Approximately 26,000 visitors come to Fort Scott National Historic Site each year. Representing a military fort of the 1840s, much of Fort Scott's story focuses on the role of the U.S. Army on the frontier, The site interprets the 1840s era with interpretive exhibits, period furnishings, and living history programs that include soldiers drilling on horseback and artillery demonstrations.
The site preserves 20 historic structures, eleven of which are original buildings, the others are reconstructions built on the original foundations. The site is furnished to the 1840s era, but the story told here encompasses three decades of American history. From 1842-53, it was a military fort established to protect the Permanent Indian Frontier; soldiers kept peace between white settlers and American Indian tribes, patrolled overland trails and fought in the Mexican-American War. The fort was closed in 1853 as the frontier spread further westward. Two years later, the buildings were sold at auction and the fort became a town. The town was involved in the Bleeding Kansas era from 1854-61 when Kansans fought each other over the issue of slavery. There were episodes of violence and intrigue on the grounds of Fort Scott NHS during that era. During the Civil War, the United States Army returned to Fort Scott and established a military base that included many of the former fort buildings. Civil War Fort Scott functioned as a Union supply base, hospital complex, training ground and recruitment center
The site is open daily for self guided tours through the buildings and grounds. Visitors enter through the visitor center where they are oriented to the site, given safety information and provided with a park brochure. A twenty three minute movie, in the theater, provides an introduction to the site's history, while a series of exterior and interior exhibits help guide the visitor through the site and tell its stories. A cell phone tour of the site provides a one minute narration of each of the buildings that are open to the public.
Last updated: March 19, 2021