PITTSBURG — Pittsburg and Crawford County have a rich history, much of which can be explored at the Crawford County Historical Museum, located just off the Highway 69 bypass west of Pittsburg.

“It always amazes me how Pittsburg residents who have been here their whole life, you know, 30, 40, 50-year-olds, will say ‘I didn’t realize that this was out here,’” said Museum Director Amanda Minton.

On Tuesday, the museum hosted an open house showcasing its attractions from 6 to 8 p.m. According to Minton, who also teaches history at Pittsburg State University, the museum aims to host such open houses at least once per year if not more often.

While some locals may not have taken advantage of everything the museum has to offer, others journey long distances to visit its exhibits.

“We get a lot of calls at the Chamber with people wanting information on the museum, because there are a lot of people that travel for history,” said Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, who attended the April 29 open house. “And so we try to stay on top of what they’ve got going on out here, the new additions, because we receive so many calls about the museum, that we want to be able to accurately relay, to people who are interested, new exhibits that they’ve got out here.”

Benson said since the last time he’d been to the museum, new exhibits included one about military history and another about coal mining.

Robert Zagonel, a volunteer with the museum and a member of the board that operates it, said an antique Pepsi truck at the museum is another new addition from within the past year or so.

Other improvements made in the past few years include a new roof, lighting, and flooring. Benson also noted that the museum has been making technological upgrades.

“If a group or a company wanted to come here and have a meeting or an off-site retreat, they’ve got up to date audio-visual equipment as well,” Benson said, “so this is just really a great asset to our community.”

In addition to its 15,000 square feet of collections related to Crawford County history, there are other things about the museum that make it unique as well.

“It’s also the people that come out here, so for example the fourth Sunday of every month we have the Pittsburg Old Time Fiddlers and Pickers that come out, and of course it’s always free to come out the museum,” said Minton. She added, however, that donations are always welcome. Other groups that meet at the museum include the Southeast Kansas Old Time Gas Engine and Tractor Club.

“What we want to do is to make our history be a part of the community,” Minton said, “and for the community to be a part of the museum as well.”