• Aerial View of Fort Larned

    Fort Larned

    National Historic Site Kansas

Frequently Asked Questions

Planning Your Visit

Where is Fort Larned and how do I get there?
Fort Larned is six miles west of Larned, KS. See Directions for details.

When is Fort Larned open?
The site is open daily, year round, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Central time, and is only closed on major holidays. See Operating Hours & Seasons.

How much does it cost to visit Fort Larned?
Admission to the site is free for everyone.

How long does it take to see Fort Larned?
To tour the museum, watch the film, and tour the fort's buildings, we suggest allowing about two hours.

Are there guided tours of the fort?
Scheduled or impromptu guided tours may be seasonally available in the summer and as staffing allows the rest of the year. If you are planning to bring a large group and would like a ranger-guided tour, please book a tour in advance. See Fees & Reservations.

Where are the restrooms?
Restrooms and drinking fountains are available in the visitor center and the picnic area.

What features are wheelchair accessible?

Currently, the visitor center and barracks/hospital buildings are wheelchair accessible. However, other walkways around the fort, other fort buildings, and the nature trail are not ADA compliant. The park is working to improve accessibility to the park's features.


Can I buy an entrance pass for the national parks at Fort Larned?

Because we do not collect entrance fees at this site, passes to the national parks are not available at Fort Larned. See Fees & Reservations for more information about obtaining passes from nearby sites.

 
Commissary Clerk's Desk

NPS

History - General

What Indian tribes lived in the area?
This area was utilized by the Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne. Pawnee, Sioux, and Plains Apache were also known to be in this area.

Where any famous people ever here? Yes, there were a number of famous visitors here during the Fort's history. Some of these people include George Armstrong Custer, Winfield Scott Hancock, H.M. Stanley, Buffalo Bill Cody, Kit Carson, Ned Wynkoop, and Philip Sheridan.

Was the Fort ever attacked by Indians?
No. However, the Kiowa once managed to steal 172 horses from the post. In another instance, the sentry shot a Cheyenne man who did not halt when ordered. For the most part, the fort deterred attack. The fort supported military operations in the area, such as escorting traffic on the Santa Fe Trail, when necessary.

Where was the Santa Fe Trail in relation to the Fort? The Wet Route of the Santa Fe Trail was a few miles to the south. The Dry Route came directly around the north or south side of Fort Larned, depending where the wagons crossed the Pawnee Fork. As you enter the site today, you cross the historic location of the Santa Fe Trail.

Where were Camp on Pawnee Fork and Camp Alert? Camp on Pawnee Fork was the official name of the camp located approximately 2 ½ miles east of this site along the Pawnee Creek. When the post was located at this site, it was first known as Camp Alert, and then later, the name was changed to Fort Larned.

Why was this site selected for the fort? In general, the site was selected for its proximity to the Santa Fe Trail and its distance relative to other forts in Kansas. Specifically, this fort was sited along the Pawnee Fork for its easy access to water. Some thought that the creek gave a natural defense on three sides of the Fort.

 
Shops

NPS

History – Fort Larned's Buildings

Are these the original buildings? Yes, the nine buildings around the parade ground are the original buildings, retaining significant portions of their original construction. Significant restoration work has also been done to protect the buildings and to return them to historic conditions. The blockhouse in the corner is the only building that has been entirely reconstructed.

When were these buildings built? The remaining original buildings were started in 1866 and finished in 1868. Buildings built out of other materials at the fort before and after these structures have not survived.

Where did all this graffiti come from?
The vast majority of the graffiti you see on the stone buildings is from visitors who came to the Fort when it was privately owned. There are very rare instances where soldiers carved in the rock. Today, defacing the buildings is prohibited by law.

Where did they get the stone to build the Fort? Most of the stone was quarried about 3 miles east of here, near what is called Lookout or Jenkins Hill, in quarries now on private land.

Was there ever a wall or a stockade around the Fort? No. Timber was scarce, making the construction of a stockade impractical. It was also thought that the Pawnee Fork on two sides and its muddy oxbow on a third provided reasonable protection against a direct assault.

Why is there an empty space between the shops building and the new commissary? That vacant space intended for a new guardhouse. The foundation was laid, but the building was never completed. The blockhouse was used as a guardhouse instead.

Why are there gun slits only on one side of the two buildings on the south side of the parade ground? Military planners presumed an attack would come from the open field on the south side of the fort and so concentrated the defenses in that direction. The third building with rifle slits, the blockhouse, provided 360 degrees of protection.

What was the purpose of the blockhouse? The blockhouse was built for defense, but when it proved to be unnecessary, it was converted into the guardhouse, or jail.

Where were the stables? Records indicate that the stables were south of the Old Commissary building.

How thick are the walls? The thickness of the walls vary from 2 to 2 ½ feet.

 
Lady in Company Officer's Doorway

NPS

History – Life on Post

How many men were stationed here? The fort is designed to accommodate four companies of 100 men each. Over the fort's lifetime, the average number of men stationed here at any given time was between 200-250. The actual number varied quite a bit, and at times was much higher or much lower than the average.

Do you have a list of men who served here? No. Information on the men who served in the individual companies can be obtained from the National Archives in

Washington , D.C. However, we do have several references to men who were assigned to special duty, hospital records, guard house and prison records. We also have the records listing all the companies that were stationed here.

How many men were in a company? A company varied in size, containing from 64 to 100 men. However, many times when men were discharged, their positions remained vacant for some time. Desertion and disease reduced the number of men also. Sometimes a company numbered from 35 to 60.

How many officers were there to a company? There were three commissioned officers per company. One was the captain and the other two were 1st and 2nd Lieutenant. There were also non-commissioned officers such as sergeants and corporals.

Were there any women out here at the Fort? Yes. A few of the officers brought their wives and families with them. A few of the soldiers might have brought their families with them. There were army laundresses that were part of the army.

Where did the families live? Officers' wives and children stayed in the officers' quarters. Enlisted men's families stayed in adobe/sod houses behind the barracks.

Where did the wagon trains stay? Wagon trains usually camped near the creek, but off the military reservation, which would be approximately two miles away.

History – The Ranching Period and Other Bygones
Is the tunnel still here? "When I was a kid we used to come out here and go through the escape tunnel." No, that tunnel is no longer here. Because it was not an original tunnel, it has been refilled. That tunnel was dug by the Fort Larned Historical Society and the Boy Scouts. They knew there was a tunnel somewhere in that vicinity, so they went to work and constructed that particular one in the 1950's. There is no historical evidence that shows that an escape tunnel was ever out here. however, there is a tunnel under the Blockhouse, located by an archeological crew in the summer of 1973. This tunnel is not an escape route, but is about a 20 foot tunnel that leads to a water well.

What happened to the big barn that used to be out here? The big barn that you may remember was actually the two barracks buildings that had been joined together. We have restored the barracks back their original configuration.

How many years was the Fort used as a ranch? The fort was used as a ranch for over 80 years, from 1885 – 1966.

What family owned this fort? The Frizell family owned the fort for 64 years, 1902 – 1966.

When this was a ranch, where did the ranch owner and the hired hands live? The Frizells lived in the Commanding Officer's House and the farm hands and families lived in the Company Officer's Quarters.

 
1868 Flag

NPS

The Flag

How high is the flagpole? The flagpole is 99 feet high.

How many stars are on the flag? There are 37 stars on the flag, reflecting the US flag in 1868.

Why does the flagpole look like a ship's mast? To reach its height, two poles are fastened end to end. As a ship's mast, it is made to withstand high winds. It was not so much a stylistic choice as it was a solution to an engineering problem.

Is that the original flagpole? No. The original flagpole was struck by lightning and burned in 1877.

How big is the flag? We fly several sizes of flags. The largest, the garrison flag, is 36' long by 20' high.

How long do the flags last in the Kansas wind? It depends on luck. Within a few days or weeks, wear usually starts to show. After a couple of months, the flag will certainly need repair. Flags are repaired and replaced frequently.

Did You Know?

Base-ball

Entertainment for Fort Larned's soldiers included checkers and cards in the barracks, bowling and billiards at the sutler's store, foot races, and "base-ball."