Midwest Highlights Conflict on Plains

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Trip 4: Upper Midwest

Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota

Though best known for its farming heritage, the six states comprising this military history tour played a significant part in early 1860s warfare with the famed Sioux.

State historic sites tell the story of these engagements through authentically preserved forts and interpretive trails. All these states also contributed significantly to Civil War armies, and one saw its border torn asunder.

Editor's Note: be sure to let us know if we missed any of your favorite sites.


State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, Des Moines, (515) 281-6412.

More than 350 artifacts-weapons, uniforms, artillery and battle flags-pertaining to Iowans' role in the Civil War.

Iowa Gold Star Museum

Johnston, (515) 252-4531.

Covers state military history from 1846 to present, including service of residents. Uniforms, flags, medals, scale models and howitzers. Outdoor exhibits-vehicles and aircraft from 1940 to present.

Abbie Gardner Cabin State Historic

Site, Arnolds Park, (712) 332-7248.

Site of 1857 Spirit Lake Massacre, the bloodiest massacre in Iowa history. Cabin, interpretive center, graves, historic markers, monument.

Fort Atkinson State Preserve

Fort Atkinson, (563) 425-4161.

Active 1840-1849. Reconstructed fort, museum.

Fort Dodge Museum & Frontier Village, Fort Dodge, (515) 573-4231. Active 1850-1853. Reconstructed fort and museum with artifacts from Indian campaigns through AVWII.

Historic General Dodge House

Council Bluffs, (712) 322-2406.

Restored 1869 residence of Civil War engineer general and railroad builder Grenville M. Dodge.

Old Fort Madison

Fort Madison, (319)372-6318.

First military post on upper Mississippi River, 1808-1813. Attacked repeatedly by Indians. Reconstructed fort with 10 furnished structures.


Kansas Museum of History

Topeka, (785) 272-8681.

Extensive display on state's role, in Indian campaigns and Civil War, plus smaller displays on Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII, including firearms, uniforms, flags, accoutrements and home-front artifacts.

Museum of the Kansas National

Guard, Topeka, (785) 862-1020.

Features memorabilia, artifacts, documentation and equipment of Kansas National Guard from Civil War through Iraq, including weapons, dioramas, photographs and vehicles on outdoor display. Extensive military research library.

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Lamed, (620) 285-6911. Protected Santa Fe Trail, 1859-1878. Nine restored original sandstone structures, visitor center, museum. Santa Fe Trail ruts nearby.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott, (620) 223-0310.

Active 1842-1853. Role in Mexican War, "Bleeding Kansas" border wars and post-Civil War West. Eleven restored and reconstructed buildings, visitor center, self-guided tours.

Fort Hays State Historic Site

Hays, (785) 625-6812.

Active 1867-1889. Household furnishings, weapons and archaeological material. Four original fort buildings, visitor center, 21 interpretive signs.

Marais des Cygnes Massacre State Historic Site (opens in june) Pleasanton, (913) 352-8890.

Site of May 1858 massacre-bloodiest single incident of Kansas-Missouri border wars. Museum in 186Os stone house. Interpretive signs.

Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site, Pleasanton, (913) 352-8890.

Site of only major Civil War battle in Kansas, October 1864. Visitor center with computerized animation of battle, walking trails on battlefield with interpretive signs.

Fort Riley Regimental Museum

Fort Riley, (785) 239-2737.

Seven rooms of exhibits covering 1917 to present. Uniforms, equipment, unit Medal of Honor recipients, simulated WWI trench and Vietnam jungle. …