"The immediate site of the post...opens out rapidly to the south in a beautifully undulating prairie."
Assistant Surgeon Joseph K. Barnes, describing the Fort Scott landscape in 1862.
Walk this short trail and imagine "the most magnificent prairie of the country," as the land around Fort Scott was described in 1843.
The trail passes through a small area of tallgrass prairie that the National Park Service is restoring to offer a glimpse of the prairie's former splendor. Prior to restoration, this area had become a residential neighborhood.
Length: About 1/4 mile
Time: About 15 minutes
Surface: Unpaved; uneven footing
A trail brochure identifies some of the plants found along the trail. A healthy, native tallgrass prairie can contain over 1,000 species of vascular plants; some of the more common ones can be seen here.
[Photo captions read]
Park personnel (left) maintain this area using prescribed fire. Historically, wildfires swept the tallgrass prairie, preventing the growth of trees and shrubs. For instance, Fort Scott's Meteorological Register for December 2, 1848, remarked about the "prairie burning at South at night."
In the mid-1800s the land around Fort Scott would have resembled this scene on the Konza Prairie (above) about 120 miles northwest of here in Kansas's Flint Hills.