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Colorado Forts - Page 3

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El Pueblo Museum, Pueblo, ColoradoFort Pueblo (1842-1854) - A non-military establishment, this trading post was also referred to as El Pueblo Fort. The post  was established in 1842 by independent traders and men who had been working at Bent's Fort. Situated about sixty miles upstream on the Arkansas River from Bent's Fort, in what is today near the downtown area of the city of Pueblo, its owners pooled their money and formed partnerships to operate the post. By primarily trading with the Ute and Apache Indians in the area, its owners thrived for more than a decade. However, after years of serving as a sanctuary for traders and thousands of dollars of goods being traded, the post's demise would come at the very hands of the tribes with whom which they had traded.


Though the Ute Indians had signed a peace treaty in 1849, as more and more settlers moved into the area, the whites brought with them diseases, encroached upon the Indians' land, and depleted the wild game, making hunting difficult.


As a result, the angry Ute Indians, along with their Jicarilla Apache allies raided settlers and villages for food. The troops at Fort Massachusetts were tasked with stopping the raids, but this would take several years.

On Christmas Eve, in 1854, the Ute and Apache, led by the Ute Chief Tierra Blanca, attacked the people in the fort in what is known as the Fort Pueblo Massacre. During a celebration at the post, the traders let in a group of Indians who they thought were friendly. However, the Indians attacked, killing 15 men and kidnapping a woman and two boys. The soldiers at Fort Massachusetts were fortified with troops from Fort Union, New Mexico to permanently subdue the Indians, who were eventually forced to cede their lands in the San Luis Valley. 

Shortly after the Fort Pueblo Massacre, the post was abandoned and other settlers soon built over it.

However, today, the El Pueblo History Museum sits near the fortís original site. The museum includes a replica of the old trading post as well as an archaeological excavation of the original 1842 El Pueblo trading post. The museum is located at 301 North Union, Pueblo, Colorado, 719-583-0453.


Siege of Fort SedgwickFort Sedgwick (1864-1871) - Originally called Camp Rankin, the post was located opposite the mouth of Lodgepole Creek about one mile upriver from present-day Julesburg. The camp was founded during the Indian uprisings in Colorado that peaked in the summer of 1864 and was responsible for protecting settlers, emigrants, and the overland route to Denver. The town of Julesburg, just to the east, was a stage and freight station. Early in 1865, the area was being heavily raided by southern Plains Indians in revenge for the Sand Creek Massacre, which had occurred in November, 1864. On January 7, 1865, a thousand Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux warriors attacked the weakly garrisoned post, but when they failed to take it, they sacked the town of Julesburg.




A few weeks later, on February 18, they again attacked Julesburg and it's few citizens fled to Fort Sedgwick and watched as their town pillaged and burned to the ground. The small military force at Fort Sedgwick was unable to prevent the burning of Julesburg and the killing 18 defenders.


No attempt was made to rebuild Julesburg, and it subsequently occupied three different sites nearby, including that of the present town. In the meantime, the military post was enlarged and renamed Fort Sedgwick, in honor of General John Sedgwick, who was killed during the Civil War. For the next several years the troops protected the Overland Trail and the meadows surrounding the post became a favorite emigrant campgrounds. During the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad across western Nebraska in 1867, troops from the post protected the construction workers from the continual threat of Indian attack. In May, 1871, the fort was abandoned by the U.S. Army. Nothing remains of the old fort today, which was situated along the South Platte River Trail, a 19 mile Colorado Scenic Byway. The site is designated by a marker, but all that's left is a field. A stone monument marks the original Julesburg site. The original flagpole from Fort Sedgwick was moved to Julesburg and is now in front of the Julesburg library. The town also features the Fort Sedgwick Museum, which interprets the history of the fort and the area.


Fort St. Vrain's Fort (1837-1848) - Built by Ceran St. Vrain, and brothers, William and Charles Bent in 1837, the fort was a non-military location that served as a trading post for the Bent, St. Vrain & Company. Located near present-day Platteville, Colorado, the fort was built much the same as in Bent's Old Fort in southeastern Colorado. the fort was a major trading post on the Platte River until it was abandoned in 1848. Later, it became the site of the first post office and first courthouse for what would become Weld County, Colorado. After it was abandoned for these purposes, it was unfortunately allowed to fall into ruins and by 1951 so little was left, the site was leveled. Today, only a monument remains to mark the site.


Fort Uncompahgre (1828-1844) - Pronounced "un-come-paw-gray," this non-military trading post was established in 1828 by Antoine Robidoux near the present-day city of Delta, Colorado. An influential trader out of Santa Fe, the post was located about two miles down from the Gunnison and Uncompahgre Rivers, Robidoux established several trails for supplying goods to Fort Uncompahgre, including the Mountain Branch of the Old Spanish Trail and Rouidoux's Cutoff that left the Santa Fe Trail near Bent's Fort. The trading post was probably little more than a few log buildings surrounded by a fence of cottonwood pickets and employed between 15 and 18 Mexican traders.


 Fort Uncompahgre

Fort Uncompahgre today, photo courtesy Malachiteís Big Hole


As remote as it was, the trading post was successful for many years. However, in the summer of 1843, hostilities broke out between the Ute tribe and Mexicans of the Santa Fe area. In September of the following year, all of the Mexican traders at the fort, with the exception of one, were killed by Ute Indians and their women taken prisoner. Only a single trapper named Calario Cortez, escaped to tell the tale. Robidoux, who wasn't present during the attack, never returned and a few years later, the post was burned by the Ute.


Today, a replica of Fort Uncompahgre has been rebuilt in Delta, Colorado. The living history museum recreates the feeling and the experience of frontier life in a trading post with interpreters clothed in period attire. The Fort Uncompahgre History Museum is located at 204 Gunnison River Drive in Delta, Colorado.


Fort Vasquez (1835-1842) - A fur trading post built by Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette in 1835 for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, it was situated along the South Platte River. After obtaining a trading license in St. Louis, Missouri from William Clark, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, they began to trade with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians in the area.

Stategically located between Fort Laramie, Wyoming to the north and Bent's Old Fort, Colorado to the south, along the Trapper's Trail, the trading post did succeeded for several years, eventually hiring many of their trapper friends including Baptiste Charbonneau and Jim Beckwourth. However, when the price and demand for beaver pelts declined, the adobe trading post was sold the firm Locke and Randolph in 1840. That firm later went bankrupt and Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette were never able to collect the entire amount of the sale. In 1842, the post was abandoned.


 Fort Vasquez, Colorado

Fort Vasquez has been rebuilt today, photo courtesy Blake20CO's Flicker photostream


By 1932, only the foundations a few feet of the exterior walls remained. Two years later, the owners of the Fort Vasquez Ranch deeded an acre of land surrounding the fort to the Weld County. In 1935-36, Work Progress Administration crews rebuilt the walls from existing bricks on the location, complete with its guard towers. Today, it operates as the Fort Vasquez Museum, located at 13412 U. S. Highway 85 in Platteville, Colorado



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2014.


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Colorado - COLORADO LEGENDSColorado Main Page


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