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.
Rare fish found here include the Ozark minnow, black redhorse, and green-sided darter.
Several rare species of mussels are found in
the nearby Spring River, including the Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot.
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.
the twilight zone of Schermerhorn Cave the brilliant orange cave salamander moves through
rock wall crevices in search of insects.
Streams and small marshes
in the area are habitat of the
spring peeper, pickerel frog, and green frog.
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 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.
Picnic tables, restrooms.
Camping not allowed.
Discover what to see, eat and do in Kansas.
Plan your trip today, at TravelKS.com!
A short, unpaved trail circles the meadow uphill from the cave.
Click the icon to find a birding list for Cherokee County.
Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches
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
For a Google Map for this site,
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.
Funded by the
Chickadee Checkoff Program
Click here for a brochure!
Kansas web site
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use
requires written permission. If you are a Kansas resident, please
assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs
by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism