Best Preserved Frontier Fort in the West Fort Larned Old Guard Newsletter

Lost Newsletter Found
     We would like to thank Mildon & Ida Yeager for this copy of Fort Larned Old Guard Newsletter Vol 02 - No 4 - 1991 that we didn't have in our file. If anyone has any of the older copies we sure would like to have copies of them to complete our file.

Congressional Support Strong
     Support for Fort Larned National Historic Site remains strong in Washington. Senators Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum both have taken action to further protect the Fort and its heritage.

     On an April 19 tour of Fort Larned, Senator Dole expressed his continued interest in the park. In coversations with park staff and Old Guard board members, Dole promised to seek a $4.9 million appropriation to fund a new Fort Larned visitors center. If approved, the funding would be available in FY 1992, based on completion of National Park Service planning. It would include money for site preparation, roads, parking, as well as new exhibits in the visitors center.

     Dole, a long-time supporter of Fort Larned National Historic Site, was instrumental in acquiring funds for the reconstruction of Fort Larned's blockhouse. In FY 1991 he secured funding to plan the new visitors center at the Fort.

     On May 7, Senator Kassebaum introduced legislation that would begin a joint preservation program for Kansas forts, cattle trails and stagecoach roads.

     One of Kassebaum's three bills would order the secretary of interior to study eight frontier forts in Kansas, including Fort Larned, Fort Hays, Fort Dodge and Fort Leavenworth. The National Park Service would then be asked to develop a proposal to preserve the forts, explain their historic links and create a collective program to open those sites not already available to the public.

     In two similar pieces of legislation, the senator is seeking national historic designation for cattle and stagecoach trails in Kansas, as well as the Great Military Road that ran from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, through Fort Scott, Kansas, and on to Fort Jasper, Louisiana.

     "Too often we have preserved fragments of our history without any unifying theme," Kassebaum said. "The result is a disjointed picture of our past, which can be confusing."

     If a study from the Interior Department approves the historic designation, it could be the first step toward moving more Kansas trails and forts into the National Park System. The Santa Fe Trail and Forts Larned and Scott, of course, are already included in the system.

     Senator Kassebaum was the featured speaker at the Old Guard's first annual meeting. She has been a member of the group since 1989.

     The Old Guard is Appreciative for the Support Shown by the Kansas Senators.

Hayden Nominated to Interior Department Post
     Fort Larned may soon have another political friend in Washington. President George Bush has tapped former Kansas governor Mike Hayden for a top job in the Interior Department. Hayden is in line to be assistant secretary of the interior for fish, wildlife and parks. As such, the Kansan would oversee the National Park Service and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U. S. Senate is expected to confirm Hayden's nomination in June.

     Hayden and his family enthusiastically toured Fort Larned during his term as governor and he has been a supporter of National Park Service projects.

Annual Meeting a Success
     The third annual meeting of the Fort Larned Old Guard was held Saturday evening, April 20, 1991. As was the case last year, the affair was a joint meeting with the Kansas Corral of Westerners International.

     After an impressive flag-lowering ceremony on the parade ground, a crowd of over 200 members and guests enjoyed a beef dinner in the quartermaster warehouse. At the business meeting that followed, outgoing Chairman of the Board Joe Snell reviewed the Old Guard's recent accomplishments. Fort Larned National Historic Site Superintendent Steve Linderer then outlined upcoming events at the Fort and led salutes to Chairman Snell for his tireless work in helping organize the Old Guard and guiding it during its formative years. The membership reelected William Y. Chalfant, Albert D. Campbell, Leo E. Oliva and Chuck Smith to two-year terms on the Board of Directors, along with a new board member, Dave Webb.

     At the April 20 meeting of the Board of Directors, Gary M. Thomas was elected chairman, with Bill Chalfant, Steve Coen and Al Campbell reelected vice chairman, secretary and treasurer, respectively. They will hold these offices for one year.

     The evening's entertainment was a delightful tour of the Fort by candlelight. Divided into groups, members and guests visited eight areas around the post, each scene staffed with volunteers in period dress. A total of 47 reenactors, some from as far away as Colorado, recreated a "typical" eveing at Fort Larned in 1868.

     Visitors witnessed a court martial in the schoolhouse, preparations for a gala at the officers quarters, and work in the post hospital. They also saw a blacksmith and his apprentice toiling at the forge, several men from Company C, 3rd Infantry "at ease" in the barracks, and a buffalo soldier and his commander making camp.

     Patterned after the Fort's popular candlelight tours, the program included a new twist --- audience members were invited to interact with the reenactors. As a result, several Old Guard members were nearly arrested for conversing with prisoners in the blockhouse. An Indian agent camped near the post exchanged views with visitors on the Indian "problem." All agreed it was a enjoyable way to tour the Fort.

From the Superintendent's Desk. . .
     In 1987 Congress designated the Santa Fe Trail as a National Historic Trail. Over the next few years the National Park Service developed a Comprehensive Management and Use Plan for the Trail. The plan was approved last May. The Santa Fe National Historic Trail is administered by the Park Service's Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, which is now implementing the management plan. One of the first tasks is the certification of sites along the Trail.

     Existing National Park Service and U. S. Forest Service trail sites were designated Santa Fe National Historic Trail sites upon approval of the plan. Being federally owned, they did not require negotiation of an agreement and already met federal standards.

     The management plan proposes a new visitors center at Fort Larned for increased interpretation of the Santa Fe Trail. The planning process is now underway.

     In April the Santa Fe Trail Center became the first non-federal site certified in Kansas. Fort Larned and the Trail Center have always had a close working relationship (more on that next issue). We jointly sponsor Santa Fe Trail Days, and will soon be jointly operating a travelers' information radio station. If you haven't been to the Trail Center, I recommend you visit it the next time you are in this area. Autograph Rock, Oklahoma, and Boggsville, Colorado, are also currently certified sites. Other certifications are in progress.

     Finally, I would like to acknowledge the excellent service provided to Fort Larned and the Old Guard by outgoing Chairman of the Board Joe Snell. Joe and my predecessor, Jack Arnold, were instrumental in forming the Old Guard. Joe deserves an extra pat on the back for his efforts. He and his wife Ruth plan on doing some long-anticipated traveling.

     Joe left the chairmanship in the capable hands of Gary Thomas. I am looking forward to working with Gary and the other members of the board in the coming year. We very much appreciate the Old Guard members who help advance the cause of historic preservation and interpretation at the Fort.
     Steve Linderer, Fort Larned National Historic Site Superintendent

Travelers' Radio Planned
     Sometime early this summer Fort Larned National Historic Site will begin broadcasting on AM radio at 530 kHz. The low-power radio station will operate 24 hours a day. It will be located in Larned, and is expected to have a range of three or four miles. Although the park requested 1610 kHz, a frequency that would reach slightly farther, it was not available because a nearby commercial radio station broadcasts on 1590 kHz.

     The station is a joint effort of the National Park Service, Santa Fe Trail Center and the City of Larned. It is intended to inform area travelers about Fort Larned, the Trail Center, and the Santa Fe National Historic Site.

     The radio message, which will last a maximum of seven minutes, can be easily changed to provide news about current activities and hours of operation, as well as historical information.

     The park is still looking for ways to inform motorists about the availability of the radio service. An initial request to place signs along local highways was turned down by the highway department. Other options are being considered, but it is hoped highway department officials will change the policy and allow the signs.

Chairman's Message. . .
     As the new chairman of the Old Guard, I have the task of trying to adequately replace a legend. Joe Snell was instrumental in bringing together our group, now almost three years ago, to support Fort Larned. His strengths both as a professional historian and as an administrator were invaluable in the Old Guard's early stages, and he leaves us as a strong organization. Since I can't really replace Joe, I'd like to use this space to summarize where he's left us, and where I think we're going in the next year or so.

     The Old Guard has now grown to over 100 dues-paying members, led by a board of nine, of whom seven were among the "founding fathers (and mothers)" of the organization. Our most recent membership list shows an interesting and diverse group. We have members from Washington and California to Massachusetts and New Jersey, from Wisconsin to Mississippi. Our numbers include a U. S. Senator, Nancy Landon Kassebaum, and the country's leading Indian Wars historian, Don Rickey. In fact, many of our members---professionals and amateurs alike---have written and published on the Fort and its era.

     Joe's tenure also saw the Fort broaden its public appeal. We attracted 231 attendees to our latest annual meeting (our third) in April, and each meeting has been a success.

     The Old Guard is strong financially. Our membership revenues, plus sales of items from cups to commissions, have enabled us to accumulate a surplus.

     The Old Guard has been successful in acquiring the rare Rucker U. S. Army ambulance, with the help of the Jordaan Foundation and Dr. J. J. Marsh. We are also indebted to OK Transfer of Wichita and Fuller Industries of Kansas City for their help in getting the ambulance to the Fort in time for our annual meeting. Those of us who attended were able to see this beautifully restored piece and its addition to the aura of the 1860s at the Fort.

     As a further enhancement to the Fort and its interpretation, funds have now been appropriated to begin the process leading to the construction of a new visitors center. Members of the Old Guard and its board have been instrumental in helping our Congressional representatives see the wisdom of investing in irreplaceable historic resources like Fort Larned.

     So you can see that Joe Snell, one of our first honorary colonels, is leaving the Old Guard in a strong position. We're working on several new projects, such as reprinting The Plains, a newspaper published at the Fort in 1865, and reconstructing the Fort's bake oven. We thank you for your support, and we expect the future to be as productive as our first few years.
     Gary M. Thomas, Chairman of the Board

Between the bookends
     Among the growing list of books for sale in the Fort Larned visitors center are these: Growing Up With the Country, The Indian Tipi, God's Dog and Seventy Years on the Frontier.

     Ignored by the battles and treaties, heroes and villains, cowboys and Indian schools of history, the children of the Old West have long remained in obscurity. Elliot West's Growing Up With the Country brings to light instances of what were very often quite short childhoods---childhoods that were a vital part of the western experience.

     Florello "The Little Flower" La Guardia described the Arizona Territory of his early life as "miles and miles of pleasure." However, the daughter of Old Jules, Mari Sandoz, did not express such fond memories of the land of her girlhood. One gets the impression that Mari might have described northwestern Nebraska as "miles and miles of misery" for just about everyone, children included.

     The revival of the "Western" in the form of Dances With Wolves and Son of the Morning Star may generate some interest in Native American culture. With the help of Blackfeet, Sioux and Crow friends, Reginald and Gladys Laupin have filled 327 pages of The Indian Tipi with a wealth of Plains Indian lore, including tipi manners and cookery, all designed for life in the best tent ever devised.

     Hope Ryden's tribute to the coyote, God's Dog, is a great help in understanding a creature which deserves a place in the Hall of Survivors. Whatever cataclysms sweep across the earth, when the calm returns, Don Coyote is still around, thriving as well as ever. Modern Santa Fe Trail travelers with an interest in the Trail's natural history should enjoy God's Dog.

     About 1890, William F. Cody found an old man down on his luck in a shack on the edge of Denver. The old-timer was Alexander Majors, of Russell, Majors and Waddell freighting fame, a man once described by J. Frank Doble as "the lead steer of all freighters." Majors' descent into poverty and obscurity began on May 10, 1869, the day the Golden Spike connected the country by rail. Cody persuaded Majors to write his memoirs, paid Rand-McNally $750 to publish the manuscript, then sold Seventy Years on the Frontier at performances of his Wild West Show to provide an old man some comforts with which to enjoy his last years.

Coming up at Fort Larned
     July 4 -- "Old Time" Independence Day celebration with games and entertainment of the 1860s

     August 24-25 -- National Parks Day, photo contest, speakers, special displays and programs celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service.

     September 21 -- Candlelight Tour, an entertaining walk depicting an evening at historic Fort Larned.

     October 13 -- Twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Fort Larned National Historic Site, featuring speakers, music and programs on the Fort's history since becoming part of the National Park Service.

     December 14 -- Christmas open house, a yule-tide party featuring soldiers and officers of the old Fort.

     In addition to the above special events, there will be tours of the Fort given daily, Monday through Friday through September 2, with living history demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.




     Notice: If you would prefer to receive OUTPOST as a pdf file via email to save paper and postage, please send a note to the editor at {oliva@ruraltel.net}. You will see color photos in color and may print out the newsletter if you want a hard copy. Thank you.

Membership Reminder
     Annual memberships expire on December 31. If you have not renewed for 2016, please send dues to membership chair Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Additional donations are always welcome to assist with projects of the Old Guard. Thank you for your support.

Calendar
     Feb. 21, 2016: Park Ranger Celeste Dixon program on Buffalo Soldiers: An American Legend on the Western Frontier, 1:00 p.m.

     March 17, 2016: Shadows of the Past at the Fort

     April 30, 2016: Fort Larned Old Guard Annual Mess & Muster

     May 2, 2016: Junior Ranger Day at the Fort

     Sept. 22-24, 2016: Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous

Deadline For Next Issue: May 1, 2016




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