While camped in Ellis, we ventured over to the Fort Hays historic site. The fort was established in 1885 to protect the settlers during the Indian wars. It was continuously occupied until 1889 when it was abandoned, since all the native tribes had been defeated and forced onto reservations. During the height of its operations it hosted many legends of the old west. Lt Col George Custer and the 7th cavalry spent three years around the fort. He never commanded the fort and mostly chose to camp a short distance away so that he could carry on his practice of entertaining and conducting his operations without any oversight.
Some of the many original buildings have been restored and most interesting is the officer housing units. A guide walked us through the quarters and explained life at the fort and how the troops likely lived during the period. Among the later graffiti carved into the limestone buildings, you can find a number of etchings made by the soldiers that were stationed there. Interestingly, he noted that assignment to this fort was considered good duty.
Anneke agreed to test one of the fort’s outdoor facilities.
After several hours at the Fort, we spent a short time looking around the town of Hays nearby. It continues to prosper and had the same type of start as Abilene-as a cow town. It appears that Wild Bill Hickok got around, as he was also briefly the law here, as well.