Military History Worth Visiting

From the frontier forts of our westward expansion to the modern Air Force bases of the Cold War, military museums chronicle our past while honoring the men and women who fought for our freedom.

  • The Civil War Museum, Bardstown, Kentucky, explores the War of the Western States – Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi;
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, the US Air Force Museum 300 aircraft and missiles; 937-255-3286.
  • Great Lakes Museum of Military History, Michigan City, Indiana, spanning military history from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm; 800-726-5912.
  • Rock Island Arsenal Museum, Rock Island, Illinois, the history of many eras since Fort Armstrong helped protect fur traders on the American frontier; 309-782-5021.
  • The National Museum of the Tuskegee Airmen at Historic Fort Wayne, Detroit, Michigan, is dedicated to men who fought for democracy while being denied freedoms for which they risked their lives; 313-843-8849.
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Madison, Wisconsin, exhibits Civil War to Desert Storm, each branch of the military; 608-264-6086.
  • Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minnesota, “Forts on the Frontier” exhibit describes how Minnesota’s early garrisons and forts aided in the settlement of the state; 320-632-7374.
  • The Strategic Air Command Museum, next to Mahoney State Park near Ashland, Nebraska, 4000-item permanent collection and interactive children’s gallery; 402-944-3100.
  • South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Rapid City, South Dakota, Bus tours of Ellsworth Air Force Base during the summer months allow visitors to tour a Minuteman II missile launch facility; 605-385-5188.
  • Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa, Gold Star Museum items from Iowans who served from the Civil War to the present; 515-252-4531.
  • The US Disciplinary Barracks and the Frontier Army Museum, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, focuses on the role the Army played in westward expansion; 913-684-5604.
  • The 45th Infantry Division Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, displays works of cartoonist Bill Mauldin whose Up Front series featured two infantrymen’s views of WWII; 405-424-5313.
  • As the US expanded across the Kansas plains in the 1800’s, a fort was erected each time the frontier was pushed beyond the protective reach of the last citadel.
    • Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth remain active. Fort Scott, Kansas, was established in 1842 to protect settlers on the Permanent Indian Frontier; 316-223-0310.
    • Fort Larned; 316-285-6911.
    • Fort Hayes was home to Lt. Col. George Custer and his 7th US Cavalry, as well as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, Gen Phillip Sheridan, and the 9th and 10th US cavalries, better known as the Buffalo Soldiers; 785-625-6812.

from Home & Away Magazine, AAA Wisconsin


Fun at Forts

Seeing military history is easy at Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth, both in Kansas. The forts were built to keep peace among Indian tribes and settlers heading west before Kansas was a state. Fort Leavenworth opened in 1827 and Fort Scott in 1842, both were gates to western expansion.

Eventually, there was a need to bury soldiers and cemeteries were established at each fort in 1862. These National Cemeteries offer a solemn and historic experience in American history. However, there are historic tours of nearby towns to lighten the mood. If frontier forts sound interesting, Kansas has eight and many offer living history programs and annual events. Visitwww.fortscott.com

from Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing