LARNED — Fort Larned National Historic Site reopened to visitors Thursday.
Visitors can access public areas and roads immediately while facilities and other public services are brought back online. Fort Larned National Historic Site has been closed since Oct. 1, due to the lapse in Congressional appropriations.
Fort Larned’s Candlelight Tour scheduled Oct. 12 had to be postponed because of the shutdown.
Fort Larned’s last shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6. 1996.
“We are excited and happy to be back at work and welcome visitors to Fort Larned National Historic Site,” said Chief Ranger George Elmore. “Autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy all the fall prairie colors highlighting the sandstone buildings. Come on out and enjoy a walk through the prairie on the 3/4-mile long history/nature trail and enjoy all the beauty fall has to offer.”
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. 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 open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, six miles west of Larned on K-156. For information, call (620) 285-6911 or visit the website www.nps.gov/fols.