In this episode of The Two-Wheelin’ Reporter, Mitch Watson visits the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.
On a cold morning in 1868, Lt. Col. George Custer attacked a Cheyenne settlement along the Washita River. The Washita Battlefield Nation Historic Site tells the story of this attack. Open to visitors seven days a week, the site offers a chance to walk through the actual battle ground. The battlefield lies on the Black Kettle National Grasslands. Here, the natural grasses of the Great Plains are preserved.
Custer thought he was attacking a group of hostile American Indians, but he was wrong. Instead, he attacked a peaceful winter encampment. The Cheyenne would stop traveling during the winter, usually along a river. Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle chose to camp along the Washita River.
Through the summer, the Visitor Center provides guided hikes through the battlefield. The hikes inform visitors about the battlefield and explain the progress of the battle.
A good starting point for a trip to the Washita Battlefield would be the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center holds a small museum and features a short film about the battle. The museum has hands-on exhibits for kids.
The museum also examines the lifestyles of the Cheyenne and the U.S. soldiers during the American Indian Wars.
For families, the Visitor Center has set up a short trail outside of the building. The Dust and Fire trail offers activities for both kids and adults.
Along the Dust and Fire Trail is a small cottage built to relic the old settlements on the Great Plains.