Artifacts from Osage arrowheads to Minuteman Missiles trace the history of the area. Bates County is home of the Battle of Island Mound that was fought in October 1862 and marked the first time African-American soldiers fought in the Civil War when the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry fought local guerrillas. A large mural and three interpretive panels tell the story of that battle and of Order No. 11.
Eight exhibit rooms and a large TimeLine Room show how people lived and worked: American Indian artifacts; Civil War; coal mining; pioneer memorabilia; veterans and other displays. Sci-Fi legend Robert Heinlein, born in Bates County, is highlighted.
A one-room schoolhouse can be toured. There is a barn for agriculture displays.
Open April-October. Closed holidays.