Somewhere in the vicinity of present day Salt Creek Valley northeast of Leavenworth, the French operated a fur trading post for possibly a score of years in the mid-1700's. This was the earliest white settlement of the region.
In 1827, Colonel Henry Leavenworth founded Fort Leavenworth on the bluffs of the Missouri River. For the next several decades Fort Leavenworth played an important role in keeping the peace among the various Indian tribes and the increasing number of settlers heading west. By the 1840's, travel to Oregon and California had begun and thousands of wagons passed through Fort Leavenworth on the way to the Santa Fe and Oregon Trail.
In 1854, the City of Leavenworth was founded as the very first city of Kansas.
In 1858, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth settled here. In 1864, the Sisters opened St. John's Hospital and in 1923 founded St. Mary College.
In 1863, the legislature passed an act to erect the Kansas St. Penitentiary on a site which is now located within the city of Lansing. The contract to build the prison was let in 1863 and work started in 1864. However, because of money difficulties connected with the Civil War, work stopped in 1864 and did not resume again until 1866. The building was first occupied in 1868.
In 1878, Lansing was platted into town lots.
In 1881, the school that was later to become the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College was founded on Fort Leavenworth by General William T. Sherman. Some of the many famous students and instructors at the college are George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Colin Polwell and George Patton.
In 1885, the Wadsworth of Old Soldiers Home was built, and later became the Veterans Administration Center. In 1893, the Immanuel Chapel, made famous in Ripley's "Believe It or Not", was built on the V.A. grounds.
In 1906, the first cellhouse of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary was opened. Among the infamous criminals incarcerated here were Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert Staud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.
There are a great deal of wonderful sites and experiences waiting for you and we hope that you will get the opportunity to enjoy some of our renowned Kansas hospitality.
Explore Leavenworth County
The Fairchild/Knox hay barn and milk parlor are now the Community building and the museum of the Tonganoxie Historical Socitey. The original barn was built in 1901, but burned down in 1928. Frank Fairchild, with his wife, Mattie, formerly of Ulster County, NY started the dairy with 40Tonganoxie, KS Historic Barns
The Frontier Army Museum depicts the Frontier Army (1817-1917) and history of Fort Leavenworth (1827-present). The original collection began in 1939 when the wagon shop at Fort Leavenworth closed and the horse-drawn vehicles were relocated and called the "Old Rolling Wheels Museum". In 1960Fort Leavenworth, KS Museums
The "DB," as it is known, was established as a military prison in 1873. The buildings inside date from 1863 to 1964. The DB is the only military maximum security facility. This USDB closed in 2003 and the inmates were moved to the new USDB on the west side of the fort. The 'castle'Fort Leavenworth, KS Historic Buildings
No longer a private institution, this four year college is located across the street from the Veterans Administration Center. The College's administration building, St. Mary Hall, was completed in 1870. Visitors are welcome to visit the De Paul Library's Special Collections:Leavenworth, KS Colleges
Barth Hall, the building on the corner of Kearney and McCellan Avenues, was the home in 1881 of the School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, the predecessor of the Command and General Staff College. The large building directly west of Barth Hall is known as the "Beehive." Built in 1882Fort Leavenworth, KS Historic Buildings
A visit to this museum is an experience into the past. You will enter a Victorian home finished in 1882. It features elaborate handcrafted woodwork throughout the house, beautiful stained glass windows and elegant antiques from the Victorian age era to the early 20th century.Leavenworth, KS Museums
The original Reno Methodist Church was opened August 16, 1891 at a cost of $1,900. Samuel Kelsall and James Phenicie were instrumental in its organization. The first minister was John Jacobs - a Baptist and blacksmith in Reno. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1918Tonganoxie, KS Historic Churches
Designated a National Cemetery by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 along with eleven others, military graves date back to 1846. Today, more than 20,000 veterans representing every war since 1812 are buried in the cemetery. Two soldiers from Operation Desert Storm were interred here in 1991.Fort Leavenworth, KS Cemeteries
The River Connection Tour is a great way for you and yours to spend a couple of days or a family weekend. A multitude of interesting historical attractions, sites and experiences are available daily and spending more than a day is a definite must to capture the true flavor of our communities.Leavenworth, KS Tours
The Buffalo Soldier Monument, the brainchild of General Colin Powell, is a recent addition to Fort Leavenworth's historic landmarks. Dedicated in 1992, the monument honors the African-American soldiers who served in the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments.Fort Leavenworth, KS Monuments