes illegal. All labor disputes would be settled by a governor-appointed court of arbitration.

In February 1921, the United Mine Workers ordered a strike. Their leader, Alexander Howat, was arrested and jailed for breaking the Industrial Relations Act. Shortly after his arrest 10,000 miners went on strike.

As the strike continued, the families of the workers began to suffer so that’s when the women stepped up.

About 6,000 wives and children of miners staged several protests the mines.

Beginning on December 12, 1921, the Amazon Army, as they were called, blocked the entrances of the mines forcing them to close.

The Amazon Army carried red pepper flakes, to toss in the eyes of scabs and keep them away. There were a few incidents of violence and property damage.

In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark case, ruled that the Court of Industrial Relations was unconstitutional, and it was disbanded in 1925.

Stillwell Hotel

707 N Broadway 

The Hotel Stilwell was built from 1889 to 1890. Railroad tycoon Arthur E. Stilwell secured the funding for the building that bears his name.

In 1925, Clarence Darrow visited the hotel while concluding the Scopes Monkey Trial. The trial’s final verdict was so recent, Darrow held a press conference at the hotel.

The second-floor balcony also hosted a few speakers including President Theodore Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, and William Jennings Bryan.

The Stilwell is no longer a hotel, but rather apartments.  I was able to go inside and take a few photos thanks to the assistant manager’s kindness.  I would have loved to see more, but I did not want to push my luck.

Strengthen the Arm of Liberty: Parsons

2719 Main St.

We also made a stop at Parsons’ Middle School.  Standing proudly in front of the building is one of 26 miniature Statue of Liberty replicas still standing in Kansas.  To learn more, check out Strengthen the Arm of Liberty: Parsons.

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