Monday, July 11, 2011

Fort Larned Fourth of July

I had been kind of worried about what we were going to do to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. You see, our area has been so dry that we've been on a burn ban all summer. Most of  the big and small towns cancelled public firework displays and banned personal use of fireworks, especially in rural areas. We decided to visit Fort Larned again and bone up on some of our military history.

Fort Larned is near Larned, KS  was a military from 1859 to 1878. Fort Larned was established to protect traffic along the Santa Fe Trail from hostile American Indians, and as an agency for the administration of the Central Plains Indians by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the terms of the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861. The fort's service ended as a combination of the tribes' relocation to reservations and the completion of railroads across Kansas that ended the need for the Santa Fe Trail.

Of course, it's hard for my kids to grasp the significance of Ft. Larned and its place in history but we have to start learning somewhere don't we? I love it when historical sites get kids interested in history with the laundry. Yahoo loved playing with the washboard and water. (FYI - At Ft. Larned I learned that lye soap is very good for relieving skin irritations such as eczema.)

My monkeys even got along long enough to wring out the wet clothes and hang them to dry. Somehow I doubt they could be so willing to do the same job at home!

And there were demonstrations to listen to.

Like how to shoot a cannon!! Very cool!

As much as I enjoy taking photos when we are out and about at places like this there are many times I just can't because Yahoo just wants held. I don't blame her either. She'd missed her nap and it was 100 degrees and sunny outside. Bless my hubby DR, without him there'd be no photographic evidence that I exist :)

There were so many buildings to visit that I can't share them all with you but one of the most interesting was the blockhouse. The blockhouse was originally built for defense, as you can see the series of rifle holes to shoot attacking Indians. However, the Indians fought in using guerrilla warfare and the blockhouse was fairly obsolete as a place to withstand a siege. Therefore it was converted into the post's prison. 

By the way, God bless these young 'soldiers' who kept answering all of my kids' questions!

Originally a partial tunnel was built with an underground well to withstand a siege. When it was converted to a prison the tunnel was used for solitary confinement. We went down in the dark tunnel and oh! how cool it was! I commented that in the middle of the Kansas summer solitary confinement wouldn't have been too bad. That's what I thought until DR reminded me I'd have had to share that tunnel with rats and other critters! Yeah, I'll stay above ground thank you very much!

We had spent most of the hot day at Fort Larned because we had to wait until the blacksmith showed up. Yip was not leaving until he got to see some pounding being done!

What a wonderful guy too; he made a hook for each of my kids!

Just when I thought we'd get to climb back into our air conditioned car we were roped into some old fashioned games. One of which was egg tossing! Yap, the one in the green hat in back, thought it was awesome that he could do an egg toss with the soldiers.

The guide had at least 3 dozen eggs she just kept handing out. Have you ever tried doing an egg toss with a 2 year old?? Quite interesting, let me tell you!

It was a good thing I was wearing rubber flip flops because my feet pretty gross by the end of the egg toss!!

So, although we didn't get to shoot off fireworks (we did see a cannon fire though) I think reliving our history and seeing soldiers' hardships first hand was a pretty good way to celebrate our nation's independence. There's more to fireworks on the Fourth of July and I'm thankful we got to spend the day at Ft. Larned being reminded of those who fought for our country....even 150 years ago.

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