This Labor Day weekend the staff, volunteers and Old Guard members will be helping to commemorate Fort Larned National Historic Site's 50th anniversary on Saturday, August 30.

On August 31, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 88-541, which created Fort Larned National Historic Site. According to the enabling legislation the purpose of creating what would be the first National Park Service site in Kansas was to “…commemorate the significant role played by Fort Larned in the opening of the west.”

In the 50 years since President Johnson signed the bill creating Fort Larned as a national historic site, the employees, volunteers, and the fort’s friends’ group, The Fort Larned Old Guard, have all worked to make Fort Larned one of the premier frontier military posts in the country.

This Labor Day weekend the staff, volunteers and Old Guard members will be helping to commemorate the fort’s 50th anniversary on Saturday, August 30th. The commemorative activities will include a history of Fort Larned by Dr. Leo Oliva, as well as talks about the ranching period and the Park Service years.

The pen that LBJ had on his desk the day the bill was signed into law will be on display at Fort Larned from August 12 through Labor Day weekend.

On Sunday, August 31st, a joint celebration with Quivera National Wildlife refuge will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the introduction of Smoky Bear as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s forest fire prevention spokesperson.

As with previous Labor Weekend events, there will be volunteers and staff providing living history demonstrations in the historic buildings, as well as special programs and talks. A tentative schedule of events for August 30th is below. You can also check the schedule of events page on the Fort Larned website at All the programs listed will be in the quartermaster storehouse, with the flag raising and retreat ceremonies on the parade ground.

10:00 a.m.: Music provided by Prairie Larkspur (Fort Larned Old Guard Members Janet Armstead and Chris Day)

10:20 a.m.: Welcome by National Park Service Official, introduction of special guests (dignitaries are invited to speak), reading of letters from Larned Attorney Glee Smith and Senator Bob Dole, both of whom were instrumental in establishing Fort Larned National Historic Site, and announcements

10:45 a.m.: “Fort Larned, the Military Years, 1859-1878” by Leo E. Oliva

11:30 a.m.: Lowering of small storm flag and raising the 37 star - 36' x 20'garrison flag, with special color guard including McConnell Air Force Honor Guard, and retired U.S. Army Colonel Sam Young on bugle

12:00 noon: Free lunch of hot dogs, baked beans, chips, drink, and dessert provided by Fort Larned Old Guard

1:15 p.m.: “Fort Larned, the Farm Years” Speaker TBA.

1:45 p.m.: “Fort Larned, the National Park Years, 1964-Present” by Chief Ranger George Elmore

2:30 p.m.: Fort Riley 1st Infantry Band Concert, “The Army Story with Emphasis on Fort Larned Years”

3:30 p.m.: Free time to visit fort and living-history activities

4:30 p.m.: Fort Riley 1st Infantry Band performing period marches

4:45 p.m.: Retreat Ceremony, lowering garrison flag, firing mountain howitzer, Colonel Young on bugle