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Founded in 1827 by Colonel Henry Leavenworth, Fort Leavenworth sat atop the bluffs of the Missouri River. The past tense is used because the Missouri River later slightly changed its flow and the Fort Leavenworth facility has greatly expanded. Portions of Fort Leavenworth and the City of Leavenworth still enjoy the grand sight of the Missouri River.

In those beginning years, Fort Leavenworth provided a providing a place of respite and resupply for settlers heading west. Wagons filled with settlers tightly holding their dreams for tomorrow passed through Fort Leavenworth on the way to the Santa Fe and Oregon Trail. As the first city founded in Kansas, the City of Leavenworth became known as the 'jumping off point' for the opening to the West.

Native son Buffalo Bill Cody spent part of his youth in Leavenworth, later working in the area as a Pony Express rider and Army scout. Cody's parents are buried in Leavenworth.

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth began their work of providing for the poor and under privileged in 1854. Ten years later the Sisters opened St. John's Hospital. In 1923 the Sisters of Charity added the academic institution of Saint Mary College to Leavenworth's list of attractions.

The Veterans Administration Center, originally known as Wadsworth Old Soldiers Home, was built in 1885. The Immanuel Chapel, made famous in Ripley's 'Believe It or Not,' is located on the Veterans Administration grounds.

Leavenworth is probably nationally best known for its prisons, including the infamous "big house", the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary first opened in 1906 after an 11 year building program. The famous prison has incarcerated infamous criminals. Criminals given residency privileges in the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary include: Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert Stroud and the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Other prisons in the Leavenworth area include Fort Leavenworth's Disciplinary Barracks, Kansas State Correction Facility, Community Corporation of America (CCA), a women's prison farm and a men's prison farm.

The City of Leavenworth was chosen to be part of Kansas' Main Street Program begun in 1982. The program's purpose includes saving historical buildings and revitalization of small communities while retaining the community's culture. You can learn more about the Leavenworth Main Street program here.

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