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Cultures Collide

"Cultures Collide"Fort Larned sits along the routes of the Santa Fe Trail which connected Missouri to New Mexico. For thousands of years, Native American peoples crossed the Great Plains for hunting, travel, and trade. For centuries, Spanish and French military men vied with one another and with tribes for dominance of the prairies. Beginning in the 1820s, Americans traders used this route to exchange manufactured goods for gold, silver, and wool from New Mexican merchants. This lucrative trade set in motion six decades of rapid change as American and Mexican citizens poured into and across the heart of the Great Plains. This cultural collision transformed not only European Americans and Hispanic Southwesterners but also the Native American peoples of the Great Plains and the land itself.

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Fort Larned and the Santa Fe Trail

In 1825, a few short years after a Missouri trader named William Becknell journeyed into Mexico and back, the U.S. government surveyed a length of terrain that would become known as the Santa Fe Trail. Soon the two-way business highway would become an international trade route, risky yet prosperous, and eventually altering the landscape. Trader's caravans ventured into the unknown, risking confrontations with tribes like the Kiowa, and southern bands of Cheyenne and Arapahoe, to name a few. A series of military forts, including Fort Larned, were established to protect travelers, escort government supply wagons, and maintain the peace. A park ranger will transport you back in time to a dusty trail in the vicinity of a lonely outpost that was Fort Larned. Today the historic site tells of a legacy with a stunning visual landscape and nine original sandstone buildings that surround a parade ground.

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Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail

Imagine crossing the prairie of central Kansas and coming around a bend in the Pawnee River to a humming army post. Fort Larned was established in 1859 to extend the power of the United States over the Great Plains sections of the Santa Fe Trail. After less than 20 years - as the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad main line replaced the Santa Fe Trail - it was sold as surplus and used as a ranch. The ranch preserved nine of the original sandstone buildings. During the summer, our living history program brings these buildings to life with smithing, woodworking, and more. Explore this place through your own eyes or those of a soldier, soldier's family, merchant, or Native American visitor

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