It was built by Lawrence residents on the crest of Mount Oread to serve as a lookout post to observe groups of men desiring to attack Lawrence. At this time, Free-State settlers and pro-slavery advocates were embroiled in a bitter war to determine whether Kansas Territory would become a free or slave state. From 1854 to 1861, when Kansas became a state, the Lawrence, Kansas area was a battleground for settlers who had come from both the northern and southern states. From this location, one could see for many miles in all directions.
It was abandoned in 1857 and destroyed during William Quantrill’s Raid of Lawrence in August 1863, when he raided the town and killed 150 to 180 residents.
In 1859 John Ingalls described the fort, writing, “[It is] a rough, irregular structure of limestone, four feet high, with embrasures for cannon on three sides.” The structure did not have a roof. Lieutieutenant Colonel Pierre St. George Cooke referred to the fort as a “small fort of rough, dry wall.”
By February 1864, the U.S. Army established another fort on Mount Oread. After the Army abandoned Mount Oread, Fort Lane stood for many years until the University of Kansas campus encroached upon it.
It was located on the east side of Mount Oread, which is now occupied by the University of Kansas University, about where Spooner Hall is on the northeast corner at 14th and Jayhawk Boulevard.