After we finished with the Sternberg Museum of Natural History we drove over to the Old Fort Hays. Fort Hays is located near Interstate 70 and is mostly associated with George Armstrong Custer and "Wild Bill" Hickok. Fort Hays was an important U.S. Army post that was active from 1865 until 1889. It was a much larger western fort than Fort Larned because it was near the railroad and served as a supply depot for the military in the West.
We started off in the visitors center where we could touch many Native American artifacts.
These gloves were made from buffalo. The inside of the thumbs were covered in buffalo hair as was the inside back of your hands. These were sooo warm!
Yap enjoyed re enacting his Indian holler!
Today four original buildings survive: the blockhouse , guardhouse (above), and two officers' quarters but in the late 1800's the fort covered over 170 acres with many more buildings. The reason most of Ft. Hays buildings are gone is because they were wooden and moved out of the area to be used as homes or the materials were used for other reasons. Ft. Larned's buildings are all stone which is why that fort has remained intact through the years.
Throughout the Old Fort's location there were signs indicating where other buildings used to stand along with interesting facts about the fort. The fort is supposedly haunted by the "Blue Lady" Elizabeth Polly who was a cholera victim in 1867. We didn't see her, unfortunately...I always thought it would be interesting to see a ghost.
Inside the guardhouse the boys got to try on the heavy wool uniforms of the Union soldiers.
They refused to smile; they didn't think real soldiers would have smiled for a picture!
The guardhouse was also the jail for soldiers arrested for all sorts of offences. Yahoo kept hollering, "Lock me in!" and insisting that we shut the door on her!
We didn't spend too much time at the fort, not nearly as much time as I would have liked. I would have loved to spend a lot more time in the blockhouse, as it was I didn't even get any photos of it. The kids were tired from the long trip and were getting hungry but I'm glad that we were able to take them to Fort Hays regardless. My dad always says that it even though kids don't look at every single exhibit or read every single sign that they ARE LEARNING SOMETHING. It may take years for all those little memories, facts, and experiences to mesh together into understanding.
Without me knowing it these little day trips make an impact on my kids and I truly believe they'll be better for it.