Caldwell, Kansas: Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World

If you want to see bland, everyday box turtles, go somewhere else. Look for the wall mural on Main St.

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Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World

The Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World is far from dead! Caldwell, Kansas is very proud of its history, and part of that history is the fame it has gained by being known as the ORNATE BOX TURTLE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD since 1986.

The town has a lot of wild west history too! I was told that at one time in the 1870's this wild cow town had more prostitutes per capita than anywhere else on earth! Fights and gunfights often took place on the streets of Caldwell. Two museums in town document the history. They are open by appointment. A man by the name of Carson Ward is one that can show people the museums and answer many questions about the turtle and the wild history of the town. Just about anyone in town is willing to answer questions and assist those wanting to know more about the town's history.

[sarah, 07/06/2008]
Ornate Box Turtle Mural

A very well done and colorful painting of the state reptile of Kansas on the side of a building on the main street in Caldwell, Kansas. You can't miss it when driving north on main street. We were told it was painted by Marty Capron, who paints murals on buildings in Kansas. We drove through Caldwell after reading about it on once being the Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World.

A lady at a small shop near the painting told us Caldwell is still the turtle capital. She had a few post cards and other turtle items for sale.

[Mike and Judy, 06/20/2007]

Ornate Box Turtle t-shirt.

Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World

To celebrate the 20th anniversary (1986-2006) of the Ornate Box Turtle as the state reptile of Kansas, a professional wildlife artist has designed a special t-shirt. Marty Capron of Oxford, Kansas designed the shirt.

Marty is the same artist who did the very large painting of an Ornate Box Turtle on the side of a building on Main Street in Caldwell, Kansas. Information about the t-shirt along with links to historic photos and other Ornate Box Turtle related materials can be found from Just click on Ornate Box Turtle links at the top of the page and follow related links.

[Larry Miller, 03/26/2006]

Governor enacts important Ornate Turtle legislation.

Ornate Box Turtle Capital

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]
Former Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World

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]

Ornate Box Turtle Capital of the World

Main Street, Caldwell, KS
Just north of the Oklahoma line on US Hwy 81.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Twister (The Movie) MuseumTwister (The Movie) Museum, Wakita, OK - 20 mi.
Upended 18-Wheel TruckUpended 18-Wheel Truck, Tonkawa, OK - 30 mi.
Large Dog StatuesLarge Dog Statues, Billings, OK - 37 mi.
In the region:
Great Salt Plains, Jet, OK - 42 mi.

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