Fort Larned in Kansas, established in 1859 to protect travelers and the U.S. Mail on the Santa Fe Trail, is one of the country's best-preserved frontier posts of that era. Today, nine original stone buildings still outline the five-acre parade ground in what is now the Fort Larned National Historic Site.
©National Park Service
Kansas' Fort Larned was established in 1859 to protect travelers.
Seven adobe buildings were constructed in the fort's first year, and in the winter of 1864-65 a stone blockhouse was added for protection. More buildings were added the following year. The U.S. Army used the fort as a base during the Indian War of 1867-68. Fort Larned hosted Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, General George Armstrong Custer, and other famous Indian fighters, as well as the 10th U.S. Cavalry, an African-American regiment stationed across the West during the Indian wars.
In the early 1870s, the fort's role was to protect construction workers on the Santa Fe Railroad. By 1878, organized Indian resistance was broken and the rail line finished. Fort Larned, its old adobe buildings already crumbled, was abandoned.
In 1988, the National Park Service reconstructed the hexagonal stone block house. The fort has many furnished rooms that show how the soldiers lived, and the surrounding prairie has been restored with a mixture of native grasses and colorful wildflowers.
Fort Larned National Historic Site Information
Address: Six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156
Larned, KS 67550
Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Learn more about these other national historic sites:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- Kansas State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Kansas as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.