Fort Sill is first and foremost a military installation. That means visitors aren’t its priority – get ready to deal with a bit of bureaucracy and instructions that could have been translated from a foreign language but weren’t! Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful post with amazing history and well worth the time of anyone interested.
What is there to see? The original buildings date to 1869 – and some are still in use. This is the most complete fort in existence from the period of the Indian Wars on the Frontier.
Start with the Ft. Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum. There are several exhibits, including a section on Buffalo Soldiers, in the Visitors Center on the south side of the quadrangle. Down the hill is the old corral – currently undergoing restoration.
The 1875 “Old” Post Chapel is located on the northeast corner of the quad. The Commander’s House on the north is generally referred to as the “Sherman House.” Several attempts to kill visiting General William Tecumseh Sherman were made on the front porch in 1871. The Cavalry Barracks run down the west side of the quad – stop and look in the door to see what they would have looked like in the 1870s.
Across from the Old Corral, you can’t miss the fields of cannons and weaponry in front of the U.S. Army Artillery Museum which tells the story of the Artillery from the Revolution to the present day.
The Army Air Defense Artillery Museum exhibits weapons from World War I to contemporary times. Fort Sill’s museum complex is the largest military museum complex west of the Mississippi
and fourth or fifth largest in the nation.
Geronimo figures prominently in the fort’s history and a visit to the Guardhouse is a great stop for discovering the gaps between the legends and the reality of his capture and incarceration. Many visitors take a wandering route through the post to reach the Apache Cemetery where Geronimo and other important Native Americans are buried. You’ll often see tributes which have been left at Geronimo’s grave.
As you drive through the post, you’ll notice different architectural and construction styles. The Old Post buildings are native limestone. Brick and stucco buildings were constructed pre-World War I. The Spanish-style structures were built in the mid-1930s.
The Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA) is also accessible from the Fort proper. Just be sure and observe the NO TRESPASSING signs – and don’t photograph any contemporary materials.
Planning a visit? Your first step starts before you even get to the gate. On your computer, go to Visitor Control Center to check whether you need a pass to get on post. If you do not have DoD-approved identification, you’ll have to fill out Form 118a (links on the web site) and bring it with you, with photo ID to the Visitor Control Center. If it’s a busy day, you may have a bit of a wait – usually the process takes less than 10 minutes. But persevere – the post covers a broad swath of American military history and is definitely worth a visit. Be sure to ask for a map of the post — you’ll need it.