Located in the northeastern region of Kansas, Fort Riley is situated on the Kansas River, adjacent to Junction City. This United States Army Installation covers 100,656 acres in Geary and Riley counties. The population of Fort Riley is approximately 25,000. Fort Riley is known for its exceptional training, rich history, and extensive recreational opportunities and activities.
Located on post at Fort Riley are many museums, including the U.S. Cavalry Museum. The museum houses an abundant collection which details the history of the horse soldier from the Revolutionary War to 1950, when the branch was deactivated. The 1st Infantry Division Museum tells the history of the 1st Infantry Division from 1917 to the present. The Custer House is furnished with period pieces from the 19th century and relates the history of Army families from this period.
The site of Fort Riley was chosen in 1852. Because of its close location to the proximity to the geographical center of the United States, the area first became known as Camp Center. The name was changed in 1853 to Fort Riley, in honor of Major General Bennett C. Riley who had led the first military escort along the SantaFe Trail.
Three companies of the 6th infantry began construction of temporary quarters at the camp in the spring of the following year. The post's purpose was to protect the movement of people and trade over the Oregon-California and Santa Fe trails. After the Civil War, Fort Riley became a major United States Calvary post and school for cavalry tactics and practice.
Most of the buildings at Fort Riley were built with the native limestone of the area,many of which are still standing today. Fort Riley was well established by 1855, as more people began to move westward. Fort Riley stayed active through both world wars and still remains vibrant today.
Fort Riley offers a wide array of recreational activities. Here you can go bowling, spend the evening at the movies, relax and play a round of golf, a game of tennis,or even take a spin on the skating rink, all while being steps away from home. Other recreational features include a wood shop, ceramic studio, computer lab, and a matting and framing studio. There are also four fitness centers located at Fort Riley. They offer racquetball, weightlifting, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, boxing, and aerobic classes. Near Junction City is where you will find the largest lake in Kansas, Milford Lake. This sportsman's paradise offers fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, hunting, camping, and other outdoor sports.
Fort Riley offers many attractions. Come take a gander at the First Infantry Division Museum, The U.S. Calvary Museum, or Polk Hall. There is something to entertain everyone, all while learning about Fort Riley's rich history.
Constructed in 1855 of native limestone, the Custer House reflects Fort Riley's earliest history and authentically depicts military home life on the western frontier during the Indian Wars Period.
It is largely unchanged from its original design and furnished with period furniture from the 1880 through the 1890's. It is believed that General and Mrs. Custer occupied the sister-set of quarters (#21) while stationed here in 1866. The Custer House is open to the public for visitation, though limited on days and hours, and guided tours are provided by members of the Fort Riley Historical Society.
It was here that the struggle for freedom began in the Kansas Territory when the first territorial legislature convened in July 1855. As the struggle to determine if Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state raged across the newly formed territory, it was at the 1st Territorial Capitol that the fight for freedom for all persons in the Kansas territory began. Some would say the 1st Territorial Capitol is really where the Civil War began. Now located on Fort Riley, the capitol was originally built in the town of Pawnee.
Polk Hall was originally known as West Riding Hall. The building was completed in 1908 and served until after World War II as one of two indoor riding halls. Polk Hall was named in honor of General James H. Polk who became the Chief of Tactics at the Ground General School, Fort Riley, following World War II.
Dedicated during the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the 1st infantry Division in 1992, the museum displays exhibits of the division's history from 1917 to the present.
The U.S. Cavalry Museum building was constructed in 1854 and used for almost thirty years as the Post Hospital. When Fort Riley's mission changed in 1889 from a frontier to a school post, the building was remodeled and became post headquarters. A new front entrance and bell tower were then added. The building continued as headquarters until 1948. In 1957 it became the home of the Fort Riley Museum which in turn became the U.S. Cavalry Museum five years later. The museum exhibit displays the rich history of the American mounted horse soldier from the Revolutionary War till Operation Desert Storm. Here you will find in the Museum's collection uniforms, weapons equipment and other memorabilia.
The Old Trooper has become a symbol at Fort Riley of the proud heritage of the Horse Cavalry. It is modeled after a drawing of "Old Bill," which was the cavalry soldier drawn by famous western artist, Frederic Remington. This sketch is displayed in the Cavalry Museum's Art Gallery. At the foot of the monument is the grave of "Chief," the last cavalry horse to be carried on Army rolls. who died in 1968. He is interred upright in a special casket constructed by the Post Engineers that allowed him to be buried in this manner.