Watching the Fort
Although Fort Larned is often referred to as being "abandoned" by the Army when it was closed in 1878, there was always a military presence at the post between the time the main garrison left and the property was sold in 1884. These three soldiers of the "guard squad" were left behind to protect the government property at the vacent post. This ensured that the buildings and other property would be available if the Army decided to use the fort again. After deciding the fort would not be needed, the buildings and land were sold at public auction.
This picture came to the park in November 2012 by way of a visitor from Ohio. He found it in a stack of old photos that belonged to a deceased aunt. There was nothing on the picture identifying it as Fort Larned; he only knew the location because he and his family had visited the fort two years previously. The picture was most likely taken in 1878-1879. It's possible that the sergeant in the photo is "Frank Gibson" the Sergeant of the Guard who carved his name on the buildings.
Did You Know?
Fort Larned is located directly on the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail, which follows the Pawnee Fork. The Wet Route, which more closely follows the Arkansas River, is just a few miles to the south. More...