Fort Larned is located about 7 miles from Larned, Kansas. It played a significant role in westward expansion including conflicts with the Indians of the region. It was located along the Santa Fe Trail. The fort is administered by the National Park Service and the Visitor's Center is in one of the fort's buildings. The visitors' center has restrooms, a book store, a small museum and there is a brief film you can watch about the fort and the factual reasons it was built and manned. Watching the film first will enhance your understanding of the fort and should watch it before going through the buildings of the fort.
Fort Larned consists of the original fort buildings and is not one of those historical forts that have been rebuilt from old plans. It has no walls around the fort and is a series of stone buildings. The buildings create a central square but do not form a wall as there is open space between the buildings. One can go into all areas with open doors . . . which was a large portion of the buildings. All the rooms viewed have appropriate items in them. It was over 100 degrees when we visited and while only the visitors' center was air conditioned the temperatures were not a distraction, possibly due to the stone buildings. In one building with a dirt floor there was a door in the ground with a cell underneath for problem people. On the surface of the dirt floor were some balls and chains for those that didn't need to be thrown in the "hole." Not nice! All the furnishings in the rooms were interesting. You will have learned some things by going through the fort and have a better idea of what it may have been like for the soldiers who manned the fort over the years. When you go through the fort, notice all the small open places in the stone walls that could be used for firing at an enemy with the troops well protected - it makes the absence of walls seem more sensible. While the fort is out of the main stream travel areas, if you go to Kansas, check it out to see if you can fit it into your schedule. If you are interested in the Westward Expansion, this should be an enjoyable stop for you. We saw water in a vending machine but noticed no food.
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