Fort Uncompahgre (1828-1844) – Pronounced “un-come-paw-gray,” this non-military trading post was established in 1828 by Antoine Robidoux, an influential trader out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, near the present-day city of Delta, Colorado. 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.
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 were taken prisoners. 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 Ute warriors.
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.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated May 2018.