Post Construction - Program Outline

Hewing Log

Title: Building the Crack Post of the Frontier

Type of Program: Education Program

Venue: Officers' Quarters #2, Wilson-Goodlander House

Audience: Elementary Students

Tangible Resources: Natural Resources, Buildings, Soldiers, Building Elements

Intangible Concepts:

  • Labor - The work on the buildings was performed by and large by the enlisted men. Many of the enlisted men were unskilled, however. They could do the manual labor, but required supervision by skilled workers, so Captain Swords ended up hiring civilians to perform some of the skilled functions such as carpentry, masonry, and specialized functions such as turners (mill work), glaziers (glass work), and plasterers.
  • Sturdiness - Materials used for construction at Fort Scott were those that were available locally. Walnut, oak, ash, and hickory were the trees that were available. Each had their advantages. All were hardwoods which meant they would be more durable. Walnut was especially durable and polished well. Of the other three, oak was the most resistant to decay. The quality of the wood helped assure that this would be a permanent post. Limestone avaialable in the area is also a popular building material. It too is durable except when exposed to acidic substances. Several of the construction features, nogging, frame construction, and firewalls, also contributed to the sturdiness ofthe buidings.
  • Design-health-elegance - The designer of the Fort used several different architectural styles. Georgian floor plans called for square buildings with two chimneys, rooms divided by a large hallway. French Colonial variations can be seen in the porches, wide stairways, and high ceiling. Greek Revival elements can be seen in the columns which give it and ornate look. The design brought some elegance to the post, a taste of culture of the east. It also was designed with the health of the soldiers in mind. Wide porches, high ceilings, and second floor living quarters were based on the premise that the higher up in the air you were the better your health was. Swords was responsible for the design of the fort and lamented he was left entirely to his own resources.
  • Accountability-Cost - One of the key factors that affected the construction was the financing available. The Army was constantly telling Swords to keep the costs down. Also every expenditure had to be tracked and there was a form for everything. Periodically, the Army sent out inspectors to make sure everything was up to par.

Universal Concept:

Permanence-Endurance-Everything that went into the design of the fort helped to assure that these would be permanent structures. The materials, construction elements, and styles all contributed to the durability of the buildings.

Theme: The work and the care that the army took in building the structures of the fort assured their survival so that many stand today as permanent sentinels of a significant era of our nation's history.


  • To show the methods used to build the fort.
  • To demonstrate that the work put into building the fort reflected the desire to create a permanent post, the Crack Post of the Frontier.

Objectives: After participating in this program, the students will be able to:

  • Name one architectural style used at the fort
  • Describe the use of at least two tools.
  • Name at least one problem encountered during construction.
  • Point out at least one construction method used at the fort.

Suggested Activities:

  • Take children through Wilson-Goodlander Home, describe various construction elements and have the children see if they can find an example of what the presenter is talking about.
  • Demonstrate the use of the various tools used in construction.

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Last updated: July 30, 2016

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Fort Scott, KS 66701


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