Minings Legacy

A Scar on Kansas

In the early years of the last century, Cherokee and Crawford counties in southeast Kansas swelled with workers-immigrants from Eastern Europe who found in midwest mining jobs a backbreaking way to make a living in the New World.

Then the industries left.

Decades later, southeast Kansas is still dealing with the ramifications of the mining industry's heyday and withdrawal-and the costs of dwindling population, lagging economic standards and a scarred, unhealthy environment.

A three-day series started in the print edition on March 20, 2007; the River City Weekly documentary aired in two episodes, premiering March 21 and 28 — with the full video available at

The entire series, with additional multimedia story elements, appeared on starting March 20, 2007.

Project credits

Lawrence Journal-World

Mike Belt, stories
Thad Allender, photos and video
Karl Gehring, graphics
Dennis Anderson and Karrey Britt, story editors

Nathan Borror, design
Matt Croydon, data presentation
Isaac Bell, story production
Joel Mathis and David Ryan, online editors

Free State Studios

Brian Powell and Greg Hurd, video interviews

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Mining’s Legacy

Video interview

Geologist Jim McCauley

Photo slideshow

"A bad way to make a living"

Video interview

Former miner Walter Wettstein

Photo gallery

A landscape transformed

Video interview

Dave Drake, EPA project manager

Photo gallery

A tale of two cities

Video interview

Picher resident Jon Finn


River City Weekly

Video interview

Treece Mayor Bill Blunk

Video interview

Senator Pat Roberts

Video interview

Representative Doug Gatewood