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Fort Larned was established in 1859 on the vast prairie in western Kansas near the midpoint of the Santa Fe Trail. As the major route of trade between Missouri and Santa Fe, there was an almost constant succession of freight caravans along the Trail. Troops stationed at Fort Larned and several other military posts along the Trail protected mail coaches, freighters and other Trail traffic. As the site of an Indian Agency, Fort Larned also was instrumental in maintaining friendly relations with Plains Indians by distributing annuities promised to them by treaties.