Fort de Cavagnial

 A model of the Fort de Cavagnial represents a small, square, wooden-post fort,
Model of Fort de Cavagnial at the Frontier Army Museum, which is within Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

When struggling with a broken mast on the keelboat, the Lewis and Clark Expedition stopped for four hours to work on a temporary repair. It was in the area of an abandoned Kansa Indian village that had been occupied in the 1740s and 1750s. 

The men camped on the Missouri side of the river, and William Clark noted that on the Kansas side the French had established a small fort known as Fort de Cavagnial (or Cavagnolle). He was informed of this fort by one of the French voyageurs. 

Named after the French governor of Louisiana, the fort was built in 1744 and abandoned in 1764 when France transferred the territory to Spain. It was located just north of present Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and was not a military fort, but rather a stockade to control the trade with the Kansa and Osage Indians and perhaps to promote trade with the Spanish to the southwest.

According to the Frontier Army Museum at Fort Leavenworth, the log structure was 80-feet square, with protective extensions at each corner. Inside the fort was the commandant’s house, the guard house, and a powder and traders’ house. It’s believed the post population totaled about 40 people, consisting of the commandant, about 10 French soldiers, and the traders and their families.

Today, a plaque marks the likely area of the fort site, about three miles northwest of Fort Leavenworth.  It mentions Lewis and Clark visiting the abandoned fort, but nothing is written in the July 2, 1804 journal entries about the Captains crossing the river and actually visiting the remains.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: November 25, 2020