Legends of America

Follow the links to the various pages of Legends of America

The Old West Legends of America Outhouse Madness Ghostly Legends Outlaws Old West Saloons Rocky Mountain General Store Legends Photo Store The Book Store Route 66 Native Americans The Old States - Back East

Legends of America    |    Legends General Store    |    Legends Photo Shop 


Legends Of America's Facebook PageLegends Of America's Twitter PageLegends on Pinterest

Legends Home

Site Map

What's New!!


Content Categories:

American History


Ghost Stories

Ghost Towns

Historic People

Legends & Myths

Native Americans

Old West

Photo Galleries

Route 66

Treasure Tales


   Search Our Sites

Custom Search



About Us


Article/Photo Use

Copyright Information


Facebook Page




Privacy Policy

Site Map

Writing Credits


We welcome corrections

and feedback!

Contact Us


Legends' General Store

Old West/Western

Route 66

Native American

Featured Items

Sale Items


CD's - DVD's

Nuwati Herbals


Wall Art

Custom Products

and Much More!


  Legends Of America's Rocky Mountain General Store - Cart View


Legends' Photo Prints

Legends Photo Prints and Downloads

Ghost Town Prints

Native American Prints

Old West Prints

Route 66 Prints

States, Cities & Places

Nostalgic Prints

Photo Art Prints

Jim Hinckley's America

David Fisk (Lens of Fisk)

Specials-Gift Ideas

and Much More!!

Legends Of America's Photo Print Shop - Cart View


Family Friendly Site













Old West Legends IconOLD WEST LEGENDS

Forts Across America

Bookmark and Share

The forts of the American West varied in type from military posts, to fortresses established by fur trading companies, to private enterprises built solely to protect the pioneers within.


Most often when we think of Old West forts, we imagine a high stockade type wall of sharpened logs that surround a number of buildings. Inside these walls are hardy pioneers and soldiers, valiantly defending themselves from hostile Indians on the outside. Though western films have perpetuated this idea, and sometimes forts were built in a stockade type manner, the purpose and style of forts varied widely and this "typical" scenario was the exception rather than the rule.


Contrary to the myths perpetuated by western films, most military forts of the American West were not established to protect the settlers from Indians; rather, they were built to maintain peace among the tribes, as well as between Native Americans and white emigrants.


Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island today, Kathy Weiser, July, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints

 and downloads HERE!




U.S. CavalryFurthermore, they were seldom solidly constructed stockades with numerous permanent buildings. Sometimes, they were little more than a couple of blockhouses. Other types of fortifications were constructed by traders to protect their businesses and by settlers to protect their homes.

As more and more settlers moved west in the 19th century Army posts were established on the basis of anticipated use, sometimes to keep the Indian tribes from waging war with each other and at other times, to keep white settlers from encroaching upon native lands.

It was generally only when white settlers insisted on encroaching upon native lands, especially during the many gold and silver rushes, that the Indians retaliated. Only then did the forts’ primary purpose change to protecting the settlers. As westward expansion continued, threatening the Indian's livelihood, war between the whites and Indians intensified, resulting in the push of Native Americans onto reservations. Once the Indians were placed on reservations, some forts served as Indian agencies and distribution points for annuities given to tribes under treaty agreements.

When the many trails began to open,  such as the Santa Fe Trail in the 1820’s and the Oregon Trail in the 1840’s, traders and pioneers often met with not only, opposition from the tribes, but also, by road agents interested in relieving them of their money or their goods. In response, more forts were established to protect commerce along the trails.

When establishing a new fort, the soldiers would sometimes occupy buildings already established, but more often, were required to construct the new fort from materials available in the area. In forested areas, wood was usually used; adobe in the desert, and stone, where available. The typical frontier fort consisted of officers' quarters, barracks, stables, storehouses, and headquarters buildings, grouped around a central parade ground. Most forts did not have walls surrounding them because attacks were generally unlikely.


Many army posts were referred to as "camps,” when there were only a few people assigned to the location or when the site was temporary. To be considered a "fort,” a full contingent of troops had to be permanently assigned to it. Both forts and camps were utilized by the U.S. Army during the Frontier Campaigns.

Reacting to the quickly changing needs of the vast west, the Army would set up a post and then abandon it when no longer needed.

Though it was not the original intent to establish military forts to fight the Indian Wars, this changed when the U.S. government failed to protect tribal territorial rights and uphold treaties. Increasingly upset with treaty violations and travelers, settlers, and railroad crews encroaching on their lands, the Indians were retaliating in full force by the mid-1800s


As a result the U.S. Government began a series of frontier campaigns to "tame” the Indians, force them on to reservations, and convert them to "civilized” life.


For the soldier, life was difficult and often monotonous at these many frontier outposts. The vast majority of recruits saw little or no combat and spent their time doing manual labor. Many forts were so isolated there were no nearby towns for single enlisted men to relieve the monotony or meet women. The normal "dull existence” of frontier life was too much for many of the troops and desertion rates were high.


Today, many of these Old West forts have been preserved, restored or rebuilt as monuments to our heritage and can still be seen as museums and national or state parks.



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated December, 2012.



Also See:


Haunted Forts of the American West

List of Old West Forts

Soldiers & Officers in American History


Fort El Reno, Oklahoma Commisary & Magazine

Fort El Reno, Oklahoma Commisary and Weapons Magazine, November,

2005, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints and

 downloads HERE!


Fort Verde, Arizona

Fort Verde, Arizona, April, 2007, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!




From Legends' General Store

Old West DVD's - A vast and mysterious place during the days of Westward Expansion, the Wild West if filled with tales of lawmen, outlaws, cowboys, and adventure! Check out these DVD special presentations. From Ghost Towns, to Lawmen & Outlaws, Railroads across America, Native Americans, and more, these documentary style DVD's are sure to thrill every Old West enthusiast. Made in the USA.


The Great Indian Wars: 1540 to 1890

Great Indian Wars

$9.95   Buy Product

Frontier Forts in the United States

Forts of the Frontier West

  $17.95   Buy Product

Railroads Across America, 2 Disk DVD's

Railroads Across America

  $9.95   Buy Product

The American West - 32 Hour Documentary, 8 Disks

The American West 32 hr documentary

  $29.95   Buy Product

  Ghost Towns: America's Lost World - 2 Disk Set

Ghost Towns

$9.95!    Buy Product

Old West Lawmen DVD, 6 Part Series, 2 Disk Set

Old West Lawmen

  $9.95    Buy Product

The Wild West DVD - 12 Documentary Set - 2 Disks

The Wild West

$9.95    Buy Product

Outlaws & Gunslingers - 5 Part Series in Collector's Tin, 185 minutes

Outlaws & Gunslingers

$14.95!   Buy Product


                                                            Copyright © 2003-Present, www.Legends of America.com