Fort Hays - Exhibits
Interpretive exhibits are presented in historic buildings and in the visitor center at Fort Hays, as well as on the grounds of this historic frontier fortress.
Exhibits in the visitor center detail the conflict between Plains Indians and the "new" Americans that created the need for frontier forts. Explore Plains Indian objects, compare weapons used by the U.S. Army and the native people, handle items made from bison, and see the seven-minute Clash of Cultures video. A touch-screen panel allows you to tour the site as it would have been during the life of the fort.
Explore the two officers' quarters to see how officers and their families lived. Some rooms are sparsely decorated and feature camp furniture, representing the early life of the fort. Others feature more elaborate amenities that were available in the late 1880s, when the fort was closed. Catch a glimpse of the 85-foot-tall flagpole, the centerpiece of the fort's parade ground.
Exhibits in the original 1872 guardhouse tell the story of the everyday lives of enlisted soldiers. Try on a uniform, place yourself in a jail cell or barracks bunk, and hear the stories of men who represented immigrant soldiers, Buffalo Soldiers, and other enlisted men of Fort Hays. Touch screen panels allow you to hear music, stories, and reports from the fort and take on the identify of a person who lived at Fort Hays. Determine how you would have made an enlisted man's pay stretch to cover expenses when you visit the post trader's store vignette.
Exhibits in the original 1867 blockhouse explore the stories of some of the officers who were stationed at Fort Hays. Discover the mysteries of the blockhouse architecture with a visitor-activated light show, debunk popular culture myths about frontier forts, and find out what happened to the fort after the military left in 1889.
As you walk between buildings, discover 13 silhouettes representing people who lived and worked at Fort Hays, including a laundress, an officer's wife and child, a chaplain, a post surgeon, and a quartermaster. Interpretive signs show the location of original buildings of the fort, and coming in late 2010, you can explore a Cheyenne tipi painted in traditional fashion by students at the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribal College.