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

Veterans Day Observance At Fort Larned NHS
      Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced that all entrance fees to national park areas will be waived during Veterans Day week end, November 10, 11 and 12, 2001, allowing Americans to seek solace and inspiration from, the nation's parks, monuments and memorials as they recover from the September 11 attack on America.

      "Our nation's parks, monuments and memorials are an inspiration to the freedoms all Americans cherish." Secretary Norton said. "After the terrorist attacks, many people visited special places such as Fort Larned National Historic Site because they offer hope and inspiration as we heal from the assault on innocent Americans and unify behind our nation's effort to seek solace and find justice."

      "Americans can draw strength from national icons of freedom and peace from the magnificence of nature," National Park Service Director Fran Mainella said. "On Veterans Day weekend, all national parks---and many partners in state and local parks across the country---have waived park entrance fees. Let these treasures serve as reminders of what it means to be an American and that our nation will endure and prosper. Please enjoy and help protect Fort Larned National Historic Site."

      Fort Larned NHS, the most complete and best preserved military post of the Indian Wars Era on the Santa Fe Trail, will also be actively participating in this special observance in ways that contribute to healing the spirit of our nation," said Superintendent Steve Linderer. On November 12 at noon, a salute will be fired from the Fort's Mountain howitzer and the large national flag (37 x 20 feet) will be raised.

      The National Park Service manages 385 areas covering more than 84 million acres. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefield, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

      Fort Larned is located 6 miles west of Larned, Kansas on US Highway 156. More information can be found on the Fort Larned NPS Web Site.

Volunteers Need On Sunday November 18
      During the past year several volunteers removed much trash from the village site, but many limbs and down trees remain. Such wood would have been utilized by the Indians and not left lying around, and we can improve our image by removing more of this debris.

      Volunteers are invited to join in another cleanup day on Sunday, November 18, weather permitting, any time between 9 a.m. and sundown. Additional trucks and chain saws would be helpful. If it rains or snows, this work will be rescheduled in the spring.

Reflections On The '90s
      For this column I want to briefly reflect back on what we accomplished at Fort Larned during the 1990s. This list includes many projects that were strongly influenced either behind the scenes or directly by the Old Guard and its members. The park would not have made this much progress without your support!

      * A new General Management Plan was completed and approved. The plan calls for a new visitor center outside the historic core of the park and restoration of the historic buildings. The center is still a dream, but much of the rest of the plan has been or is being accomplished!

      * The bake oven was reconstructed in the post bakery. We now serve fresh baked bread for many Fort Larned Old Guard special events. The bakery has become one of the Fort's more popular interpretive programs.

      * Furnishings in several buildings were improved, and many rooms are now completely furnished according to the furnishing plans. The barracks is particularly impressive now that it has a full complement of uniforms and firearms lining the walls. The new mess hall cook stove also is used frequently for cooking meals for the living history volunteers.

      * The old commissary was fully restored inside and furnished. This building includes the commissary, office, officer's stores, and the arsenal. During special events you can see soldiers march from the barracks to the commissary to draw rations. They had better have their paperwork in order or the commissary sergeant will send them back to the orderly room get it corrected!

      * The office, bedroom and issue room in the quartermaster storehouse are now restored and furnished. A new interpretive program about the Fort's supply operations is now available. This exhibit will be even more impressive when the warehouse is furnished.

      * A number of major planning documents were completed over the past few years. Although not as much fun as "touchy feeley" projects like building a bake oven, they are critical to continued progress in accurately restoring the Fort to its historic period. These documents include the General Management Plan, Historic Structure Report for Officers' Row, Structural Conditions Report, Cultural Landscape Report, and Historic Furnishings Report. You will be seeing projects based on these plans very soon!

      Besides general support, some of the more notable Fort Larned Old Guard projects include the purchase of the Rucker army ambulance, special events such as Bob Dole Appreciation Day (which brought both senators and our congressman to the park), the annual Fort Larned Old Guard membership meeting and dinners (with excellent educational programs and entertainment), and especially the project to acquire and protect the Indian village on Pawnee Fork.

      What's ahead? As this is being written, a contract is being issued to replace and upgrade the fire and intrusion alarms in the ten historic buildings. A large project to stabilize the old commissary is moving through final planning. A major project to completely restore the north officers' quarters has received a high priority and may be funded within several years. Many other smaller projects are also underway.

      Besides their work at the Fort, the park staff also put much time and effort into planning and opening a new unit of the National Park System, Nicodemus National Historic Site---but that is another story!

      As you plan your Fort visits in the coming months, note that the annual meeting date has been changed to the first Saturday in May to avoid conflict with the popular 3i show.
Steve Linderer, FLNHS Superintendent

      Holiday celebration Once again, Fort Larned invites you to join our staff in a lighthearted old-fashioned celebration of the Christmas season this December. The evening will be filled with our hearty soldiers, and you, singing traditional holiday carols by candlelight. We will be accompanied by our usual old-time band, the "New Old Timers."

      Soldiers' wives and post children, dressed in their finest clothing, will complete the picture of Yuletide on the Plains during these early years. The post hospital will be filled the aromas (and tastes) of hot apple cider and cookies. You can test your party skills by joining in contests of musical chairs and other Victorian parlor games. Rumor has it that even jolly old St. Nick will stop by for a visit.

      This event takes place on Saturday, December 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Entry into Fort Larned that evening is free. A special discount on all books and other items in our visitor center will be offered throughout the day. A classic comedy film will be shown in the visitor center theater throughout the evening.

      As an added bonus, we will have a star watching party with the park telescope. So, come visit us . . . we look forward to exchanging a little Yuletide mirth with you this season. Happy holidays!

Support Is Appreciated
Message From The Chairman
      As we near the end of another busy and exceptional year for Fort Larned NHS and the Old Guard, special thanks are extended to all Fort Larned Old Guard members for their continued support and to the outstanding staff and volunteers at the fort who continue to make history come alive and provide wonderful programs. The October 13 candlelight tour, highlighting the 1867 Hancock Expedition, is the most recent example. Plan now to attend the special Christmas open house on December 8.

      Visitation at Fort Larned NHS, as at historic sites across the region, has been down again this year. Perhaps recent national and international events will change traveling habits of some people, and they will spend more time at local and regional places, enjoying the rich heritage of the area. We all need to spend more time at Fort Larned, recommend it to our friends and neighbors, encourage tourists to include it in their plans, and take children and grandchildren to see this enchanting spot.

      The Archaeological Conservancy has joined the Old Guard in the present ownership of the Indian village on Pawnee Fork. Plans for administering the property, now closed to the public except on special occasions, will be developed during the coming year. Those wishing to assist the Old Guard in another cleanup day at the village site are invited to join in on November 18, weather permitting, as we continue to make this landmark more attractive.

      It is not too early to make plans to attend the next Fort Larned Old Guard annual meeting on May 4, 2002. The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail will handle the morning program again, with a series of informative presentations about the railroads that replaced the Santa Fe Trail. The afternoon will be spent at the village site, with an Indian encampment, buffalo hunters' camp, and special programs. An evening dinner in Larned will be followed by a dramatic performance by historian/actor Louis Kraft portraying Edward W. Wynkoop, soldier and Indian agent closely associated with Fort Larned. This is a program you won't want to miss.

      Best wishes for the holiday season and a better 2002. Be sure to include Fort Larned in your recreational plans for the coming year.
Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned Old Guard chairman

Volunteers: Our Secret To Success
      Volunteers continue to play a valuable role in the success of programs at Fort Larned NHS. In 2001, our volunteers have contributed 286 hours to administrative tasks, 16 to archeological work, 102 to curatorial duties, 668 to maintenance jobs and 4220 to interpretation---for a total of 5292 hours.

      For the first time Fort Larned had an international intern as a volunteer. This venture proved very successful and resulted in the revision and development of our foreign language brochures. About ten percent of our visitors come from foreign countries so this will assist in their appreciation and understanding of Fort Larned's role in history.

      Volunteers helped with all our interpretive programs. The candlelight tour and Santa Fe Trail days had the largest turnout of volunteers, with over 70 assisting at each event. This year a volunteer assisted our maintenance staff with janitorial work in cleaning the visitor center and offices.

      In January a group of volunteers got together and worked on the restoration of the quartermaster building by plastering the walls. This work saved the National Park Service thousands of dollars and allowed the building to be opened to the public over Memorial Day weekend.

      The park had a total of 216 volunteers, from a one-year-old to senior citizens. Included in the group were Native Americans from several tribes, African Americans, Hispanics, as well as Caucasians.

      Volunteers who stay overnight are furnished housing in the barracks, commanding officer's quarters, and two trailer pads in the maintenance area. Volunteers and their activities are included in the park's safety effort and we are pleased to report they suffered no accidents this year.
George Elmore, FLNHS Ranger

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