Pittsburg State a stop on the upcoming Big Kansas Road Trip 

Pittsburg State University is a stop on the 4th Annual Big Kansas Road Trip coming to Bourbon, Cherokee, and Crawford counties May 5-8. 

What is the BKRT? 

An event designed to provide the public with first-hand experiences with what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in rural communities in those counties — and that includes Pittsburg! 

Here’s how it works:  

  • People will choose what they want to do and when.  
  • There is no organized caravan or a single itinerary. 
  • A Big Kansas Road Trip color guide will be available at information centers in the three counties, as well as at businesses in those counties.  
  • Visitors also can view it at bigkansasroadtrip.com, where they’ll find a list of attractions, events, scenic drives and locally owned restaurants and shops to enjoy during the four days.
  • "Each person or family can design their road trip around the things they like,” said WenDee Rowe, project manager with the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which is organizing it. Some people may just want to do all the mining attractions, and others may want to explore one county per day. Families may have a quest to play on the playground in every town in the three counties. We just want everyone to have a good time exploring." 
  • In other words, come to campus to view art, take in nature’s beauty, and see the architecture of wonderfully preserved historic buildings as well as awe-inspiring new ones. Stroll meandering sidewalks or jump on the hike-bike trail extending east from the Centennial Bell Tower by Axe Library to the sprawling Kansas Technology Center, where you’ll see “Student’s Life” a sculpture by world-renowned artist Tom Corbin, in the courtyard. 
  • There are dozens of other places on campus to capture Instagram-worthy photos. Worth checking out: 
  • Gorilla statues 

Pose with one of several statues across campus that embody the university’s unique mascot, the Gorilla! The mascot dates to 1920 and at the time was slang for “roughnecks.” Today, it represents a symbol of strength. 

The Wooster Gorilla, an iconic fiberglass sculpture created in 1965 by the late Larry Wooster, an art instructor, can be seen on the south side of the Overman Student Center facing what is referred to as “The Oval.” 

Champions Plaza boasts an enormous bronze Gorilla statue by Tom Corbin. It’s the centerpiece of Champions Plaza in Gorilla Village east of Carnie Smith Stadium and is one of the most visited and photographed places on campus. 

The PSU Veterans Memorial  

It features a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and more than 3,400 engraved granite pavers, 50 state flags, a reflecting pool, and an eternal flame. The 250-seat amphitheater is a venue for special events including university-hosted Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in collaboration with the PSU Military Science Department and ROTC. It is open to the public 24 hours a day, year-round.  

Public art 

“The Night Song,” a bronze sculpture by award-winning artist Joe Beeler, faces Overman Student Center near Porter Hall, while his sculpture “The Healer” is at the entrance to the Bryant Student Health Center. 

Porter Hall is home to two galleries, the Harry Krug Gallery and the University Gallery, both of which offer frequent exhibitions and artist receptions throughout the year.  

Timmons Chapel, which overlooks the picturesque University Lake, is beloved as a setting for special occasions, from weddings to the annual Christmas Concert held since 1968. The gothic design features stone walls, a slate roof, bronze bells cast in Holland, and a pipe organ. Take a walk across the lake on a bridge to see the “Galloping Horse of Gansu," a larger-than-life bronze piece. It's a reproduction of an ancient Chinese sculpture made during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) and was a 100th birthday gift to the University from a dignitary in China.  

Two paintings by master artist Birger Sandzen are on permanent display in the lobby of McCray Hall, PSU's historic music building.  

"Beethoven," by Andy Warhol, is on permanent display on the second floor of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, a $33 million performance space. While visiting the center, be certain to take in the exhibit on display in the art gallery: currently, it’s a retrospective collection of photographs marking the end of Dr. Steve Scott’s 13-year presidency. 

The Centennial mural by artist Mark Switlik graces the north side of Mitchell Hall in the courtyard of Lindburg Plaza at the south edge of campus.  


Pittsburg State also has a presence at Fourth and Broadway, where the university collaborated with the City of Pittsburg and the Vecino Group on an innovative mixed-use space developed in the town’s most historic buildings. It’s called Block22, and parts are open to the public: the restaurants TOAST and Brick+Mortar Social House, which serve lunch and dinner, and Root Coffeehouse & Creperie, which also has locally made art and locally grown plants for sale. 

Beyond Pittsburg State 

In Bourbon County, visit the Fort Scott National Historic Site and National Cemetery, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, and the Gordon Parks Museum. 

In Cherokee County, visit Big Brutus, mined land wildlife areas, Schermerhorn Park, Tow Mater at Cars on the Route, and Historic Route 66.  

In Crawford County, find an eclectic mix of diners and restaurants including several that serve the area’s famous fried chicken, parks, Kiddieland amusement park, microbreweries, boutiques and bookstores, mined land wildlife areas, and museums.