Fort Kearny was built to provide protection for settlers heading west, on the Oregon and Mormon Trails, between 1843 and 1868.
It was named after Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, of the U.S. Army. There’s been two Fort Kearny’s, one in the Nebraska City area, in eastern Nebraska, and one further west, in Kearney. Colonel Kearny first scouted eastern Nebraska, and decided the area around what is today Nebraska City should be the place to build the fort, according to “Fort Kearny.” That site decision was soon changed.
The Army began building in 1846 and construction started, when they realized they were building between the Mormon and Oregon Trails, which would not protect most settlers. So, after a few more huts were built, to house Army troops who were to winter there in 1847-1848, construction was discontinued. Before they left what was built was christened Ft. Kearny, in honor of Colonel Kearney.
In 1847 Colonel Kearny sent Lt. Daniel Woodbury west along the Platte River to find a better place to build. Lt. Woodbury recommended where the Mormon and Oregon Trails intersected, where Kearney is today, and in 1848 permission was granted and the fort built.
The completed fort was originally called Fort Childs, after a well known soldier from the Mexican-American war. After the original Fort Kearney was disbanded, though, the War Department ordered the named changed to Fort Kearny.
Fort Kearny became a well known stop for pioneers headed west. It recorded over 30,000 people stopping there during the gold rush, in 1849.
The city of Kearney is named after the fort. The spelling was supposed to be Kearny, but a writing error included the extra ‘e’, and it was left that way, says Kearney from the Beginning.
Ft Kearny history
Ft. Kearny became a busy hub for the pioneers headed west, and in 1850 the Pony Express began delivering mail.
In 1864 the Indians began hostilities against both those who settled in the area and those traveling through. Ft. Kearny soldiers began traveling with the wagon trains for protection, and those who lived in the area would seek protection at the fort, if necessary.
Fort Kearny also had provisions for wagon trains, soldiers, and those who settled in the area.
Nevertheless, in 1867 the railroad began construction, and Fort Kearny no longer had travelers to protect, so, in 1871, it was abandoned. In 1875 the buildings were torn down, and the troops transferred to Omaha.
Several years later only the cottonwood trees and the earthwork fortifications, built during the Indian hostilities in 1864, remained.
In 1928 Nebraska citizens raised enough money to buy and restore 40 acres of the original land, and in 1929 the
State of Nebraska purchased the land from them. Archaeological evacuations have found and marked all the important buildings on the site.
The State Historical Park is open all year including a visitor’s center, and modern camp facilities.
Kearney from the Beginning @ Kearney.net
Ft. Kearny @ wikipedia.org