Trails and Treasures Home Page  Road Trips  Across America 2004

Hays, Kansas

Hays is about 55 miles north of Larned, along I-70. 

Fort Hays was established in 1867 to protect workers building the Union Pacific Railroad.  The fort was usually manned by three companies or about 210 men.  Generals Custer, Miles and Sheridan, along with “Buffalo Bill” Cody and “Wild Bill” Hickock were associated with Fort Hays at some point in their lives.  Once the railroad arrived, the post became a quartermaster depot, forwarding supplies to other forts to the south which did not have railroad access.  As the railroad grew, the number of settlers increased, the buffalo were slaughtered to near extinction, and the Native Americans were confined to reservations.  By the mid-1870s there was no longer a need for the post.  After the fort was finally abandoned in 1889, the nine buildings providing officer’s quarters were sold and moved off the property, and many other buildings were sold for building materials.  Only the original blockhouse and guardhouse remained standing.  Two of the officer’s quarters have been purchased and moved back to the Ft. Hays State Historic Site.  One of these house has been restored and furnished.  Interestingly, the rooms have been painted in colors popular at the time—bright reds, greens, yellows, mauves, and teals.  The quartermaster’s files include such paint colors.

Hays is also home to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.  George Sternberg was a collector of Cretaceous fossils, of which his most famous discovery was the fish within a fish.  Visitors start their tour of the museum by walking through a re-creation of Kansas a million years ago with a life-size animated Tyrannosaurus and other dinosaurs. 

Sternberg Cache   Old Fort Hays Cache