Monday, August 11, 2008

Fort Atkinson, KS, A Spot for Relic Hunters

For the relic hunters in the crowd I have some information about an old fort in Kansas. The last information I had was that the location of the fort is on private property, which is now farmland.

The fort was Fort Atkinson and it was located in Ford County, KS. about 2 miles west of Dodge City, KS. Fort Atkinson was established in 1851 and lasted until 1854. Before becoming a fort it was considered a “camp” for about a year and was called Camp Mackay before changing it’s name. There were also a few other names this fort was known by including Fort Sumner, this name came from the name of the first commanding officer at the fort and Fort Sod, a name given to the fort by the soldiers that occupied it because the buildings were all made of sod and adobe brick. The sod buildings weren’t the best in the world so the fort was abandoned in 1854 because the buildings were falling apart.

The fort had anywhere from 80-145 troops stationed there at any given time including a garrison of Dragoons on occasion. The fort’s walls were also made of sod and ran for 150 feet on the north side, 335 feet on the east and west sides and the south wall was 80 feet long, making for a shape that looked somewhat like an elongated diamond. The fort’s main purpose was to protect travelers and the mail coaches traveling along the Santa Fe Trail.

Anyone that has done their share of relic hunting might look at this as a good opportunity to find some nice things. Since the fort’s walls and buildings were all made of sod this should drastically cut down on the amount of metal “junk” in the area.

The fort received supplies twice a year from Fort Leavenworth. The supplies usually arrived in August and again in April or May. The military was hesitant to send supplies more often because of the cost involved. I guess Uncle Sam can be cheap when he wants to.

The camp and fort were only in use for about four years but there were enough people and supplies going in an out of the fort during that time that this would probably be a good place to run a detector if you can get permission to be on the property. The location of the fort is in the southwest quarter of Section 29, Township 26 south, Range 25 west.

There is another spot about three quarters of a mile northwest of the fort location that was known as “The Caches”. This spot was used for temporary storage of supplies by a pack train in 1822. Maybe they left something behind for someone to find that is good with a detector.

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