"Life on the Frontier" Virtual Resource Center

A park ranger stands at the entrance to Fort Scott as students and teachers arrive for educational programs
Students arrive at Fort Scott to experience Life on the Frontier

NPS/Wiley Aker

Share the experience of life on the frontier

The staff at Fort Scott developed the virtual resource center in the spring of 2000 as a research aid to high school students who present programs to elementary students in grades K-4 during our "Life on the Frontier" program. The individual programs, or stations, convey various aspects of life at Fort Scott during the 1840s.

Teachers of all grades are encouraged to visit the virtual resource center prior to attending onsite programs. You'll find a vast amount of information about the fort, the people who lived here, and 1840s life on the American frontier and beyond.

These resources were developed using books and articles in the library at Fort Scott NHS. While developed with high school students in mind, learners of all ages will find valuable information.

An interpreter in period dress gives a lesson to schoolchildren at a station as part of the Life on the Frontier program as a uniformed ranger watches.
An interpreter leads educational programming at a Life on the Frontier station.

NPS/Wiley Aker

Preparing your station

Participating students move through a series of stations highlighting different aspects of life on the frontier. Each station has it's own series of pages which includes detailed information and a variety of multimedia which will help in program development.

Find inspiration for your station with our
collection of education program videos.

You might also find the free training course on Foundations of Interpretation useful. Visit provalenslearning.com, sign up for an account and load the course in your cart.


At minimum each station has the following pages:

  1. Overview: This page includes a short introduction to the station and a brief description of the area where the program will be held.
  2. Program Outline: The heart of the program, this section addresses the tangible resources, and intangible and universal concepts an interpretor uses to achieve the program's educational goals, and provides sample activities for each station.

  3. Tools of the Trade: This is a list of props and clothing available for use or reference at each station during the program.

  4. Regulations: Specific rules and regulations related to your station that soldiers and civilians followed, taken from the 1847 Army General Regulations.

  5. Historical Background: Several pages of historical information related to each station



  • An interpreter dressed as a 19th century U.S. Dragoon standing in front of horse.
    Dragoon Soldier

    U.S. Army Dragoons were trained to fight on both foot and horseback. Learn about their training, equipment, and day-to-day life.

  • An interpreter in 1840s US infantry dress holding a period long rifle
    Infantry Soldier

    The backbone of any army, the infantry "held down" the fort and completed fatigue duties while mounted soldiers were out on the trail.

  • A girl in 19th Century dress launders clothes in a wooden bucket

    The only role for women officially recognized by the Army, laundresses often earned higher wages than enlisted soldiers.

  • A woman in period dress holding a parasol stands in front of stairs to the officer's quarters
    Officer's Quarters

    Well appointed officer's quarters were the prime real estate of any fort.

  • A man in US dragoon dress stands with a tacked horse

    The stables kept the horses safe, healthy, and ready for campaign and combat.

  • A man in soldier's dress slumps in the corner of a guardhouse cell

    Guards on duty patrolled the perimeter of the fort and watched over enlisted men held in the prison for various offenses.

  • Two men in period dress rest on cots in the post hospital

    At a time before the germ theory of disease was widely accepted, you may have done better to stay out of the hospital!

  • A baker in period dress addresses a group of children in front of the bakehouse oven.

    Bread was the staple food of a soldier's diet and the bakehouse was an essential part of all permanent army posts.

  • The sutler stands in front of building wearing a straw hat and colorful vest over a white shirt.

    More than simply a merchant selling wares at the fort, the sutler was also the local postmaster, barkeep, and news seller.

  • Uniformed quartermaster stands at a desk writing with a quill pen

    The quartermaster department was responsible for construction, maintenance, and supply of all the army forts and military roads

  • A group of artillery soldiers stand at a cannon preparing to fire

    The six-pounder light artillery stationed at Fort Scott was used only for ceremonial purposes.

  • A line of soldiers takes aim with period rifles

    Learn about the operation, handling, and care of weapons and ammunition.

  • A cooking fire burns in a fire ring on the lawn at Fort Scott

    Each barrack had it's own kitchen and mess hall. Soldiers on fatigue duty cooked here in an open fireplace.

  • A man in civilian dress cuts a wood beam with an axe

    On the frontier construction was difficult, builders contended with a lack of materials and skilled artisans.

  • A young girl in period dress holds a rag doll under an awning at Fort Scott
    Children's Activities

    At remote frontier forts, schooling could be hard to come by. Oftentimes a post chaplain would play the rule of schoolmaster.

  • Three men in civilian dress play a fiddle, banjo, and guitar in a building at Fort Scott
    Leisure Activities

    Far from a luxury, leisure played an important role in maintaining morale, developing camaraderie, and allaying the tedium of frontier life.


Last updated: May 31, 2022

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 918
Fort Scott, KS 66701


620 223-0310

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