First called Camp Pond Creek, Fort Wallace was established in 1865. The fort
as the headquarters for troops given the task of protecting travelers
headed west along the Smoky Hill Trail to the Denver gold fields. Fort Wallace,
the first post of Custer's 7th Cavalry, was the western most military outpost in
Kansas and from 1865 to 1878 served as one of the most active military posts in
the Central Plains. Troops often spent time in the field, and the fort was attacked
several times by Plains Indians striving to defend their lands and protect their
way of life.
Due to the protection of Fort Wallace, the town Wallace was an important way station along the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, and later, for the Kansas Pacific and Union Pacific Railways. A real cross-roads of the West, this area was populated by such figures as "Wild Bill" Hickok, William F. Cody and William Comstock (who scouted for the cavalry at Fort Wallace).
The fort was actually located about two miles to the southeast of the museum. Abandoned in 1882, nothing is now visible of the stone and wood buildings where once over 300 men were stationed. A small replica of the fort is on display within the museum.
Just north of where the fort once stood, the old post cemetery still exists, enclosed by stone walls within the Wallace Township Cemetery. In 1867 US soldiers erected a monument as a tribute to their comrades who had been killed in action and buried there. Although the soldiers' remains were later moved to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, the monument still stands in their honor.
Today, Fort Wallace is represented by a small state-operated museum nearby in the town of Wallace, with a fantastic collection of relics from the fort as well as photos, reproduction items, and literature covering the post's history and the settlement of the Great Plains. The Museum consists of the main museum building and a great collection of historic building brought in from a number of nearby locations.
The Pond Creek Stagecoach Station, originally located approximately one mile southwest of the museum, was recently restored with a $90,000 Heritage Trust Fund Grant, the Pond Creek Stagecoach station is one of only two Butterfield Overland Dispatch stations remaining in existence. The building is constructed of ponderosa pine which was brought to the Pond Creek site by ox cart in 1865, making it one of the oldest buildings between Leavenworth and Denver. It was known as a 'home station' - meals and protection were provided, along with a change of horses. The trap door located in the floor, illustrates how 3 tunnels were built to extend out from underneath the building: stone-covered bunkers at the end of the tunnels were utilized by sharpshooters to prevent Indians from approaching close enough to set the station on fire. With the coming of the railroad and the end of the Butterfield Overland Dispatch in 1869, the building became the Thomas Madigan store in boomtown Wallace.
The Weskan Depot is one of the few original railroad depots erected in the nineteenth century. The structure was relocated to the Fort Wallace Museum grounds in the 1960's and contains many artifacts used while in service. Additionally, the building's exterior has recently been painted in its original yellow color.
The newest addition to the museum complex was completed in 2003. Named the Sunderland-Poe building, this red metal outbuilding houses the largest of the museum exhibits, including two restored Conestoga Wagons, several sleighs and buggies, and countless farm implements and machinery. This building also houses our most unique exhibits--entire animals and scenes made entirely out of barbwire.
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Saturday: 9am - 5pm
Sunday: 1pm - 5pm
Fort Wallace Museum
Highway 40, Box 53
Wallace, Kansas 67761