FRANKLIN — Fourth graders from George Nettels Elementary flooded the Miners Hall Museum Friday to learn about the history of Crawford County.

The 65 students learned about the lives and culture of immigrant coal miners who helped build Crawford County in preparation for Kansas Day on Sunday.

Operations Manager Jason Russell gave students an overview of the Crawford County coal vein and towns in the area before splitting them into four groups. The groups visited four stations to learn about immigrant culture, mining work and tools, as well as miners homes and work facilities.

“Today we’re going to talk about immigrants from the Balkans who came over to mine coal,” Russell said. “We’ll talk about their hardships, like working in strip pits and 290-feet deep mine shafts, as well as what miners did in their leisure time.”

The fourth graders spent over an hour learning about drill bits, buildings, mining towns, music and toys, and even took a tour of the current Miners Hall quarterly exhibit, Carving a Lasting Legacy.

“At the end of the day, we hope they take away an appreciation of the hard work people put in to make southeast Kansas what it is today,” Russell said. “We want them to get a good knowledge base and hopefully bring their parents back for a tour of their own.”

Before coming to the Miners Hall Museum, the students stopped at the Crawford County Historical Museum where they donated pictures of Kansas state symbols for the newest exhibit.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.