Fort Scott National Historic Site

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OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Fort Scott National Historic Site's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that is available to visitors. The brochure is 8 ¼ inches by almost 4 inches, when the eight panels are folded up. When unfolded, the brochure is 8 ¼ inches by 31 inches in horizontal format. It explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit.

This audio version lasts about 40 minutes, and is divided into 16 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections three through nine cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the four different historical periods of the fort, as well as a timeline highlighting important events throughout these periods, which runs along the bottom of the front side. Sections 10 through 16 cover the back of the brochure which has an illustrated map of what the park looks like today.

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OVERVIEW: Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site, located in southeast Kansas, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 17-acre park is situated in downtown Fort Scott and was established in 1978. Approximately 26,000 visitors come to Fort Scott National Historic Site each year. Representing a military fort from the 1840s, much of Fort Scott's story focuses on the role of the U.S. Army on the frontier. The site tells this story with interpretive exhibits, period furnishings, and living history programs.

The site preserves 20 historic structures, eleven original buildings and nine reconstructions built on the original foundations. The site depicts fort life during the 1840s, but the story told here encompasses three decades of American history. From 1842 to 1853, it was a military fort established to protect the Permanent Indian Frontier. Soldiers kept peace between white settlers and American Indian tribes, patrolled overland trails and fought in the Mexican-American War. The fort was closed in 1853 as the frontier spread further westward. Two years later, the buildings were sold at auction and the fort became a town.

During the Bleeding Kansas era, from 1854 to 1861, Kansans fought each other over the issue of slavery, and there were episodes of violence and intrigue on the grounds of the park. During the Civil War, the United States Army returned to Fort Scott and established a military base that included many of the former fort buildings. The fort functioned as a Union supply base, hospital complex, training ground and recruitment center. After the war, in 1869, as railroad lines were being built across the country, the U.S. Army established the Post of Southeast Kansas to protect the railroad workers in the area. In 1873, they left for the last time.

The site is open daily for self-guided tours through the buildings. Visitors should start in the Visitor Center, where they can find a park brochure with information about site orientation and safety. A twenty-three minute movie provides an introduction to the site's history, while a series of exterior and interior exhibits help guide the visitor through the site.

To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The front side of the brochure has a black vertical band on the far left side which says: Fort Scott National Historic Site, Kansas, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and has an image of the NPS arrowhead logo. This side of the brochure focuses on the different historical periods of the fort, consisting of the Permanent Indian Frontier, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, and Railroad Expansion. There are a multitude of photographs and illustrations in each section to enhance the text. A timeline, beginning in 1800 and ending in 1880, runs along the bottom of the front side.

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IMAGE and TEXT: The Story of Fort Scott

DESCRIPTION: Text along vertical edge of brochure, in a black bar, reads Fort Scott National Historic Site, Kansas, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior. The NPS Arrowhead logo is on the far right side of the black bar. 

An image of two white 19th Century buildings of Greek revival style stand side-by-side. From the ground level, square stone pillars support a second-floor covered porch that runs the length of each building. Stairs on both ends lead to the second level where there's four windows with green shutters and seven white columns that support the roof. A large walnut door is on the far right side of the porch. The roof of another building, the Post Headquarters, rises in the distance surrounded by a bright blue Kansas sky.

CREDIT: Gary A. Palmer/Captured Images, Inc.

The Story of Fort Scott is the story of America growing up. When the fort was established in 1842, the nation was still young and confined largely to the area east of the Mississippi River. Yet within a few years, Fort Scott’s soldiers became involved in events that would lead to tremendous spurts of growth and expansion. As the nation developed, tensions over slavery led to the conflict and turmoil of “Bleeding Kansas” and the Civil War. Fort Scott’s story takes you through these years of crisis and beyond to the time when the United States emerged as a united, transcontinental nation.

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TIMELINE: Fort Scott

Timeline from 1800-1880. Events listed between timeframes. 

1800 :

• Louisiana Purchase

• Lewis and Clark Expedition

1810 :

1820 :

• Missouri Compromise

• 1st Wagon Use of Santa Fe Trail

• Bureau of Indian Affairs Established

1830 :

• Indian Removal Act

Eastern Tribes Relocated (approximately 1831 to approximately 1846)

1840 :

• John L. O’Sullivan Articulates Manifest Destiny

• Frontier Military Road Authorized

• 1st Use of Oregon Trail by Emigrant Wagon Train

• Fort Scott Established

U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848)

1850 :

• Fort Scott Closed

• Military Sells Fort Buildings Town Begins

Bleeding Kansas (approximately 1855 to approximately 1861)

1860 :

• Lincoln Elected President

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

• Kansas Becomes 34th State

• Fort Scott Re-Established

• 1st Kansas Colored Infantry

• Fort Scott Closed

Reconstruction (approximately 1866 to approximately 1874)

1870 :

• 1st Transcontinental Railway

• Post of Southeast Kansas Established

• Post of Southeast Kansas Closed

1880 :

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IMAGES and TEXT: A Permanent Indian Frontier

IMAGE 1 of 6: Three American Indians

DESCRIPTION: Rendered painting of three young Native American men standing together with a neutral white background. The man on the left, who looks off to his left side, is dressed in buckskin suit with boots to his knees and a long sleeve shirt. He wears a leather headdress that wraps around his head and that has several feathers sticking out of it. The other two men, both in buckskin pants and boots, are shirtless. The man on the right holds a bow and arrow in either hand, while the man in the middle stares straight ahead holding a wooden spear with leather straps on the end.  The man in the middle has a feather rising over his head from a leather headband and long feathered ear rings on both ears, while the man on the right has his hair in a bun with one single braid falling to his right shoulder. 

CREDIT: Smithsonian American Art Museum

IMAGE 2 of 6: Osage chief

DESCRIPTION: Black and white portrait photograph showing the left profile of Osage Chief La Soldat Du Chene, taken from the chest up before an imageless background. He gazes into the distance. The front of his head is bald with the back cropped into a short mohawk that trails to a long braid of hair which falls to his shoulders. A small feathered ear ring hangs over his formal European style 19th century jacket with wide lapel and large buttons. A thin tie is fashioned into a bow beneath the high collar of his white shirt that wraps around his neck from ear to ear.

CAPTION: La Soldat du Chene,  an Osage chief.

CREDIT: National Archives

IMAGE 3 of 6: Two American Indians 

DESCRIPTION: Black and white sketch drawing of two young Native American men standing together. The two men, both in buckskin pants and boots, are shirtless, with decorative paint stripes covering their torsos. The man on the right holds a bow and arrow in either hand, while the man in the middle stares straight ahead holding a wooden spear with leather straps on the end. The man on the left has a feather rising over his head from a leather headband and long feathered ear rings on both ears, while the man on the right has his hair in a bun with one single braid falling to his right shoulder.

CREDIT: Smithsonian Institution

IMAGE 4 of 6: Hiero T. Wilson

DESCRIPTION: Oval shaped black and white portrait of Hiero Wilson, a broad chinned middle-aged man dressed formally in a black suit with vest and white collared shirt adorned with thin bow tie. He has a receding hairline parted to one side. His expression is serious, casting his gaze off to his right.

CAPTION: Hiero T. Wilson, longtime fort sutler (storekeeper) and  one of the founders and leaders of the town of Fort Scott.

CREDIT: Kansas State Historical Society

IMAGE 5 of 6: Painting

DESCRIPTION: Artist's rendering of a family of displaced Native American women with children. They stand in front of two makeshift structures, each one with a camp fire burning in front. They are dressed in robes, some wrapped in blue and white blankets. An infant is held closely to one of the women in a papoose. On one side stand two willow trees with long leafy limbs, while a bare trunk stands on the other side. Rolling grasslands span off into the horizon.  

CAPTION: Swiss artist Karl Bodmer painted this family of displaced  Indians in 1833.

CREDIT: Joslyn Art Museum

IMAGE 6 of 6: Dragoon officer

DESCRIPTION: Image of a light skinned soldier standing tall in military dress attire. His uniform consists of sky blue pants and a navy double breasted jacket with two rows of shiny brass buttons on each side of the coat. Around his waist is a belt with a large shiny brass buckle and an orange sash with tassels that fall to his knee. The coat has golden cuffs, tasseled epaulettes on either side of his high, golden collar, and a chain rope that loops from one shoulder under the arm. His hand rests on his saber, securely put away in a sheath that drops to the side of his square toed boots. Atop his mustached face is an ornate cylindrical hat secured by a strap under the chin. It has a silver eagle affixed over a small brim and a white plume that rises and falls like a horse’s tail.   

CAPTION: Dragoon officer

CREDIT: NPS/Don Troiani

As a young America grew, settlers hungry for land forced American Indians west of the Mississippi. When they arrived in this area, tribes were guaranteed land where white settlement would be forbidden. Established in 1842, Fort Scott served as one of a line of forts from Minnesota to Louisiana that helped to enforce this promise of a “permanent Indian frontier.” Soldiers kept peace between white settlers, native peoples like the Osage, and relocated Eastern tribes.

Positioned on a bluff surrounded by prairie and rolling hills, Fort Scott (named for Gen. Winfield Scott) filled a gap between Fort Leavenworth to the north and Fort Gibson, 150 miles south. The fort was home to infantry soldiers and dragoons, elite troops trained to fight both on horseback and on foot. The infantry performed many of the fatigue duties, including fort maintenance, while the dragoons went on numerous expeditions.

In the 1840s, settlers flocked westward to Oregon and California. Conflict arose along the Santa Fe and Oregon trails: dragoons were called on to keep the peace. Two expeditions rode escort on the Santa Fe Trail in 1843. In 1844 and 1845, dragoons parleyed with Indian tribes that threatened settlers along the Oregon Trail. They also patrolled the Oregon Trail as far west as South Pass.

Both infantry and dragoons left Fort Scott to fight in the Mexican-American War (1846–48), which brought vast new lands into U.S. possession. Some Fort Scott dragoons served in New Mexico and California, while others fought at Buena Vista. Infantry soldiers from Fort Scott participated in Winfield Scott’s overland march to Mexico City.

Westward expansion in the 1840s nearly doubled the country’s size and fulfilled “Manifest Destiny”—the idea that it was America’s divine right to stretch from coast to coast. As the frontier extended farther westward, the idea of a “permanent” Indian territory died a quick death and the army abandoned Fort Scott in 1853. However, violent events in the region would soon bring soldiers back as the nation experienced growing pains over the issue of slavery.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Bleeding Kansas

IMAGE 1 of 3: Mural

DESCRIPTION: Mural depicting a larger-than-life wild-eyed, bearded John Brown in the center holding an open book with a Greek letter alpha on one page and a Greek letter omega on the other page in his left hand, and a rifle in his right hand. On his left, there's a group of Confederate soldiers and enslaved people, all waist-high to him. The soldiers are aiming their weapons, and a Confederate flag is flying behind them. On his right, there's a group of Union soldiers, also waist-high to the central figure, with an American flag flying behind them. Iconic images of Kansas are depicted in the background, consisting of a wagon train, a tornado and a prairie fire on the horizon.  

CAPTION: John Steuart Curry’s mural “Tragic Prelude” made John Brown  the symbolic central figure in the clash of forces in Bleeding Kansas

CREDIT: Kansas State Historical Society

IMAGE 2 of 3: People riding horses

DESCRIPTION: A portion of a painting showing two men on horseback, one following the other in a gallop, and both brandishing pistols in the air with their right hands. The horseman in the back is shouting something. Both men look unkempt and ragged with serious, intent expressions. There are bedrolls on the fronts of their saddles along with other supplies.

CAPTION: Detail from “Guerrillas” by Andy Thomas.

CREDIT: Andy Thomas/Maze Creek Studio

IMAGE 3 of 3: James Montgomery

DESCRIPTION: Portrait photograph in black and white of James Montgomery's head and shoulders. He is a middle-aged white man wearing a jacket with dark lapels which is open to show a white shirt collar underneath with a full head of thick, dark, wavy hair to his ears. He has an unkempt full beard and matching mustache, and his eyebrows are very thick and dark. He is gazing blankly off to his left.

CAPTION: James Montgomery

CREDIT: Kansas State Historical Society

Slavery divided the nation during its turbulent adolescent years. Conflict arose over whether to allow slavery in the new western territories. Under the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), Congress created Kansas and Nebraska territories, opening these lands for settlement. It declared that the residents of these territories could decide by popular vote whether their state would be free or slave. In Kansas, people on both sides of this controversial issue flooded in, trying to influence the vote in their favor.

Three distinct political groups occupied Kansas—proslavers, free-staters, and abolitionists. Proslavery advocates, as the name implies, supported slavery, regardless of whether they personally owned slaves. Abolitionists wanted to rid the nation of the “peculiar institution” altogether. Free-staters didn’t particularly care about slavery where it already existed, but were opposed to its extension westward. Conflict between these opposing factions soon turned violent. As a result, this era became forever known as “Bleeding Kansas,” an era when violence, destruction, and psychological warfare prevailed in the region.

Fort Scott and the surrounding area were not immune from the turmoil. Sold at auction in 1855, the fort buildings became the new town of Fort Scott. The townspeople were primarily proslavery, while free-staters and abolitionists dominated the surrounding countryside. This division of opposing factions was illustrated on the grounds of the “old fort” by the existence of two hotels. One, a former officers’ quarters, became the Fort Scott Hotel, nicknamed the “Free State” Hotel due to the political leanings of many of its guests. Directly across the square, an infantry barracks was now the Western Hotel, a headquarters for proslavery men.

By 1858, radical elements from both factions converged on the area. James Montgomery, an ardent abolitionist, became a leader of free-state forces that invaded Fort Scott, a haven for Border Ruffians (extreme proslavery men). During one raid, Montgomery tried to burn the Western Hotel; another raid took the life of John Little, a former deputy marshal.

During this era, soldiers returned periodically to Fort Scott to restore law and order, staying each time until violence abated, only to have conflict resume on their departure. By the time the territorial strife waned in 1859, nearly 60 people had died and hundreds were terrorized throughout Kansas in the struggle over slavery. Antislavery forces finally prevailed. Kansas entered the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861, but by then the fighting and violence, once contained to this area, threatened to engulf the entire country.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Civil War

IMAGE 1 of 3: Indian recruits

DESCRIPTION: Vertical black and white photograph of four men. In the foreground seated facing left is one light skinned male writing in a book. The two Indian recruits, facing forward, are standing behind the seated man holding up their left hands. To their right is a light skinned male holding up a paper in his left hand. The Indian recruits are wearing buckskin jackets and the other two men are wearing 19th Century frontier attire. 

CAPTION: Indian recruits being sworn in for Civil War duty.

CREDIT: Wisconsin Historical Society 

IMAGE 2 of 3: Fort Scott Soldier

DESCRIPTION: Oval color painting of a black Union Civil War soldier with a muted multi-colored background. His face is viewed in side profile and turned to his left. He has a stern focused gaze, neatly trimmed mustache, and short closely cropped black hair behind his ear. His shoulders and chest are turned toward the left and he is wearing a blue billed cloth cap that is wrinkled at the top. The band above the bill has gold ends. He is wearing a blue Union uniform jacket buttoned to the top with a white shirt collar visible underneath. There are two straps crossing his chest. Over his right shoulder is a wider dark strap with a gold medallion and over his left is a thinner white strap.

CAPTION: A 1st Kansas volunteer is depicted here in Dean Mitchell’s painting,  “Fort Scott Soldier.” 

CREDIT: Dean Mitchell

IMAGE 3 of 3: Battle of Mine Creek

DESCRIPTION: Color painting of a Civil War cavalry battle. In the foreground, chaotic close quarters cavalry fighting between Union and Confederate soldiers. Some men have sabers drawn, some are using small arms, some are fending off blows, and some horses and riders are down. On the back left edge of the fighting is a line of artillery that is actively firing with flames visible. There is a smoky haze across the battlefield. In the distance out on the plains is a long line of Union troops.

CAPTION: Confederate General Sterling Price’s 1864 defeat at the Battle of Mine Creek forced him to abandon plans to attack Fort Scott.

CREDIT: Andy Thomas/Maze Creek Studio

The struggles of an adolescent America became a full-fledged rebellion in 1861 as the issues of slavery and self-determination drove the nation apart. The war brought the U.S. Army back to Fort Scott. Union commanders viewed the town as a strategic point in southeast Kansas to establish a base of military operations, where the army could protect Kansas against a possible Confederate invasion. Troops reoccupied many of the old fort buildings, including the stables and hospital, and began constructing a variety of new buildings and over 40 miles of fortifications.

Fort Scott served as a major supply depot for Union armies in the West, a general hospital for soldiers in the region, and a haven for people fleeing the war—displaced Indians, escaped slaves, and white farmers. Many of these refugees joined the Union Army, greatly diversifying its ranks. American Indian and African American regiments were recruited in the area, including the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry. Sworn in on the grounds of Fort Scott, this was one of the first African American regiments to engage the Confederates in combat.

Fort Scott’s military stores made it a target of Confederate General Sterling Price, who made two unsuccessful attempts to capture it during the war. Guerilla warfare, which plagued the region, also threatened the town. Intense fighting on the Kansas-Missouri border between pro-Union Jayhawkers and pro-Confederate Bushwhackers kept the military occupied. The Union presence likely spared Fort Scott the pillaging and destruction suffered by other towns.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Railroad Expansion

DESCRIPTION: An image of a 19th century locomotive pulling into the station. The wooden cow catcher fans out in front of the steam engine as smoke trails behind the tall stove top stack that rises above the large steel cylindrical boiler of the train. On the front of the engine is a kerosene headlight, and a large bell rests on top. Hanging off one side of the wooden cab on the rear of the locomotive is the train’s fireman, dressed in dark pants, a white long sleeve shirt and a cap. Behind him the train pulls the tinder car, which carries the fuel for the train. Off to the side stands a man in front of stacks of luggage, his own arms supporting a suitcase over his shoulders. On the side of the frame stands a woman, in a long dress with a hat and a hand on her purse.

CREDIT: Library of Congress

After the Civil War ended in 1865, the nation began to heal and to unify. Railroads built across the continent played a major role in tying the country together. Fort Scott’s town leaders saw a railroad line as a means to build prosperity by tapping into the trade of Eastern markets. By 1869, their efforts succeeded as the first railroad reached the city. As workers laid tracks south of town, they came into conflict with squatters who forcefully opposed the railroad. The military returned and established the Post of Southeast Kansas (1869–73) to protect the railroad workers. This set the stage for a rare instance when U.S. troops took up arms against American citizens to protect the country’s business interests.

From 1842 to 1873, Fort Scott played a significant role in events that helped transform the United States from a young divided republic through the growing pains of conflict and war into maturity as a united and powerful transcontinental nation.

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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The back side of the brochure is comprised of text, a map, and four black and white historic photographs. The map encompasses the majority of this side and is an artist’s rendering of a bird’s-eye view of the historic area of the park.

A text panel featuring two historic photographs is on either side of the map. In addition to the map and photo descriptions, the text sections provide many descriptive details about what the area and buildings look like, as well as contact information for the park. 

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IMAGES and TEXT: Life at a Frontier Outpost

IMAGE 1 of 3: Officers’ Row

DESCRIPTION: Black and white photograph showing all four Officers' Quarters. The white buildings with shingled roofs stand in a row to the left along a dirt road. On the right side of the road is a wooden fence surrounding an open field, what once was the parade grounds. The buildings are two and a half stories tall with a porch that runs along the second floor. The porch has a white fence railing and tall white wooden columns that support the gabled roof over the porch. Broad exterior staircases rise to the porch on either end of the building and a white picket fence is present between the staircases on the first level. Trees line the path along the fenced-in grounds.

CAPTION: Officers’ Row 1873


IMAGE 2 of 3: Post Hospital

DESCRIPTION: Black and white photograph of a large two-story white building with a porch that wraps around the entire building. Stone columns line the building, supporting the porch overhead, which has wooden columns supporting the roof slanting down in all four directions of the rectangular building. Two tall chimneys rise up on each side of the building. There is an entrance on the second floor with two windows on either side. Standing in the foreground are seven men, posing in front of a freshly plowed garden. In the distance, stands an octagon building with a domed roof, the Powder Magazine, with the Officer Quarters beyond in the distance.

CAPTION: Post Hospital during the Civil War


IMAGE 3 of 3: Drawing of Artillery Piece and Crew: 

DESCRIPTION: Black and white line drawing of a cannon and its five-man crew. The cannon is facing left. The crew are standing at attention in their various positions around the cannon. A team of six horses and the wheeled ammunition chest are some distance away behind the cannon.



Soldier life at Fort Scott in the 1840s was one of boredom and monotony. Outside contacts were few and came mostly from Indians, travelers on the military road, and missionaries and traders on Indian lands. Social contacts were confined mostly to the post. Daily activities ranged from guard and fatigue duties to roll calls and drills. Periodic expeditions to patrol trails, escort wagon trains, and meet with Indians alleviated the routine.

The soldiers lived in tents and log huts until permanent quarters were completed. Food was shipped by wagon from Fort Leavenworth, over 100 miles away, and consisted mostly of salt pork, salt beef, rice, and beans. Fresh vegetables from fort gardens supplemented this. Items not supplied by the military could be purchased from the post sutler.

While illness and injury were constant threats to Fort Scott’s soldiers, combat was not. Nobody was killed in battle while stationed here. Work was rigorous during the years of construction, but once the post was built little was demanded of the garrison except general maintenance. All in all, Fort Scott had relatively good food and comfortable quarters, and the health of the soldiers was good.

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MAP and TEXT: Fort Scott Today


The purpose of this map of Fort Scott National Historic Site is to orient visitors to this 19th Century frontier military post as it exists today. This map is an artist’s rendering of a bird’s-eye view of the fort with the top of the map being north. The fort buildings that are accessible to the public are labeled on the map. Full descriptions of each building can be found in the related text.

We recommend starting your visit at the Visitor Center, which is directly north of the main parking area. As you step up from the parking lot, you will encounter a brick walkway. The center path will lead to the front entrance of the Visitor Center. If you stay to the right or left on the brick walkway, you will meet sidewalks that will take you around the building to the Parade Ground and the back entrance of the Visitor Center. From the back door, you have three available options to take, left, forward and right. Take the left and right paths to follow the perimeter of the Parade Ground, which is in the shape of a square.   

Viewing the map as a clock, the large flag pole sits at the center and the Visitor Center is at six o'clock. Moving around the clock to the left, you will first come to the Infantry Barracks at seven o’clock. The sidewalk then makes a hard right, turning north, following the stables on your left side. Continuing north, you will approach the entrance to the Dragoon Stables at nine o’clock. Turn left to follow the sidewalk to the north-facing entrance of the stables.

This sidewalk dead ends in front of the stable entrance. Return to the main sidewalk and turn left, heading north, and you will reach the Dragoon Barracks on your left. Just past this building, you will approach the sidewalk on the right that leads to Officers' Row.

If you continue heading north, past Officers' Row, you will find the Post Headquarters to your left. Beyond this building, the sidewalk intersects with another path that runs east to west behind the Officers' Quarters. Lining this path are multiple stone buildings used for storage, and the Carriage House. There is also a tallgrass prairie, with a one-quarter mile walking trail that starts just past the Carriage House and joins back up with the path a little ways further down.  

Returning to the path that leads in front of the Officers' Quarters, there are three steps up to the two buildings. Officers' Quarters No. 1 is the first building on the left. There are staircases on either side of the building, with the first roped off for staff only. Adjacent to this building is Officers' Quarters No. 2. The first set of stairs is open to the public. 

Moving past the Officers' Quarters, you are now at 12 o’clock on the map. At this point, you can continue around the Parade Ground, or take a sidewalk that will lead you back to the Visitor Center.

Taking the path back to the Visitor Center, which is a sharp right turn headed south, you will encounter the Well Canopy with the sidewalk encircling the well. Beyond, at the center of the Parade Ground, is the flagpole. 

Keep heading toward the Visitor Center at 6 o’clock, and you will come to the Powder Magazine. The sidewalk encircles the building. Past the Powder Magazine, you meet up with the entrance to the Visitor Center and the main sidewalk that will can take you to the left or to the right.

Facing north again, turn right from the Visitor Center, heading toward five o'clock, and the sidewalk will take you to the Guard House at the bottom right of the map. There are two entrances to the building on your right. 

Straight past the Guard House, the sidewalk becomes a brick path down to the picnic area and RV/bus parking lot. You can also make a hard left here, and head north again. This sidewalk continues around the Parade Ground, which is on your left and will lead to the other Infantry Barracks, with access to restrooms, at three o'clock.

The sidewalk makes a hard turn to the right after the Infantry Barracks. At this point, you can continue to the right toward the Quartermaster Storehouse, or make a 180 degree turn to hook back to the left to return to the path leading to the Officers' Quarters.

If you continue to the Quartermaster Storehouse, there is a left turn that connects you to the sidewalk that makes a complete loop around the building. There are entrances both the east and west side of the building. If you come out of the building on the east side, and make a right, the sidewalk will take you back toward the Parade Ground. If you turn left, the sidewalk connects to the path that runs behind the Officers' Quarters. 

At the point where those two paths meet, you can turn right and the Bakehouse will be on your left a short ways down. The edge of the park is just beyond this building, where the path turns into an access road. If you turn left, you will head along the back path, passing another stone building used for storage. Eventually, you'll pass the entrance to the tallgrass prairie trail and reconnect with the main sidewalk headed south past the Post Headquarters, toward the Parade Ground. Just beyond this turn, the access road continues as a gravel path along the western edge of the park. 

Returning to the Infantry Barracks where a bathroom is located, you can make an 180 degree hook turn on the path after the building, turning away from the Quartermaster Storehouse and placing you back on the path that leads to the Officers' Quarters. Along the path is the remnants of one of the original Officers' Quarters, now used for storage. Beyond this structure, on your left, will be the path that leads you through the Parade Ground, back to the Visitor Center.


Follow this map for a close look at the fort today. Open doors and exhibit signs indicate displays. Inquire about accessibility at the visitor center. Buildings open to the public are briefly described below.

Hospital (1843): Surgeons treated sick and wounded soldiers here during the 1840s and in the Civil War. It now houses a visitor center and bookstore. An upstairs ward is refurnished. Restoration

Infantry Barracks (1844): Home to infantry soldiers, this became the Western Hotel in the 1850s, a proslavery headquarters. The present building contains a museum and a film. Reconstruction

Dragoon Stables (1843): Eighty horses with their feed, tack, and hay could be sheltered here. Later it served as a Civil War storehouse for up to a million rations. Reconstruction

Dragoon Barracks (1844): Dragoon soldiers slept on the second floor and ate in the mess hall on the first floor. During Bleeding Kansas, it housed a land office and courtroom. Reconstruction

Post Headquarters (1848): In this building’s offices, the fort’s commander oversaw post operations and convened courts martial. In 1858, a man was killed here while it operated as a general store. Reconstruction

Officers’ Quarters No. 1 (1844): These quarters contained two bedrooms, a dining room, parlor, and kitchen for an officer’s family. Guests stayed here in the 1850s after it became the Fort Scott Hotel. Restoration

Officers’ Quarters No. 2 (1845): Originally a comfortable home for officers and their families, this duplex became a private residence for Hiero Wilson, a town father and former post sutler (storekeeper). Restoration

Quartermaster Storehouse (1843): This storehouse fueled the military with food and other supplies needed to put a fighting army into the field. It played a similar role during the Civil War. Restoration

Bake House (1848): Bread was a staple of the soldier’s diet. Enlisted men took turns at baking the daily ration of bread in ovens located inside. Restoration

Guardhouse (1848): This contained rooms for guards and the officer of the day along with cells for prisoners. Part of Civil War hospital complex and later became the city jail. Reconstruction

Powder Magazine (1844): An adjacent lightning rod and thick walls helped provide safe storage to the fort’s explosives—powder, cartridges, fuses, and primers. Also used by the Union Army (1863). Reconstruction 

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IMAGE and TEXT: From Frontier Fort to National Historic Site

DESCRIPTION: Black and white photograph from a perspective that is looking down over the roofline of commercial buildings and the former fort. In the foreground is a ridgeline of a rooftop with a brick chimney in the bottom right corner. In the center of the photograph is a row of commercial buildings, two with two-stories that have three windows on the second story and a door on the first floor and one building with one story that has a door and a small overhang. The background shows the former fort with the former post hospital building just left of center and a portion of the guardhouse on the far right. One other building and several trees are visible in the background.

CAPTION: Town of Fort Scott, Kan., late 1860s



From 1842 to 1873, the buildings of Fort Scott stood witness to epic events that helped shape the country. In the years after the army left, the city of Fort Scott thrived and expanded. The old fort buildings continued to serve as residences and commercial properties for many years. Eventually some were destroyed by fire, while others were torn down for new structures.

In the 1950s a group of Fort Scott’s history-minded citizens, proud of their town’s military origins, argued for restoring the fort to its late 1840s appearance to attract visitors and commemorate its nationally significant story.

Federal funding paved the way for the fort’s rebirth. Archaeological investigations determined the location of missing buildings. Structures not original were torn down, while most historic buildings and features were restored or reconstructed. In 1978 it became a national historic site. Today, Fort Scott’s buildings endure as memorials to the legacy of a young and vibrant America.

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IMAGE and TEXT: For Your Safety

DESCRIPTION: Black and white photograph of a post and beam frame that rises up taking the form of the stables with a shingled pitched roof. The building runs the distance of the photograph, as deep as 40 stalls on either side with a large loft overhead. Piles of dirt and stone run alongside the building. A crane pokes over the roofline behind the building.

CAPTION: Dragoon stables under reconstruction


Use caution on uneven walkways and use the handrail on steep stairs. Steps may be hazardous, especially during wet weather. Seek shelter in buildings during thunderstorms. Climbing on walls, wagons, cannon, and other features may cause serious injury. Keep a safe distance from horses. Smoking is not permitted in fort buildings or near the tallgrass prairie.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For those who are visually impaired, we offer the following services:

Our film is audio described. Please ask at the visitor center for a device that will allow you to access the audio description. 

The site offers a cell phone tour that is audio only. We also have a Mobile App that provides visitors with information about all of our exhibits and furnished rooms. Audio description of each stop or site is available through the app. 

In the museum, we have a three dimensional tactile map of the 1840s fort that you are able to touch.

The text of our site's brochure is available in braille. Ask at the visitor center desk if you or someone in your party requires a copy as you tour the site.

For more information on accessibility at Fort Scott National Historic Site, please visit

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OVERVIEW: More Information

Fort Scott 

National Historic Site

P.O. Box 918

Fort Scott, KS 66701-1471

(620) 223-0310

Fort Scott is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit

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