Schermerhorn Park

Wildflowers abound in the glade at Schermerhorn Park
Black-eyed Susan and rose gentian are just two of the many different species of wildflowers to be seen at Schermerhorn Park.
- All photos by Jim Mason

Like Dorothy, you might think you're not in Kansas any more as you explore Schermerhorn Park, just south of Galena, in the 50-square-mile "Kansas Ozarks".  The hillsides are dominated by white and Shumard's oaks and bitternut and shagbark hickories.  Tallgrass prairie glades are sometimes found on hilltops.  One such glade is preserved within the park and may be explored via a short unpaved trail.

Many of the state's threatened and endangered species live in the Kansas Ozarks.  These species are protected by law and should be left alone.

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Rare fish found here include the Ozark minnow, black redhorse, and green-sided darter.

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Several rare species of mussels are found in the nearby Spring River, including the Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot.

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The Mississippian limestone of the area contains numerous caves with small outflowing streams.  One such cave and spring is located within the park and provides a home for graybelly, grotto, dark-sided and cave salamanders. This cave is nearly 1/2 mile in length and was not completely mapped until 1986.  The entrance is blocked with a steel gate to preserve the delicate habitat within.  At the twilight zone of Schermerhorn Cave the brilliant orange cave salamander moves through rock wall crevices in search of insects.

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Streams and small marshes in the area are habitat of the spring peeper, pickerel frog, and green frog.

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Gray myotis, eastern pipistrelle, big brown, and red bats live in the area.  The eastern pipistrelle and gray myotis are known to use Schermerhorn Cave.

 

THE KANSAS OZARKS

Geological remnants of Mississippian times are found in the limestone cave region of the 55 square mile Ozark Plateau in the very southeast corner of Kansas. The cherty limestones of the area were developed in marine environments during the late Mississippian Period (345 million years ago).   Today it is characterized by sinkholes, caves, swift streams and steep cliffs. The well drained cherty soils are poorly suited for agricultural use. Because of rich veins of lead and zinc ores below the surface this tri-state district became a lead and zinc mining center of worldwide importance in the early 20th Century. Much of the original Ozark Oak-Hickory forestlands still remain in this region.  The white and Shumard's oaks, and bitternut and shagbark hickorys dominate the landscape of steep limestone bluffs and clear streams.

Watchable wildlife includes ornate box turtles, five-lined skinks, slider and painted turtles, white-tailed deer, eastern chipmunks, and gray and fox squirrels. In late summer evenings, listen for chuck-will's-widows, whip-poor-wills, great horned owls, barred owls, and eastern screech-owls and the high-pitched chirp of flying squirrels. With a flashlight you might be able to see this nocturnal rodent gracefully glide from tree branch to nearby tree base, climb up, and glide again. Woodland birds found in this area include red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees, scarlet tanagers, and yellow-throated warblers.  Look for the gourd-shaped mud nests of cliff swallows under the Shoal Creek bridge and watch their aerial acrobatics in May and June when the colony is most active.

The new nature center sits atop a hill in Schermerhorn Park.
The building and stone terraces were
constructed by the WPA.

The Southeast Kansas Nature Center of Galena is prominently located on a hill overlooking the park and Shoal Creek.  It is a structure built in the 1930's by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  Originally a meeting place for Boy Scouts, it has been rehabilitated for use as a nature center.
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Picnic tables, restrooms.

Camping icon Camping not allowed.

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Trail icon A short, unpaved trail circles the meadow uphill from the cave.

Click here to get county birding lists for Kansas. Click the icon to find a birding list for Cherokee County.

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

Frontier Military Scenic Byway logo Schermerhorn Park is at the south end of the
Frontier Military Scenic Byway.

Schermerhorn Park map

Directions: From the intersection of K-66 and K-26 in Galena (22 miles S of Pittsburg), go 2 miles south on K-26. The park is on the east side, on a steeply sloping stretch of the road just before you reach Shoal Creek bridge.

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map for this site, click here.

Ownership: The entity responsible for management of Schermerhorn is the City of Galena.  Contact them at (620) 783-5207 or (417) 439-3234 if you have specific questions about use or management of this site.
Visit this web site for more information, including hours of operation and a program schedule.

24 acres

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Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to Jim Mason