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Leavenworth County, KS

Leavenworth CountyThe land where Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth are located today was originally inhabited by the Kansa, Osage and Delaware Indians and today many of our streets are named after these and other local Indian tribes.

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

General Grant's Statue

Sculpted by Loredo Taft, in 1889, the statue and the pedestal are 9 feet tall each. It was the largest statue of its type in the Midwest when it was installed.

Fort Leavenworth, KS Memorials

Performing Arts Center

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1938

Leavenworth, KS Theatres

Leavenworth Historical Wayside Tour

Leavenworth, the "First City of Kansas", invites you to take a walk back in time and explore the history of "Where the West Began" by visiting our Historic Wayside Tour.

Leavenworth, KS Tours

Eisenhower Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Cntr.

While visiting the Veterans Administration Center and its grounds, you will want to see the Chapel of Veteran's. The Chapel, built in 1893, features architecture reminiscent of the early European cathedrals. In 1921, this attraction was made famous in Ripley's "Believe It or Not"

Leavenworth, KS Historic Churches

Command & General Staff College

The School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, established in 1881.

Fort Leavenworth, KS Colleges

University of St. Mary

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

Old Stone Wall

The Stone wall behind and across the street from Grant's statue is a favorite with photographers. The wall was restored in the early part of this century by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Fort Leavenworth, KS Landmarks

Memorial Chapel

Built in 1878 by prison labor from stone quarried on the post and, today, is considered to be an outstanding architectural "gem" in this area.

Fort Leavenworth, KS Historic Churches

United States Penitentiary -

Leavenworth is best known for the "Federal Pen" or "Big House", which is now a medium-security prison. Construction of this historic prison began in 1897, with the first cell house opening in 1906. The Federal Penitentiary has been the home of Kansas City Boss Tom Pendergast, George "Machine Gun"

Leavenworth, KS Penitentiaries

Barth Hall and the "Beehive"

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 1882

Fort Leavenworth, KS Historic Buildings

National Fred Harvey Museum

The National Fred Harvey Museum seeks to: * Restore the Harvey residence in Leavenworth to its historic magnificence. * Increase public awareness of Mr. Harvey's achievements and his contributions to civilizing the great American Southwest. *

Leavenworth, KS Museums

The Rookery

The Rookery at 12-14 Sumner Place is the oldest house in Kansas. It was completed in 1834 and was the first permanent post headquarters building. Lieutenant Douglas MacArthur lived here in the early 1900s. The building is a Registered National Landmark.

Fort Leavenworth, KS Famous Homes

Explore Leavenworth County