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Colorado Forts of the Old West

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Colorado Forts


Bent's Old Fort 

Bent's New Fort

Fort Collins 

Fort Garland

Fort Logan

Fort Lyon (Fort Wise)

Fort Massachusetts

Fort Morgan

Fort Pueblo

Fort Sedgwick

Fort St. Vrain

Fort Uncompahgre

Fort Vasquez


Bent's Fort, Colorado on the Santa Fe Trail

Bent's Fort, September, 2009, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads HERE!




William BentBent's Old Fort (1833-1849) - Situated on the north bank of the Arkansas River near present-day La Junta, Colorado, 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, William Bent, had successfully run Bent's Old Fort near present-day La Junta, Colorado 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. Disillusioned, William Bent abandoned the fort, moved 38 miles down the Arkansas River, to the Big Timbers locality, a favorite Cheyenne and Arapaho campground.


Bent's New FortThere, he erected a temporary log stockade on the north bank of the Arkansas River 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.


However, Bent's new 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 called Fort Lyon, a mile southwest of Bent's 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. Bent then moved upriver to the mouth of the Purgatoire River, where he built a wooden stockade and lived until his death in 1869.


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 about 1  miles south of U.S. 50, some 8 miles west of Lamar.


Fort Collins (1864-1867) - Trappers employed by the American Fur Company first came to the Cache la Poudre Valley in 1828 and established a trading post at present-day Laporte, Colorado, some five miles northwest of where Fort Collins would later be built. The settlement of Laporte grew up around the trading post in the early 1840's and grew as it became a stopping place on the long trail through the Rocky mountains to Utah and California. Settlers in the area grew once again during the Pike's Peak gold excitement of 1859-60, making the settlement the chief town in the region.


Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins by A.G. MacGregor, 1864

In early 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel William L. Collins, commander of the Military Department of the Platte River, headquartered at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, came to the Cache la Poudre Valley in search of a location for a military post. With the objective to protect the Overland mail route that had recently located through the region, Camp Collins was established on the Cache La Poudre River, near the settlement of Laporte. However, the post was short lived, as a flood destroyed the camp in June, 1864. Soon, the post was moved several miles further down the Cache La Poudre River, at the site of the city of present-day Fort Collins. The post was originally manned by two companies of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The following year, the six square mile military reservation was renamed Fort Collins. Soon, the town of Fort Collins grew up around the post. By 1867, the dangers from Indian attacks had diminished and the fort was decommissioned. It then became an Indian Reservation until 1871. Nothing remains of the old fort today. The site was located adjacent to the present historic "Old Town" portion of the city of Fort Collins.



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