Kanopolis Things to Do
Kanopolis was built in 1887 around the remains of Fort Harker, an outpost established so soldiers could escort construction crews laying the railroads west.
A surgeon based at the fort's hospital described the wards as having ‘three comfortable armed rocking chairs…a good clock…and a good tin medical bathtub. Patients who are able to do so and all the attendants are directed to bathe at least twice a week.’ The hospital treated soldiers and civilians alike for bronchitis, dysentery, snakebite and battle wounds during armed engagements with the local tribes.
When the railroad reached Denver the soldiers were relieved of the duties and the fort closed in 1872.
Several substantial stone buildings remain, including this one which is the fort's museum. The stone has a startling darkness unlike the usual buttery limestone you see most elsewhere in Kansas.
The fort museum is closed Mondays and public holidays. Otherwise it is open in the warmer months (April-September or so) Tues-Fri 12 to 5, Sat 9-12 and Sun 1-5. It might close for a half hour during lunchtime.
The grounds have an excellent series of interpretive signs and maps so you can learn the history of the area and read descriptions of the soldiers' lives. Near as I can tell they lived on fried eggs, beans, bread and coffee!Related to:
- Historical Travel
A few blocks east of the main fort grounds you will find a trio of commanding officers' quarters. Two of these are now private homes. The third is empty but you can peer in through the windows. Ask at the museum if you want a look inside.
One of the fort's privies (waste troughs) was excavated in 1992. Archeaologists recovered twenty-three THOUSAND artefacts including buttons, shoes, bullets, broken ceramic, bottles, bone handles and a 5-cent piece dated 1869. I just hope they washed it all thoroughly...Related to:
- Historical Travel
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