Fort Larned National Historic Site, established on Aug. 31, 1964, was the first National Park Service site established in Kansas. It’s not the only, though. There are four other National Park Service sites in Kansas, offering a variety of natural and cultural experiences. Besides Fort Larned there is Fort Scott National Historic Site, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Nicodemus National Historic Site, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
Fort Scott National Historic Site was the second NPS site in Kansas established on October 19, 1978. It’s located in Fort Scott on the eastern side of the state, about 100 miles south of Kansas City. The U.S. Army established Fort Scott in 1842 as a base along what was then thought to be the permanent Indian frontier. The story of Fort Scott is the story of America growing up. When the fort was established the nation was still young and confined largely to the area east of the Mississippi River. Yet within a few years, Fort Scott’s soldiers became involved in events that would lead to tremendous spurts of growth and expansion. As the nation developed, tensions over slavery led to the conflict and turmoil of “Bleeding Kansas” and the Civil War. The site’s 20 historic structures, parade ground, and restored tallgrass prairie interpret the opening of the West, the permanent Indian frontier, the Mexican-American War, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War and the expansion of the railroads.
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, located in Topeka was established on October 26, 1992. The site commemorates the May 17, 1954, Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education that ended legal segregation in public schools. It was a landmark decision that opened the way for other legal challenges against segregation and for the Civil Rights Movement. The story of Brown v. Board of Education is one of hope and courage. The plaintiffs in the case had no idea they would change history; they were ordinary people like teachers, secretaries, welders, ministers and students who simply wanted to be treated equally. Brown v. Board is open daily, year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. You can find them on the web at www.nps.gov/brvb.
Nicodemus National Historic Site, established November 12, 1996, is located in Nicodemus a little over 55 miles northwest of Hays. Nicodemus is the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. Formerly enslaved African Americans left Kentucky in organized colonies at the end of the of post-Civil War Reconstruction period to experience freedom in the “promised land” of Kansas. Nicodemus represents the involvement of African Americans in the westward expansion and settlement of the Great Plains. It is the oldest and only remaining Black settlement west of the Mississippi River. The site is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Their website is www.nps.gov/nico.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, established November 12, 1996, is two miles north of the U.S. 50 and K-177 intersection west of Strong City about 130 miles southwest of Kansas City. The preserve protects and interprets a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which at one time covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly in the Kansas Flint Hills. The 10,894 acre preserve includes an 1881 ranch house, limestone barn and outbuildings, and one-room school house. The preserve is open daily, year-round from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. You can visit their website at www.nps.gov/tapr.
In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, Fort Larned National Historic Site invites you to discover the meaning of national parks, how your park inspires you - both in personal connections and memorable experiences. Fort Larned National Historic Site is located six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., information on visiting is on the internet at www.nps.gov/fols, or by calling 620-285-6911. There is no admission fee.
Learn more at www.nps.gov.