Minings Legacy

A Scar on Kansas

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

Behind the story

Reporter Mike Belt and photographer Thad Allender talk about the background to this series.

"A bad way to make a living"

Mining's legacy: A scar on Kansas

Coal, lead and zinc mining in southeast Kansas left the land scarred and contaminated with pollutants. And troubles persist. Read story.

Local resident recalls working in coal mine

Walter Wettstein went to work in a Crawford CoWalter Wettstein went to work in a Crawford County coal mine when he was 12 years old. Read story.

A couple of mines still exist

Most of the coal strip mining in Kansas ended in the 1980s, but there are two operations still active. Read story.

Big Brutus' glory days

It stood 16 stories tall. Its bucket could hold 90 cubic yards of earth. It was the second largest shovel in the world and hasn't moved in more than 30 years. Read story.

A landscape transformed

Earth's wounds run deep

Undermining is just one aspect of the damaging environmental effects left from years of mostly unchecked mining practices that are still evident. In 1983 the federal government placed the southeast corner of the county on a priority list for environmental cleanup. It became a Superfund site for the Environmental Protection Agency to deal with. Read story.

Polluted areas affect families' health

Rodney and Heather Woodcocks' 40-acre property is in an area with a history steeped in lead and zinc mining, and which became heavily polluted as a result of the mining waste carried by the wind from chat piles, and polluted water seeping out of abandoned mines into streams and other bodies of water. Read story.

Former strip mines turned into public haven for wildlife

When strip mining for coal ended more than 30 years ago in southeast Kansas, thousands of acres of scarred land were abandoned. Read story.

A tale of two cities

A Kansas town looks across a border and wonders, why not us?

Residents of Treece, Kansas, were stunned when they found out a little more than a year ago that they would not be included in the Picher, Oklahoma, buyout. Read story.

Oklahoma's plan for Picher to cost $50 million

The people of Picher, Okla., are leaving. Read story.

The legacy, in numbers

Compare Cherokee and Crawford counties to the rest of Kansas


Mining: A glossary of terms


Chat Piles near Treece, Ks.

Picher, Ok.

Tar Creek Superfund Area

How the land was mined

See how undermining and strip mining extracted resources from the earth

How the land was mined
The Superfund site

See a map of the area affected by mining

The superfund area