Old Fort (1833-1849) - Situated on the
north bank of the Arkansas River near present-day La Junta,
this non-military post was one of the most significant outposts on the Santa Fe
Trail. See full article HERE.
Bent's New Fort (1849-1860) - In 1849,
had successfully run Bent's
Old Fort near present-day La Junta,
for nearly two decades. However, during the Mexican-American War, his successful
trading post had been overrun by soldiers and trade suffered because the Indians
were reluctant to come near the post when so many whites were present. Other
factors, including the assassination of his brother,
Charles Bent, and a cholera
epidemic eventually caused the demise of his popular trading post.
William Bent abandoned the fort, moved 38 miles down the
Arkansas River, to the Big Timbers locality, a
favorite Cheyenne and Arapaho campground.
erected a temporary log stockade on the north bank of the
and resumed trading. In 1852-53 he replaced the stockade
with a permanent stone structure that came to be known as
Bent's New Fort. Resembling Bent's
Old Fort, but smaller, it consisted of 12 rooms
surrounding a central courtyard. It had parapets but no
bastions, and cannon were placed on the corners of the
roof. The walls were 16 feet high.
trading post was not a success, as by the time of its
founding the Indian trade was rapidly decreasing.
Emigrants, gold seekers, and increased freight traffic had
made the Arkansas River
a main-traveled highway. They felled the cottonwoods at
Big Timbers and frightened away the game.
In 1860, troops began construction of Fort Wise, later
Fort Lyon, a mile southwest of
post. He then
leased the fort to the U.S. Military, and it was then used
as the Upper Arkansas
Indian Agency and
Commissary for Fort Wise.
moved upriver to the mouth of the Purgatoire River, where
he built a wooden stockade and lived until his death in
The buildings of Bent's New Fort disintegrated many years
ago, but remains of the earthworks can still be seen. The
site, indicated by a marker, is situated on private
property in Bent County,
Colorado, on a secondary road
miles south of
U.S. 50, some 8 miles west of Lamar.