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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Reichley: Post tour offers chance to see military homes

  • Wow. When the snows abate and the weather is fair, things to do in the area come in droves.
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  • Wow. When the snows abate and the weather is fair, things to do in the area come in droves. Last Saturday was the post's annual spring yard sale, which brought more people than could be counted to the fort searching for bargains.
    This weekend is a doubleheader with the huge double flea market up north at Sparks and White Cloud. And for those staying in the area Saturday is the annual fort homes tour sponsored by the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum (FFAM).
    That one is a real crowd pleaser that draws hundreds of people to the fort to see how some in the military live. People on post are talked into opening their homes to hundreds of curious strangers who want to see how Army folks live.
    It is a fundraiser for the Frontier Army Museum, and raises a ton of money each year. One flyer said it is the 31st annual, but I'm not sure anyone really knows how many years it has been held.
    This year will be a "banner one" as all three general officers' quarters will be open. Quarters One, where the Combined Arms Center commander, and wearer of several other hats, lives, and it is one of the fort's prime tourist attractions.
    Quarters One is also one of the fort's famed reputed haunted houses, but that is a column for October.
    The Rookery is the oldest house in the state, built in 1834. It is definitely haunted, if dozens of former occupants are to be believed. It is a duplex, and one will be on the tour.
    There are nine houses and two other places of interest, the venerable Memorial Chapel and the Masonic Lodge. Once again I will be on shift inside the chapel giving five-minute briefings about it to those who enter. Ret. Lt. Col. Dick Wright, a former teaching team member of mine at CGSC who has written a book about the chapel, and I will be on shift every other hour.
    The date is May 4, and the hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are available in the gift shop inside the post museum, which is open Tuesday through Saturday until 4 p.m. They range in price from $13 to $15.
    The ticket is really a map that shows the location of all the buildings on the tour. There will be a free shuttle bus from the museum and the post theater to and from the visiting area, which is sort of centered in the Main Parade area and south to Quarters One.
    The bus will drop visitors at a central drop off point as I understand it, and is not intended to take visitors to all the buildings. Those who prefer to drive can do so, but parking, even on weekends, is a bit of a challenge at the fort.
    Page 2 of 2 - Those who enjoy old houses and plan to make a day of touring can stop for lunch at food vendors in Zais Park, which is across from Memorial Chapel. A flyer said other vendors would be there also, but no one I asked knew just what they will be vending. We have a mini-mystery here, so go by the park and find out.
    I haven't seen a long-range weather forecast, but it has rarely rained on homes tour day, so hopefully that trend will continue. But visitors are reminded that whether they go by bus or by private vehicle, there will still be a lot of walking to do. Comfortable shoes and clothing are a must.
    A final administrative note or two: Photography is not permitted inside any of the homes, nor is eating or drinking. And for added safety sake, strollers are not permitted inside the homes. Those in strollers would be far too young for such an event anyway.
    So if you like old buildings, especially those with a martial flavor, Saturday will be your day to visit the second oldest military post in all of America. Hope to see many of you there.
    John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.

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