Fort Larned National Historic Site
Fort Larned
Location Pawnee County, Kansas
City Larned, Kansas
Area 718 acres
Established August 31, 1964
Visitors 30,000

Fort Larned National Historic Site is a historic site located near the city of Larned, Kansas. Run by the National Park Service, the 718 acre park's goal is to preserve the history behind Fort Larned, a military base that was built on October 22, 1859 and today remains an important part of Kansas and United States history. The NPS established Fort Larned as a National Historic Site in August of 1964, over one hundred years after the fort was first built.

History of the areaEdit

Fort Larned was built on October 22, 1859 by white men protecting the traffic of the Sante Fe against native Americans. Initially their primary objective was to make sure mail past through the area unharmed. After the Civil War ended, many people came to this part of Kansas, which greatly disturbed the indians of the plains. Many people died in confrontations between the two. After the Union Pacific Railroad reached Hays, the mail was delivered a different and much safer way. With the railroad, Fort Larned would receive a new duty: become an agency to the Native Americans, giving them large sums of money. Around this time the fort was also tasked with protecting the people who were laying train tracks, but shortly after this the government deemed that the fort was no longer needed, and sold it to a man who turned it into a ranch in 1884.

In 1966, years after the area had turned into a ranch, the president, Lyndon Johnson, agreed to turn the Fort Larned area into a National Historic Site, thus giving the site over to the National Park Service. The location appropriately was named Fort Larned National Historic Site. With this new property, the National Park Service was tasked with recreating one of the buildings. Amazingly, nine of the buildings from when it was first built remained. To date, the park improves the site every year. Currently the budget for the park, which receives 40,000 visitors a year, is $800,000.

Interestingly, the site was never attacked by indians. The indians in the area were known for attacking small groups of people after patiently waiting, knowing that attacking a working fort would be suicide.

Visitor informationEdit

Fort Larned entrance

Fort Larned entrance.

There is no entrance fee to gain entrance to Fort Larned National Historic Site. If a group wants to reserve a tour, they are allowed to do so all year long, though there are scheduled tours year round too. Pets are not allowed in any of the buildings and can not participate in the tours.

When visitors arrive at the site, they'll want to go to the visitor center where there will be a bookstore and a park ranger on hand who will explain to them the activities that they can participate in. The aptly named museum within the visitor center (called the Visitor Center Museum) contains objects related to the site and a short video explaining the history behind the park. The fort is opened from 8:30 to 4:30 everyday excluding some select holidays. However, the gates to the preserve are opened at 7:30, which allows visitors to try out some of the hiking trails that are made available to them.

During sumer months, the staff at the historic site will dress in clothes that men during the time wore at the fort, showing visitors what it may have been like to be around hundreds of years ago. The effect is especially profound in the original and older buildings, such as the Old Commissary.