Baxter Springs is a city in Cherokee County, Kansas located along the Spring River. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,238. It is the most populous city of Cherokee County. From an early trading post, the city grew dramatically with the expansion of cattle ranching in the West and was the first "cow town" in Kansas following the Civil War. its population grew dramatically into the early 1870s in association with the cattle drives. After railroads were constructed into Texas, cattle drives no longer were made to Baxter Springs and other points along the trail, and the towns declined. The city later had some economic success in the early twentieth century associated with lead mining in the area. The city protected its land, and owners and operators chose Baxter Springs for their residences and business offices. In 1926 the city's downtown main street was designated as part of the transcontinental U.S. Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. By the 1940s, the high-quality lead had mostly been mined, and the industry declined. Some towns nearby disappeared altogether. Environmental restoration to correct damage left by mining has been underway for some time.