• Aerial View of Fort Larned

    Fort Larned

    National Historic Site Kansas

Traveling Trunks

A park volunteer or park ranger can bring Fort Larned to your classroom with the Traveling Trunks Program!

The Fort Larned National Historic Site is pleased to sponsor the Traveling Trunks Program conducted by Park Volunteer David Clapsaddle, Ph.D. and the park staff. Dr. Clapsaddle has created seven separate programs to bring to your students. Each program has a trunk of 19th century vintage accompanied by a story related to the artifacts contained in the trunk. Each story relates to the Santa Fe Trail. These presentations includes a reading of the story, a display of the artifacts, and a question/answer period. Programs require about forty-five minutes and are available at no cost to elementary schools, public and private.

To schedule one of the trunks e-mail us or contact Fort Larned at 620-285-6911.


About the Trunks:

A Tale of Two Towns tells about the birth of the Santa Fe Trail through the eyes of eleven year old George whose father owns a store in Franklin, Missouri from which the first expedition to Santa Fe occurred in 1821. A contrast between Franklin and Santa Fe is well described.

I Heard a Coyote Howl is the story of Box Elder, a Cheyenne boy, twelve years of age, a resident of the Cheyenne/Sioux village located thirty miles west of Fort Larned in 1867. Central to the story is the destruction of the village by U.S. Army troops. Though Box Elder is a fictional character, the account of the army's attack is true to the historic record.

Charley's Trunk, a companion to I Heard a Coyote Howl, tells the story of Charley, a twelve year old boy, the son of an army officer who travels with his parents from Fort Riley to Fort Larned in 1867 at the time of the army's attack on the Cheyenne/Sioux village. Along the way, Charley acquires a number of keepsakes which he stores in a trunk. In several ways, these artifacts help students to interpret the story in a concrete manner.

A Long Way to Santa Fe tells the story of Robert Earl, a ten year old lad who accompanies his father's wagon train from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1850. En route, Robert experiences the slow, monotonous travel of the trade caravan interspersed at times with exciting moments of adventure.

No Pot of Gold tells the true story of seven-year-old Marian Russell who travels with her mother and little brother Will to Santa Fe in 1852, the first part of a long trip intended for California. Along the way, Will says, "There is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow." But the little family never reaches California. Rather, they are forced to halt their journey at Albuquerque, and there is no pot of gold. Regardless, the story is full of surprises as Marian and Will cross present Kansas and traverse New Mexico, the land of enchantment.

Old Bill Williams - Even as a youngster Old Bill could fire a musket like a grown man. Old Bill grew up in Missouri where his playmates were Indian children. As he grew older, he became an expert hunter and trapper. In 1825, when the United States government sent a team of men to survey the Santa Fe Trail, Old Bill who spoke several Indian languages was employed as an interpreter. The story follows Old Bill through his Santa Fe Trail survey experiences and to his death at the hands of Indians many years later.

El Hombre tells the story of Julio, who travels with his merchant father from Santa Fe to the railroad heading at Hays City, Kansas in 1868. Through only twelve, Julio is expected to conduct himself as an adult and shoulder his fair share of the work. The story is climaxed by your Julio being given his father's watch, a symbol of manhood. While the story has a "coming of age" theme, it also tells the story of Mexican involvement in the Santa Fe trade, an often overlooked part of the Santa Fe Trail history.


Additional Educational Opportunities
Explore Fort Larned's history in the classroom with Curriculum Materials or Plan A Field Trip to Fort Larned!

Did You Know?

Fort Larned NHS aerial view

Military planners located Fort Larned in a looping curve of the Pawnee Fork. General Hancock later grumbled that the river would accommodate a surprise attack against the fort. More...