Fort Larned, 55 million dollar Forensic Lab

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with the history of Fort Larned and how it became part of the National Park System. Next learn about the 55 million dollar Forensic Lab recently opened by the KBI on the Washburn University campus; and then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson. We’ll end with Brent Harris, honorary Marshall of the Boot Hill Museum, and also the “Face of Dodge City”, on billboards, magazines and posters.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank) You realize it’s Wednesday again, and it’s almost the end of April. (Deb) Saying goodbye to April. I cannot believe it. It’s been a very good month for me. I hate to see it go. (Frank) Yea. Oh well, as time flies on, here we are again. Oh, by the way I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Hope you knew that when you tuned in. (Deb) Of course they did, because they’re all loyal followers of our show. (Frank) Yes, so anyway, you’ve been traveling all around as usual. (Deb) Yea, yea, I think I’ve got to get some new tires. So anybody with a deal on tires you might give me a call. You know I had a wonderful trip and we’ll do some segments. That’s the side benefit to running around. I don’t know which is the primary purpose, to have fun and then I get to do segments, or to do segments and then I get to have fun. I don’t know which way it goes. But went out to Colorado, eastern Colorado over my birthday weekend and visited Bent’s Old Fort and then the site of Bent’s New Fort and what would have been Fort Wise, which was Jeb Stuart’s last duty station in Kansas territory before he resigned. So, I’m going to do some features on those because of course, as we were taught, that was all part of the Kansas territory. (Frank) Yes, it was. (Deb) So, until we lopped that part off and the Colorado territory was created, that was all part of Kansas and so their history is all so intertwined with our history. You can’t separate it. Of course, we’re going to talk today about Fort Larned and Bent’s Old Fort is in the National Park System, so admission is free for all the National Parks this year, because it is their Centennial Year. (Frank) A hundred years. (Deb) Take advantage of that to visit as many National Parks as you can get in. Of course, we’re blessed in Kansas to have some awesome parks. In addition to Fort Larned, we’ve got Fort Scott, we’ve got Brown v. Board. We’ve got others I hesitate to say, because I will leave somebody out I’m sure, but take advantage of those, the National Grasslands and all those different places. (Frank) Grandpa’s going to scold you here, when you do go and it is free, behave yourself. What I mean is follow the rules and that is, if you’ve got water bottles, or you’re going to have lunch or whatever, make sure you put the trash in a trash can and don’t throw it on the ground. Really, there’s been some problems, and people are just not following the rules. I mean, it’s your land; it’s your park. Take care of it. (Deb) It’s outrageous. You know, one of the things that sets America apart from so many other countries, is the National Park System. A lot of people don’t have that and pause to thank Teddy Roosevelt for putting all that in place and preserving those pieces of wilderness or those pieces of history or geography, whatever those parks might be. Yes, by all means, treat them well. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) Leave them better than you found them for future generations. (Frank) And don’t feed the animals. (Deb) And don’t be animal food. Don’t let them eat you either. Follow the rules. Be smart. Don’t go chasing buffalo for photo ops. Here’s my selfie with the buffalo who is about to gore me in Yellowstone! Yea, that’s… (Frank) So anyway…. (Deb) We’ve got a great show for you today. So stay with us.

(Frank) One, one, one other thing on parks. (Deb) One, one, one, one, one, one. (Frank) One more. (Deb) Spit it out Porky! (Frank) Yea, betip, betip. It’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. So anyway. (Deb) I have been to Smokey Bear’s grave! (Frank) What? (Deb) I collect graves, you know. But I have been to Smokey Bear’s grave. (Frank) OK. (Deb) And it is very hard not to say, Smokey the Bear, but it is Smokey Bear. (Frank) It’s Smokey Bear. (Deb) But he’s buried in Capitan, New Mexico. I think, if I remember correctly, I think I actually saw Smokey Bear at the National Zoo in Washington when I was a teenager too. I will check the dates to make sure I’m not lying to you, but yea, Smokey Bear’s grave. (Frank) OK. We’re also going to talk about forts. (Deb) My favorite topic. (Frank) Yea and Kansas was full of forts. You have another fort you’re going to talk about. (Deb) Fort Larned. It’s just amazing. Number one, it’s beautiful. When people see it they’re just shocked by how pretty it is and a lot of kids are shocked because they’ve got this image of what a fort looks like and there’s no wall around it. There’s no palisades because of course, we had no trees. But it’s a wonderful part of the National Park System and there’s so much. And when you go to Larned make sure you stop by the Santa Fe Trail Museum also. That’s not too far away. Yes, Fort Larned. They’ve got April 30th, they’ve got an event coming up, the Old Guard and Muster. Our friend Leo Oliva will be there. It will be a great day. They’re going out to the Indian Village, the Cheyenne Village that would have been not too far from Larned. Lots of history. That will be a phenomenal event. But they’ve got stuff going on all the time, so check out their website. Yea, we’ll take a closer look at Fort Larned. Like most of our western forts, Larned was designed to protect commerce. Located on the lucrative Santa Fe Trail, the post was originally located a few miles east of its permanent site. David Bell, an officer in the 1st US Cavalry, established a camp on the Pawnee Fork in October 1859. It later became Camp Alert and finally, Fort Larned in honor of Col. Benjamin F Larned, paymaster general of the US Army. The fort also served as a central location to distribute annuities to the Plains Tribes, as prescribed by the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861. Fort Larned was the site of a meeting between General Winfield Scott Hancock and several Cheyenne chiefs on April 12, 1867, in which Hancock intended to impress the Dog Soldier chiefs with his military power. During the winter of 1868–69, U.S. Major General Phil Sheridan launched a campaign against the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche Indians on the Great Plains. Sheridan’s men attacked any who resisted, taking their supplies and livestock and pushing the remaining Indians back into their reservations. By the end of the Winter Campaign, Sheridan had successfully forced a majority of the Indians in the Fort Larned area onto reservations. Renovations to Fort Larned took place between 1866 and 1868. The original sod and adobe structures were removed and replaced with the sandstone buildings that make up the fort today. By 1871, no escorts were required for the wagon trains traveling on the Santa Fe Trail, eliminating the need for military presence in the region. The post was abandoned in July 1878, and five years later the Fort Larned Military Reservation was transferred from the War Department to the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior. From 1885 to 1966, the buildings were used to house the headquarters of a ranch. In 1957 the Fort Larned Historical Society was founded to develop and open the site as a tourist attraction. The fort was designated as a National Landmark in 1961 and in 1964 it was incorporated as a unit of the National Park System.

(Deb) I’m sorry. Frank didn’t realize that Smokey Bear, was in fact dead. And so, he’s been grieving ever since I let him in on that. So, I’m sorry Frank. (Frank) That could be a story in itself. (Deb) That could be another story in itself. (Frank) OK. (Deb) I don’t know if they did an autopsy or anything at the Crime Lab as a segue into the next segment. (Frank) Yes, the Crime Lab, the new one at Washburn University. (Deb) We’ve talked about all the changes going on at Washburn, the campus is growing and Dr. Farley has just been an amazing leader for this school for several years now. The transformation during his tenure has been pretty amazing. The addition of the KBI Crime Lab, which they desperately, desperately, desperately needed, is just a jewel on the campus. What they will be able to accomplish there is really something. (Frank) Yes, I have not been inside it yet. (Deb) Me neither. (Frank) But of course the outside, watched it being built. (Deb) Sure. (Frank) And it was like, wow, this is something. You know they’re moving out of my old junior high. (Deb) Oh, Crane? (Frank) I went to Crane. Yea. I went to Crane Junior High. I hope that once the building is vacated that there is an effort to preserve it and all of that, because it is a beautiful, beautiful building, much like Topeka High. (Deb) Which is because they were designed by the same architect, Tom Williamson, amazing and talented man. Topeka High is just one of the most beautiful schools I have ever seen. The first high school that cost a million dollars west of the Mississippi, something like that. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) We’ll do a segment on Topeka High sometime. When you come to Topeka to visit the Capitol and all the other things we’ve have going on, make sure you drive past Topeka High, see the statue of the Trojan standing out front. It really is pretty. (Frank) That was my class too by the way that put the Trojan up there! (Deb) Really? Well, thanks to you Frank. (Frank) Class of ’61. (Deb) We appreciate that. It’s gorgeous. (Frank) Yea, isn’t it? (Deb) It’s stunning. It’s really beautiful. Janet Zoble. (Frank) Uh huh. (Deb) The sculptor, she does amazing work and of course, I guess Tim Degginger did the statue and they just do amazing work. (Frank) Actually, it was three different classes that actually did the statue. (Deb) Ahhh, really? (Frank) Our class was one of those. (Deb) You didn’t have to say that. (Frank) Well no, yes I did because they will come and beat me up. (Deb) Were you a nerd in school Frank? (Frank) No. (Deb) You were one of the cool guys. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) I was a nerd. I was a nerd. Still am, you know. Alright, let’s take a look at the new KBI Crime Lab and hope we never wind up there. (Frank) The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) opened a $55 million forensic lab on the grounds of Washburn University. The 100,000 square foot building houses the Bureau’s state-of-the-art crime lab and replaces the existing facility located in the basement of a former Topeka school building. According to KBI Lab Director Mike Van Stratton, there are 70 scientists and technicians working in the facility. The new building has specific areas reserved for each department of the lab including biology, DNA, toxicology, chemistry, firearm/tool mark, latent prints, trace evidence and digital forensics. There is also an area for processing vehicles. In addition to housing KBI’s forensics operation, the new building houses an expanded forensics program for Washburn University. In addition to the existing forensic chemical science degree – which includes an emphasis on forensic chemistry and biology – the university recently added concentrations in digital forensics and forensic anthropology as well as forensic investigation to the Washburn course offerings. The students will work in labs similar to those used by the KBI forensic scientists and they will share common space including a crime reconstruction space and a 100-seat auditorium. KBI scientists will be guest lecturers and experts in Washburn’s classes and faculty members will be available to provide their expertise to KBI as needed. It is expected that some of those same students will transition to KBI forensic scientists and technicians. This new building is the result of a partnership between the university, KBI and the City of Topeka. The Topeka Public Building Commission financed the project and rent paid by KBI will eventually retire the bonds. This lab is one of only a handful of working forensic labs on university campuses and the only one where the lab and the university share space to help educate students, according to a Washburn spokesman.

(Ron) Kansas is sometimes called “Tornado Alley,” along with Oklahoma and Texas. And those were the very same states where the great cattle drives happened in the post Civil War era when the legend of the cowboy came to life. Imagine being on the trail drives in those days without weather radio, weather radar and all the modern communications we have. This is a serious poem that I wrote. It’s titled, “Terror on the Trail.” It was cloudy and dry that hot day in July, as we drove cattle up the trail. We were needing rest in our dogged quest to drive ’em to the Kansas rail. But in the western skies, where we turned our eyes, a cloud bank started to build. Then the clouds turned dark, we saw lightening spark as the black clouds grew and filled. The air was muggy, Hoss’ eyes went buggy, the cattle were restless and flighty. As the clouds drew near, the boss made it clear this storm is gonna be mighty. Then the sky turned green like nothin’ we’d seen, the air was so still it was eerie. With nary a bicker, we pulled on our slickers even though we were bone tired and weary. Rain started a fallin’, the cattle were bawlin’ and the clouds started whirling around. We hear a distant roar, then the noise seemed to soar, til it filled our ears with the sound. To our terrified stare, from the devilish air, a black rope dropped from the skies. With a roar like a train, it plowed cross the plain, tossing men, dirt and cattle like flies. It’s a cyclone boys, the boss yelled though the noise. Now it’s every man for hisself. My horse spooked despite my rebuke as I rode him off a side hill shelf. The cattle stampeded, and ran unheeded as brave men rode for their lives. Critters ran pell-mell in the face of this hell, in a desperate race to survive. Then the roar started fading, and the sounds started trading some rain drops for the cyclones roar. The rain came in torrents to the riders abhorrence, like an ocean tide pounding the shore. Then we saw the rain stop, with a few stray raindrops, all of a sudden the sky was clear blue. But the path of the storm and the death it performed came fully into our view. Dead cattle and a horse, along the storms course gave the killer storm mute testimony. Two cow hands were dead and 21 head of long horns plus one cow pony. We grieved for our pards and though it was hard, we buried them there on the plain. Then I mounted my stead and resumed the deed, of gathering the herd that remained. Now we made Abilene, but the sights that I’ve seen will stay in my nightmares without fail. For I saw bodies fly that hellish day in July, when a cyclone hit out on the trail.

(Frank) Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon! (Deb) Is that your best Chester imitation? (Frank) Yea! That again, we’ve talked about Dodge City but we’re going to talk about Dodge City somewhat again. At least she is. It is a fabulous place. (Deb) I love it. (Frank) There is so much real history there and then of course, Gunsmoke made it a national legend and all of that. But you have a friend that is the face of Dodge City. (Deb) Brent Harris and if you have been on a road in Kansas and not had your eyes shut, you’ve seen Brent’s face. His face is everywhere. And it’s a great face too. He is employed by Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City and he is the guy that just had that Old West face and just an amazing guy and knows his history really well. If you ever get the chance to stop Brent and chat with him, carve out half a day because you can chat for a while with Brent. But he’s so enthusiastic about the history there and encouraging boosters. He’s a wonderful ambassador for Dodge City. His face is just plastered on…wouldn’t that go to your head? We should get billboards Frank. If your face…if you’re driving down I-70, how many thousands of people a day see Brent’s face on these billboards? (Frank) We should be out there saying Hi! Welcome to Kansas! (Deb) Exactly. Come on and look around Kansas. (Frank) Yes, I guess we’ll have to talk to the producer. (Deb) I think we will. In the meantime, let’s visit with my friend, Brent Harris. Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City began in 1947 as a community service project by the local Jaycees. First housed in the Boot Hill Building adjacent to Boot Hill Cemetery, the Museum contained a wide variety of cultural and natural history objects. During the 1950’s, the 1865 Fort Dodge jail was acquired and a train engine was moved to the site. In 1958, the construction of historic Front Street began. Other buildings have been added and the popular tourist destination has continued to evolve. The challenge might be wrapping that big story of the West into one image, an image that instantly conveys what the Boot Hill Museum complex is all about. Then someone snapped a photo of Brent Harris, decked out in western garb. His face said it all. He allows one can hardly go anywhere without seeing that iconic photo. But he also claims, “It ain’t about me! It’s not who the picture is of,” said Brent, “It’s what the picture is of!” Brent has been “hanging around” Boot Hill for a couple of decades. He started out, back then, driving the stagecoach. One thing led to another. Now he has an office, a computer, and a badge. “Yes, they call me the Marshal. Only thing is, my jurisdiction starts and stops right here at Boot Hill Museum. I am very proud, honored, and yes, humbled, to be referred to as the “Face of Dodge City,” said Brent. But with the honor, he concedes, comes great responsibility. “Lends new meaning to living the “Cowboy Way”…honest ways and a good clean life.” His face – on billboards, magazines, and posters – says it all.

(Frank) Well, another one done. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

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