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Fun times at Fort Larned
Fort Larned host Labor Day event
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A park Ranger dressed as a Civil War soldier climbs onto a covered wagon on Saturday during the Labor Day event at Fort Larned. The fort will also be open on Monday with different events throughout the day. - photo by Russell Edem/Great Bend Tribune

Fort Larned has once again come to life with its Labor Day Weekend Living History events. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 1-3, visitors can experience what is was like to live and work at the fort during its days of operation.

“We are excited about our Labor Day event at the fort,” Chief Ranger George Elmore said. “We wanted to bring the fort to life and show people what it was like living here when the fort was an active post. We have a lot of activities going on throughout the three-day event.” 

Visitors can ride in an old fashioned carriage, play American Indian children’s games and learn how to cook on a wood burning stove. Get a glimpse into the life of a frontier soldier with a rifle and artillery firing demonstration, and a look at their chances for surviving a trip to the post hospital. There is also an ongoing croquet game at the North Officers’ Quarters. 

“We have been holding this event for 30 years,” Elmore said. “We try to bring exciting things for people to see and do. The firing of the canon is one of our more popular demonstrations during the weekend.”

The event started on Saturday, but it’s not to late to get out to the fort and enjoy the day. The fort will open at 8 a.m. with demonstrations starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday and Monday. 

Schedule of events for Sunday and Monday:

10 a.m. – Forge and anvil: blacksmith demonstration

11 a.m. – Cooking on a wood burning stove

1 p.m. – Frontier army weapons: rifle and artillery firing demonstration

2 p.m. – Ailments, treatments and chances: a trip to the post hospital

3 p.m. – American Indian games for the kids

4:30 p.m. – Flag retreat: traditional army flag lowering ceremony

Fort Larned National Historic Site is located 6 miles west of Larned on K-156.

About Fort Larnd

According to, as American society pushed west and disrupted the livelihoods of the American Indian nations on the Southern Plains, conflict was inevitable. Violence, however widespread, was typically small-scale in western Kansas prior to 1867. 

Much of the violence took the form of raiding along the Santa Fe Trail. In response, Fort Larned was established in 1859. Fort Larned, as part of a system of forts, allowed for a permanent military presence on the frontier aimed at converting the land from tribal to U.S. control.

When Capt. Henry Wessells, 2nd Infantry, came to the fort in 1860 to build a set of buildings, he planned to use wood and was disappointed when ordered to use adobe. He thought it would be less durable. By year’s end an officers’ quarters, combination storehouse and barracks, guardhouse, two laundresses’ quarters and a hospital were finished.

Added later were a soldiers’ quarters and a bakery, dug into the river bank; a small adobe meat house; and a three-room picket structure housing blacksmith, carpenter, and saddler shops.

Most of Fort Larned’s buildings were poorly built then and not adequate to withstand the large-scale

Indian war that many high-ranking officers predicted. Funds for construction were finally appropriated in 1866, and the fort’s garrison began an extensive building program. By winter 1868 Wessells’ “shabby vermin-breeding” adobe structures were gone, replaced by nine new stone and timber buildings around the parade ground. These are the buildings you see here today.