3,000 people and counting have visited The Way We Worked in Franklin since it opened in May– not bad for a town with a population of 200 residents. Built on the original site of the United Mine Workers Association Hall, the Miners Hall Museum is a repository for the rich mining history of southeast Kansas. The spirit of work is everywhere at the museum, from the mining artifacts on display to the daily demonstrations of a working dragline and shovel to the 85 volunteers and docents who contribute their time as greeters, tour guides, and housekeepers for The Way We Worked.
Franklin’s history as a coal mining community dates back to the early 1900s when immigrants from European countries, including Italy, Germany, England, Yugoslavia, and Slovenia, poured into southeast Kansas to work in the mines. The community has been the site of many notable events, including the march of the “Amazon Army” in 1921 and, more recently, a devastating tornado in 2003. Through it all, Franklin’s residents drew on their strength and resilience to pull through, as Linda O’Nelio Knoll notes in her essay, “The Spirit Remains.”
The Kansas tour of The Way We Worked Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition may be coming to a close on June 23, but there is still plenty to see and do in and around Franklin. Click here for more information about upcoming events at the Miners Hall Museum.
UPDATE! The final visitor count at the Miners Hall Museum was 5,674 when it closed on June 23, 2013.