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Fort Hays State Historic Site
Hays Kansas Historic Site

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NameFort Hays State Historic Site
Address1472 Hwy 183 Alt
Hays, Kansas 67601-9212
Brief DescriptionMuseum located on the grounds of Indian Wars fort.
CategoryHistoric Site
DescriptionFort Hays was first established in the fall of 1865 as Fort Fletcher and was to protect travelers and mail coaches along the Smoky Hill Trail. It was closed after only six months when the trail was no longer in use. In the fall of 1866 Fort Fletcher was reopened in order to help protect railroad workers building the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, to Denver. Shortly after reopening it was renamed Fort Hays. In the spring of 1867 the fort was relocated 15 miles west to its present location on the south edge of present-day Hays, Kansas. It became a major supply depot for other forts as well as a base for troops. Famous units stationed at Fort Hays included the 9th and 10th Cavalry's (the famed "Buffalo Soldiers"), the 5th Infantry, and the 7th Cavalry. General Philip Sheridan, General Nelson Miles, Major Marcus Reno, and General George Armstrong Custer were some of the famous military figures associated with Fort Hays. It was closed in 1889 and in 1965 became a state historic property administered by the Kansas Historical Society.

The museum consists of two wood frame officers' homes, a stone guardhouse and a stone blockhouse.

One officers' home has recently been renovated interprets unique perspective on life at Fort Hays. One half of the building shows the early period in the late 1860s when life was fast-paced and troops frequently moved in and out of the fort. The other half shows the latter period when things were much slower. The 18th Infantry was stationed here the last 5 years the fort was in operation so officers had time to furnish and decorate their homes to personal taste. The other officers' home shows the difference in rank structure and how living quarters were assigned.

The guardhouse (military prison) has also undergone extensive conservation and new exhibits have been installed. They include interactive exhibits of the life of the enlisted man at a frontier army post, displays of artifacts recovered at the site from archeological digs, a display of the trader's store (what is now called the PX), and a uniform try-on station.

The blockhouse was originally built as a barrack building although its major use was as the post headquarters building. Exhibits here center on the officers as well as the role Fort Hays has played in movies, books, and television shows.

A modern visitor's center is also on site. A variety of exhibits and displays interpret the life of Fort Hays and its occupants.

Special events are held periodically. A free Independence Day picnic and band concert is held on the museum grounds in conjunction with the city's fireworks display that takes place across the highway from the museum. The Saturday before Halloween, "Graveside Conversations" offers a tour of the Fort Hays cemetery. On the first Friday and Saturday in December is "Christmas Past," an open house with buildings and grounds decorated in the Victorian style. It is from 7 to 9pm both nights. Admission is $2 per person with those 12 and under admitted free.
Phone 1(785) 625-6812
Handicapped AccessibleYes
Time Allowance1 hour
Social LinksFacebook 
Request BrochureFort Hays information
Last Updated12/12/2014
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Fort Hays State Historic Site - Hays, Kansas  67601-9212

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What's Nearby?

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