Custer Lives!

Kansas University Natural History Museum


In July 2009 I visited the Kansas University Natural History Museum in Lawrence. The museum is housed in Dyche Hall. As you approach the campus you will need to check in at a guard shack. A friendly and helpful young lady had me quickly on my way. Remember to avoid visiting on Mondays, as it's closed. There's plenty of parking a short distance from the museum. Remember your parking space number, as you will need it to pay before leaving. If you peer over the surface level parking, you can see the football practice facilities for you sports fans among us.

After walking a short distance up a slight incline I arrived out front of Dyche Hall. It's certainly an impressive building. When I see a building like this I really appreciate it. The smooth cardboard box looking buildings being built now just can't compare to the these old structures. Dyche Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After gazing on it's grandeur and scale I made my way inside. Two students were manning the desk. The cheerful ladies gave me my self-guided tour handout and got me started. The museum has a suggested contribution of five dollars for adults and three dollars for children.

Old West and Custer fans be patient, I'll get to Comanche but I want to give the rest of the museum it's due. Look up and see the amazing mosasaur fossil skeleton twisting around above you. When you go up the stairs, you can get a good up close look at the prehistoric monster. After gazing at the mosasaur I caught sight of the Panorama Gallery. Wow! An amazing array of animals preserved in a natural setting. Think Noah's Ark in a natural setting. It's several stories high and the animals are set in their appropriate 'altitude'. Many different habitats, from deep woods to snowy mountains, are represented. You can view this wonder from more than one level and I recommend doing so.

If you love dinosaurs, and I sure do, you will have a great time here. There's lots of fossils and information to absorb. One drawback is that some of the aisles are too narrow to get all of some creatures in your photo if you want a straight on shot. They have some great exhibits on the pteranodon and other flying reptiles. There are a lot water types presented also. Many of the old favorites, like the tyrannosaur and triceratops, are also presented.

There are FLOORS of animals, reptiles, birds, and more preserved to view. An albino crow was especially cool. Viewing a badger, it was difficult to realize that my wiener dog, Gracie Lee, was bred to go head first in a hole to get one. Yikes! All sizes are included from bugs to bears. Several of the animals are presented with an adversary in a lifelike encounter. Small children will like this part.

Now for Comanche, the reason for my visit. Comanche is certainly one of the most famous horses in history. Many believe Comanche was General George Armstrong Custer's steed or the only Cavalry survivor of the Little Big Horn. He was neither. When you go up the stairs to the fourth floor, veer right and you'll see Comanche in his newly refurbished form. He's in a very dark room so photo's will be difficult. There's a video display about the Little Big Horn and Comanche's history after the battle. Numerous wall displays contain information about Comanche being preserved, the Little Big Horn, his post LBH service, and the famed US 7th Cavalry. After his recent renovation, he looks great! He's wearing 7th Cavalry gear from his era. Comanche was not a very large horse but was a pretty one. He always served Captain Myles Keogh well and was revered by the US Army Cavalry. I'm certainly very happy that Kansas University still has Comanche featured prominently and presented in a top notch display. You can read about his recent restoration here.

Read the CusterLives! page about Comanche here.

The entrance to Dyche Hall.

The massive plesiosaur at the entrance.

A black bear in the Panorama Gallery.

A video history of Comanche.

The preservation of Comanche.

The Battle of The Little Big Horn.

The birth of a legend.

The face of the legendary Comanche.


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