Caldwell, Kansas: Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the WorldIf you want to see bland, everyday box turtles, go somewhere else.
Visitor Tips and News About Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World
There is very little in town about its turtle history at this time, but the big TURTLE painting by Marty Capron of Oxford, Kansas is still on a Main Street building. Also, the high school website gives information about the Ornate Box Turtle. I have also heard that some people in Caldwell plan to put some type of display together for the local museum.
Two photos of interest: One is of Kansas Governor John Carlin signing the official bill in the high school gym on Monday, 14 April 1986 as students from the 1985-86 Caldwell class watch. The other is of the late Cleta "Ornate Turtle" Baker showing one of her pet turtles to two visitors from Topeka, Kansas. It was taken about two years before her death and the closing of her shop, Cleta's Etc. Shop, which was located on Main Street in Caldwell.[Larry Miller, 01/20/2002]
Regarding Caldwell, Kansas, Box Turtle Capital of the World: Yes Cleda Baker, the lady who promoted turtles, passed away. She was a very neat lady and loved turtles. Apparently when she passed away the town got rid of the turtle pictures. Did you ever read the story about how the Box Turtle Capital of the World came about, how the Ornate Box Turtle became the Official Kansas Reptile?
Box turtles are neat. I have 2 for pets, I've had the favorite, Herman, since 1985. He is about 35 years old, give or take a year. He is also a nut. Loves to have his picture taken, and likes people food. He is crazy about cheese, pie (with ice cream) just to name a few.
When Cleda's Etc. business closed, that was the end of turtle caps, turtle t-shirts, turtle pins, any kind of turtle collectibles. Even though Kansas has the Ornate as its Official Reptile, it has no collectibles, and is apparently not interested in getting any. The laws that protect the Ornate are not enforced, except if you are exporting them by the truck load.[Doyle Mayse, 12/08/2001]
Just an update....my husband and I went through Caldwell to look for the box turtles, and well, we were told by a resident that "the lady who promoted the turtles has died, and Caldwell is no longer the Ornate Box Turtle capital of the world". We drove around for a long time and didn't find ANYTHING about turtles![Madeline, 10/01/2000]
Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I went through Caldwell, KS in May so we could pick up box turtle stuff for my mother. Well, we were informed that "the lady that 'pushed' the box turtles has died and the town no longer is claiming to be the box turtle capital of the world".[Madeline, 12/05/1999]
The most recent claim to fame for Caldwell came in 1986 when the town's 6th grade class successfully campaigned to have the Ornate Box Turtle named the official state reptile of Kansas. The Governor even traveled to the town of 1200, located 50 miles southwet of Wichita, to sign the bill in the high school gym. The mayor signed an official proclamation making Caldwell, Kansas the Official Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World.
Turtle souvenirs such as t-shirts, postcards, buttons, hats, etc. are available in the town. A very large painting of an Ornate Box Turtle is on the side of a building on Main Street.[Larry Miller, 06/23/1998]
Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World
- Main Street, Caldwell, KS
- Just north of the Oklahoma line on US Hwy 81.