1) Where is Fort Larned and how do I get there?
Fort Larned is six miles west of Larned, KS. See Directions for details.
2) 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.
3) Is there an entrance fee?
There is no entrance fee - all buildings and programs are free to the public. Because we don't charge an entrance fee, we don't have any of the America the Beautiful passes. The Fees & Passes page has information on getting these passes from nearby sites.
4) How long does it take to see Fort Larned?
We suggest a minimum of two hours to see the museum exhibits, watch the film, and tour the fort's buildings.
5) Are guided tours available?
Scheduled or impromptu guided tours may be seasonally available in the summer and as staffing allows the rest of the year. You can also explore the historic sandstone buildings and the History & Nature Trail using the NPS App. If you're planning to bring a large group and would like a ranger-guided tour, please book a tour in advance. See Permits & Reservations for more information.
6) Where are the restrooms?
Restrooms and drinking fountains are available in the visitor center and the picnic area. There is also a composting toilet located in the parking lot by the pedestrian entry bridge.
7) What features are wheelchair accessible?
Most of the buildings at Fort Larned are wheelchair accessible due to the kafka paved company strees. Check out our Accessibility page for which buildings are accessbile and how to access them.
1) What Indians lived in the area?
The Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne roamed throughout the area around Fort Larned. Pawnee, Sioux, and Plains Apache were also known to be in this area.
2) Was the fort ever attacked by Indians?
No. However, the Kiowa once managed to steal 172 horses from the post. In another incident, a 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 Trial, when necessary.
3) Were any famous people 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) Why was this site selected for Fort Larned?
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.
1) 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 southeast corner is the only building that has been entirely reconstructed.
2) 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.
3) Where did the stone come from?
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.
4) Where did all the graffiti on the walls 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.
5) Was there ever a wall 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.
6) Why is there an empty space between the Shops Building and the New Commissary?
That vacant space was intended for a new guardhouse. The foundation was laid, but the building was never completed. The blockhouse was used as a guardhouse instead.
7) Why do the two buildings on the south side of the Parade Ground have gun slits on the back wall?
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.
8) What was the Blockhouse for?
The Blockhouse was built for defense, but when it proved to be unnecessary, it was converted into the guardhouse, or jail.
9) Where were the stables?
Records indicate that the stables were south of the Old Commissary building.
10) How thick are the walls?
The thickness of the walls vary from 2 to 2 ½ feet.
1) 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.
2) Do you have a list of all the 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 station here.
3) 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.
4) How many officers did a company have?
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.
5) Were there any women 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.
6) Where did the families live?
7) Where did wagon trains stay?
Wagon trains usually camped near the creek, but off the military reservation, which would be approximately two miles away.
1) How high is the flagpole?
The flagpole is 99 feet high. To reach that height, two poles are fastened end to end.
2) How many stars are on the flag?
There are 37 stars on the flag, reflecting the US flag in 1868.
3) Why does the flagpole look like ship's mast?
A ship's mast is designed to withstand high winds. It wasn't so much a stylistic choice as it was a solution to an engineering problem.
4) Is that the original flagpole?
No. The original flagpole was struck by lightning and burned in 1877.
5) How big is the flag?
We fly several sizes of flags. The largest, the garrison flag, is 36 feet long by 20 feet high. Our medium flag is 20 feet long by 10 feet high, and the smallest is 10 feet long by 5 feet high.
6) How long do 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.
1) 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. Since it wasn't an original tunnel, it was refilled. The Fort Larned Historical Society with help from some Boy Scouts dug that tunnel in the 1950s. They knew there had been a tunnel somewhere in that area. There is no historical evidence showing that an escape tunnel was ever out here. However, in the summer of 1973 an archaeology crew found a tunnel under the blockhouse. It wasn't used as an escape route, though. Rather, the 20-foot tunnel led to an underground water well.
2) What happened to the big barn that used to be 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.
3) How many years was the fort operated as a ranch?
The fort was used as a ranch for over 80 years, from 1885 – 1966.
4) What family owned the ranch?
The Frizell family owned the fort for 64 years, 1902 – 1966. From 1885 to 1902 it was owned by the Pawnee Valley Stockbreeder's Association.
5) When this was a ranch, where did the ranch owners 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.
Last updated: January 24, 2024