Leavenworth Times columnist, John Reichley, has been hosting tours of Fort Leavenworth for many years. In this Q5 he talks about the rich history and many things to see at the Fort.

Leavenworth Times columnist, John Reichley, has been hosting tours of Fort Leavenworth for many years. In this Q5 he talks about the rich history and many things to see at the Fort.

1. John, how long have you been hosting and guiding tours of Fort Leavenworth? Is the holiday season a good time for people who want to learn more about the rich history of the fort to arrange to take the tour? What do you like best about showing newcomers the living history of the fort?
I arrived at Fort Leavenworth in July 1978, immediately joined the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society, signed up to be trained as a tour guide, and was "certified" in early 1979, which makes me the senior tour guide of the fort.  There are now others, but not all are "certified."  There are so many other holiday related things to do that not many people are interested to take a tour of the fort during the holiday season.  In the summer when the new CGSC class arrives, the historical society offers a bus tour of the fort that anyone can buy a ticket for and go on. 
That is the only set tour I'm aware of.  Group tours can be arranged through the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau (cvb@firstcity.org, 758-2948), but the group has to furnish transportation. 
The CVB can arrange for a guide for $40 per tour.  From 1979 until I retired in 2005 I took all new Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps CGSC students on a bus tour of the fort to give them a feel for the history of the second- oldest military installation in the country, and oldest west of the Hudson River. 
Since retirement, no service has asked me to take its new students on a tour.  To me that is a big loss for the new students. 
For three years we took new international students, but that too stopped many years ago.  Another big loss for them in my view.       

2. What are some of the historically rich and fascinating things to see at Fort Leavenworth? What are your favorites? Are most of the tours walking tours?
The entire fort is historically rich, and has many fascinating things to see.  Must-see places are the Frontier Army Museum (closed Sunday and Monday), the Rookery, oldest house in Kansas, Sumner Loop and its haunted houses, the swale of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, Memorial Chapel, and many of the other old buildings on the fort. 
A special treat is to go inside the Lewis and Clark Building to see the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame, stained glass windows, and three cases of historical military displays. 
Quite a walk is required for that visit.  My favorites are all the above. 
None of the places other than the Lewis and Clark Building involve walking except, of course, in the fort museum. 

3. After all your experience at Fort Leavenworth, do you still find out things you didn’t know about this famous post?
Having been here studying the fort since 1978 there are probably not  too many things I'm not aware of. 
A problem is sorting out fact from fiction, as many stories have evolved about the history of the fort that cannot be verified by facts. 
As I tell visitors on my tour buses, "My job is to tell you all I can within the time limit of the tour, both fact and fiction.  Your job is to sort out the difference." 
Most do a pretty good job of sorting. 
And I must say I have no doubt there are historical events that happened at the fort that I'm not aware of. 
Always ready to learn.

4. Who are the most famous military leaders who have lived on the post and attended CGSC?
There have been too many famous military leaders who have lived at or visited the fort to begin to list.
It is hard to think of a 19th or 20th century military leader who was not at the fort. 
An interesting historical fact is that of the five five-star generals in Army history, one was not a graduate of CGSC. 
On my tours I have tourists guess which one. 
Very few can name all five of the generals, much less name the one non-graduate. 
And a lot of civilians have visited, including John J. Audubon, Horace Greeley, who said "Go West young man," then took his own advice, Abraham Lincoln (two items in the fort museum are about him), John Wilkes Booth, Carry Nation, and on and on. 
Tour buses pass houses where MacArthur, Ike, Sheridan, Colin Powell, and many others lived.  Patton's house burned down, but the tour does not go by where it was anyway. 
I can point out Hap Arnold's old quarters, but hardly anyone knows who he was.

5. What are some of the scary stories about the fort’s hauntings? How can people find out more about the tours and sign up?
Bus tours  pass several of the fort's eight haunted houses. 
A good place to start learning about the haunted houses is to buy a book about them in the gift shop in the fort museum. 
There are two books, one I wrote and another one, and I encourage interested folks to buy both as there are differences. 
And the money goes to support the museum, so splurge. 
There are no scheduled tours of the haunted houses except the two Saturdays before Halloween. 
The Friends of the Frontier Army Museum run a two-night haunted walkabout and bus tour as a fundraiser for the museum, and does it ever raise funds for the good cause. 
That tour is over for this year, but watch the Leavenworth Times (my column) and the Lamp for information about the popular event next October. 
One doesn't have to sign up, one just has to buy a ticket. 
The two nights are among the most popular nights of the year at the fort, and more fun and entertaining than scary. 
But then, my caution is to sleep well the night before one goes on the tour, as we are talking ghosts here. 
The CVB can provide information about haunted tours as they draw near next October.

— Rimsie McConiga