Fort Larned 1859/1878
In 1859 the Army established a small post of dugouts and tents along the Pawne River near the Santa Fe Trail. The post originally was named Camp on Pawnee Fork, but later was called Camp Alert because of the need to be on guard against Indian raids. The post later was moved and renamed Fort Larned. The Fort Larned Reservation was 4 miles square.
The first fort on the present location was built of sod on the outside of the present buildings that are at this location at this time. Troops stationed here escorted mail coaches, protected wagon trains along the trail, and patrolled the region. The fort also served as a base for military campaigns during periods of hostility as trail travelers increasingly encroached on lands already occupied by Plains Indians, decimated the bufflo herds on which they depended, and theratened the Indians' very existence.
Through out much of the 1860s the fort served as an agency of the Indian Bureau as the government attempted to find a peaceful solution to the cultural conflict. With its nine surviving buildings built in the mid 1860s and a reconstructed blockhouse.
Fort Larned was abandoned on October 28, 1878, and the garrison at the fort was removed to Fort Dodge. The section containing the fort was sold in 1884 to Sage and Jackson representing the Pawnee Valley Stock Breeders Association. The bid was was $11,056.
In 1902 E. E. Frizell bought the fort from a man by the name of Johanna Fohler of Illinois. The purchase contained about 3,000 acres. During the early 1900's the ranch along the Pawnee became a favorite picnic ground and barn dances were frequent. The Frizell family erected signs welcoming visitors and the Kansas Historical Society erected a historical marker just north of the ranch on 156 highway.
In 1957, Fort Larned Historical Society was founded for the purpose of developing a tourist attraction at the fort. Fort Larned was opened to the public in 1957. In 1961 the Department of Interior designated the fort as a National Historical Landmark and 1964, it became a National Historical Site under the National Park Service. The Larned Historical Society operated the fort until 1973. They then opened the Santa Fe Trail Center 3 miles east of the fort in 1974.
Fort Larned is one of the best examples of an Indian wars era frontier Army post. The buildings exteriors and parade are fully restored. More than 40 interior rooms are restored and furnished in the historic period style. In its unspoiled setting on a bend of the Pawnee River, the fort survives as an authentic vestige of the past. The National Park Service operates the fort today, it is also a National Historic Site.
Township 22 South of Range 17 West, Pawnee County, Kansas
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.