On the border with Missouri in the southeastern region of Kansas and 95 mi/155 km south of Kansas City, Fort Scott National Historic Site is set above the Marmaton River. It was built in 1842 to protect the border of the Permanent Indian Frontier. The fort was abandoned and reactivated several times until 1873. Today, the compound has been restored. You can tour the officers' quarters, the guardhouse and the hospital. Several galleries document the turbulent history of the area, and in summer, the fort operates as a living-history museum: Costumed staff re-enact daily life on a frontier outpost.
While you're in town, take time to visit the country's first national cemetery. Narrated trolley tours roll past the town's major sites, including Fort Scott's many Victorian mansions lining brick-covered streets. Gordon Parks—who grew up in segregated Fort Scott and became a photographer (Life, Vogue magazines), writer and film director (Shaft)—is honored at the Gordon Parks Center. Good Ol' Days is held every June in Fort Scott with antiques, arts and crafts, and entertainment.
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