To step foot into Fort Larned is to step back in time. The massive flag waving from the ten-story wooden pole in the middle of the parade ground has just 37 stars. You can almost feel the dust from the Santa Fe Trail clinging to your skin. Is that a whiff of gunpowder in the air?
In the summer months, “living historians” greet you, dressed in period costume from the 1860s. Your hosts will explain that Fort Larned National Historic Site was a military outpost charged with protecting mail coaches and travelers such as yourself, as you passed through on the Santa Fe Trail.
You’ll learn that the hundreds of troops stationed at Fort Larned over the years included the brave men of the 10th U.S. Cavalry, one of two African-American regiments organized after the Civil War.
Fort Larned was also an Indian Agency, responsible for keeping the peace with Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne who hunted across the Plains.
As you wander the grounds, stop into the Old Commissary, which still looks just as it did back in 1868. Visit the post hospital, the infantry barracks, and the blacksmith’s shop.
In the 1881 Moses Carver House, look for the ash hopper, where Mr. Carver mixed fireplace ashes with water, lye, and animal fat to make soap for his laundry. There are a total of nine original buildings fully restored on the site, including the old arsenal, officer’s quarters, warehouse, and school room.