Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fort Osage

In 1804 Lewis and Clark passed a point of land located in what is now Sibley, Missouri. Clark noted that it would be an excellent place for a fort. In 1808 Clark returned and supervised the start of construction of what is known as Fort Osage. Below is a view of the reconstructed Fort looking northeast. The depression in the foreground was not present 200 years ago and the original fort extended far to the west of this view and included that land. 1/3 of Fort Osage has been reconstructed.
Above, the view from the Missouri River of the Fort.
Modern day entrance next to the Education Center. Fort Osage is roughly 20 miles east of KC off 24-hiway. Directions are on their website:

Lobby area and gift store.... you buy tickets here.
Above and below.... binoculars and a telescope aid visitors in looking for birds that inhabit the area.

Above.... the guards are all dressed as foxes.
The museum in the lower level gives an overall introduction to the plants and animals of the area as well as information about the Osage Indians and the operation of the Fort.

A patio/deck has additional information about wildlife. The Sibley Power Plant can be seen in the distance.
Leaving the visitor center you proceed to the Fort.

A garden was maintained outside the walls as space was at a premium inside.
Outer gate.... there's an inner gate also...

Inner gate with the officer's quarters visible in the opening.
Folks in period garb can answer just about any question you can think of.
Soldiers quarters.... dirt floor and un-compfy bunks.

Another view of the officer's quarters.

Cannon ready for action.... sort of.... along with openings for rifle fire....
Not a bad view.

Although the practice was banned in 1812, soldiers who misbehaved could be lashed in the middle of the courtyard prior to that date.
Looking out the interior gate down to the Factory House where trade was conducted between the Fort and the Indians and between trappers and the Fort. Fort Osage served many purposes including providing protection for trade and being a haven for westward travelers.
Happy visitors... non-period attire.
A demonstration of how to load a firearm from the period. Military standards dictated that a round should be fired every twenty seconds.... not easily done.

Yes.... they had double hung windows in 1808. In fact the Fort has been reconstructed according to the original plans that are still kept in Washington, D.C.

Lowest portion of the Factory House has a red line on the wall. Below the line the wall is original... above reconstructed.
One of the kitchens.

A fire is kept burning outside.... and normally in November would be a welcome place to sit.... but this was last Saturday and it was 75.

There is a boat landing below the Fort.... so, conceivably one could put their modern day boat in the water at Kansas City's (original) Riverfront Park and sail to the Fort for a little day trip.
There is much more to see than what I've shown here.... great trip for kids (we big ones too).


  1. "A demonstration of how to load a firearm from the period. Military standards dictated that a round should be fired every twenty seconds.... not easily done."

    And dangerous, too. Never place any part of you body (hand, face, fingers, etc.) over the muzzle while doing this. Unburnt powder can reside at the bottom of the barrel just waiting for your fresh charge.

    This all brings back memories.

  2. True. In fact the gentleman giving the demonstration said that soldiers were instructed to use their ring fingers if they had to insert a digit in the barrel thus avoiding the loss of the "trigger" finger. This would be prior to OSHA.

  3. Cool rreport as always.Next stop on HWY 24 is the Battle of Lexington site.

  4. We flew over Ft. Osage today enroute to Atlanta. I did not see you though. The first time I visited there was a field trip in 4th grade. I think that was just after they built it. ;-) I DO recall my teacher confiscating my Instamatic 100 camera for taking a photo when she told me not to. She was SUCH a control freak.... I'm not bitter.

  5. I was on the hill under that big tree waving a white kerchief. I occasionally get in trouble taking pictures too.

  6. When I was in Arizona a few years ago, I was shocked at how few people had been up to see the Grand Canyon, which is virtually in their back yards.

    I've at least been to most of the sites around here. Thanks for reminding me of a place I haven't seen in thirty years.

  7. It's funny to me that what I note is that the Education Center is built in the International Style (see: le Corbusier's Villa Savoye [1928-30] and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion [1929, reconstructed in 1959]).

    (And the masonry below that red line leads me to believe that those builders were in a big hurry or being overly "American" or something.)

    I have been to Ft. Osage, I think. Maybe. No, that was Missouri Town 1855 and Shoal Creek mushing together in my head.

    Most of us don't get too excited about old military posts, though we hope you stocked up on musket balls for me.