Near the border of Kansas and Missouri sits Fort Scott, which like Fort Smith (to the south) was an important frontier military post during the Mexican-American War and skirmishes with Plains Indians. Several buildings were sold off in 1853, two becoming hotels that catered to pro-slavery and anti-slavery clients when this region was dubbed “Bleeding Kansas.” During the Civil War, the town became a strategic location utilized to quell uprisings and maintain supply lines. Abandoned by the military after the war, soldiers returned when settlers opposed railroad construction in the 1870s. This 17-acre historic site was authorized in 1965 but not established as a part of the National Park Service (NPS) system until 1979.
Museum, film, Officers’ Quarters, restored tallgrass prairie
The NPS visitor center is located in the old hospital at Fort Scott National Historic Site. There are 11 original structures here and you can walk through the well-maintained Officers’ Quarters, bake house, and carriage house. Posted here 1842-1853 were flamboyantly-uniformed dragoons, who were elite fighters on foot or horseback. Dragoons knew they were only as effective as their horses, so they took good care of them. In fact, the horse stables remain the largest building at Fort Scott on the edge of the beautifully-landscaped parade ground.
The site may be small and surrounded by roads and development, but it does maintain five acres of restored tallgrass prairie (utilizing controlled burning) with a short nature trail.
The site is especially pretty in November, when the maple leaves turn red and orange in sharp contrast to the white buildings.
All roads paved
There is a city-operated campground about two miles from the fort, as well as several state parks in the region.
Fort Smith National Historic Site (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Fort Larned National Historic Site (Kansas)
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas)
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