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To preserve, protect, interpret and administer the resources of Fort Larned for the public as a National Historic Site. Fort Larned was established by Public Law 88-541 for the purpose "to commemorate the significate role played by Fort Larned in opening of the west." Fort Larned has retained much of its historic setting and has authentic resources with which to interpret the history and cultures associtated with Fort Larned and the Santa Fe Trail corridor in the late 19th century.
Fort Larned was a lonely outpost on the vast Kansas prairie which provided protection for mail coaches and freight caravans on the Santa Fe Trail during the turbulent period known as the "Indian Wars". The Fort was home to both infantry and cavalry units, including a troop of African-American soldiers known as "Buffalo Soldiers". Many famous people came to the Fort during its heyday, including General George Custer, Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson and Indian Chiefs Black Kettle, Satanta and Yellow Bear. While most forts from that time were torn down or have deteriorated over the years, Fort Larned survives largely intact due to its sandstone construction. Visitors to the Fort today are delighted to find one of the most complete and authentic forts remaining from the 1860s and 1870s. Nine original buildings, most beautifully restored inside and out, surround the parade ground and await your exploration. Rangers are on duty daily in the park visitor center, which includes a museum, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore. Staff and volunteers recreate the "Old West" with living history programs on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays during the summer, and occasionally at other times of the year (contact the park for a schedule). Other park features include a picnic area with shaded tables, visible Santa Fe Trail Ruts which cross an active prairie dog town and a nature/history trail. Fort Larned is located six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. It is open all year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Contact the park at (620) 285-6911 or visit our Website at www.nps.gov/fols.
- George Elmore
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