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News Release: Santa Fe Trail Center

The Santa Fe Trail Center near Larned is a regional museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the geographic area once known as the Santa Fe Trail. The trail was a great trade route which linked the United States with Mexico, and lat er with its own American southwest. The era of the Santa Fe Trail began in 1821, when Mexican independence from Spain opened up new trade opportunities for both American and Mexican merchants. Pulled by oxen and mules, commercial freight wagon trains cr ossed the plains until the railroad arrived near Santa Fe in 1880. This ended the Santa Fe Trail's freighting days and a new era began as settlers established homes, farms, and ranches along the ruts of the old trail.

The Santa Fe Trail Center opened its doors in 1974 and was accredited by the American Association of Museums three years later becoming one of the youngest museums in the nation to be granted such accreditation. A non-profit organization, the Center is l ocally owned and privately funded.

In 1991, the Santa Fe Trail Center was designated a certified site on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. It was the second site on the trail and the first site in Kansas to receive this important designation by the National Park Servi ce.

The museum's exhibits show the trail as a transportation route which blended the Indian, Spanish, and American cultures. Displays include prehistoric Indian artifacts, a Wichita Indian grass lodge, a full sized mounted buffalo, a commercial freight wagon, and an exhibit showing the Spanish influences on the trail.

The period of settlement along the ruts of the old trail, brought about by the coming of the railroad, is depicted in the museum by a series of rooms showing pioneer life in the early 1900's. An impressive collection of historic firearms showing the pro gression of weapons from flintlock to cartridge is also on display.

Outdoor exhibits on the Trail Center's 5-acre complex include a sod house, dugout home, limestone cooling house, one-room schoolhouse, and a Santa Fe Railroad depot. On special occasions, living history programs provide visitors with an insight into earl y pioneer life.

For those wishing to learn more about the trail, the Trail Center provides a research library and archives open to the public and free of charge.

The Santa Fe Trail Center is located 2 miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. It is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily Memorial Day through Labor Day. It is closed on Mondays the remainder of the year. It is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and N ew Year's Day. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for students 12-18, $1.00 for children 6-11, and free to pre-schoolers. Organized school groups are admitted at half-price. For more information about the Santa Fe Trail Center, call 620-285-2054.

Fort Larned Historical Society, Inc.
Rural Route Three
Larned, Kansas 67550