Getting closer to New Mexico and the miles are flying by. Needed another distraction on a rather boring drive in SE Colorado. Interestingly enough I stopped at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site which has connections to my last stop at Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
Gaining access is quite easy – just park in the lot and walk maybe 200 yards. From a distance the fort is fairly large but doesn’t look like much beyond a large adobe-walled fortress. There is a hiking trail along the large open meadow but I heard reports of several snake sightings so I passed today. Out of view along the back of the property is the Arkansas River.
Inside the fort is much more interesting. The center is an open flat courtyard with only a cart and what looks like some type of well (or maybe a grain mill/press? not sure really). You can climb the steps to the second level and walk atop the wall which also has some rooms.
At the corners of the fort there are cannons pointing out across the open expanse. The photo shown below looks high off the ground but in reality you are probably only 10-15 feet up. Not much protection from attackers but this was mostly a peaceful trading post.
The most interesting part of this site is how they have re-created shops and scenes from the middle 1800’s when this fort was active. Here you can see a stocked general store (which I believe is also where you can start a guided tour).
There is a large blacksmith shop with lots of tools, anvils, and a forge. Honestly this was an awesome collection of specialized tools, and where other parts of this tour are more for show, I think many of these tools could be used for actual work even still today.
Same thing goes for the carpentry shop – large area, lots of lumber, and huge collection of tools.
Off in a corner of the first level is a huge Conestoga wagon straight out of Oregon Trail (minus the canopy). This was displayed as almost an afterthought but is cool to stand nearby and take in just how large this is.
Back along the first level there are some common areas including a large kitchen and eating area. This gave me flashbacks to building houses in Skyrim, pretty sweet!
Back on the second level there is a room with crafts from the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes who also migrated to this area for the opportunity to increase trading with the settlers and fort visitors.
Several larger rooms with living quarters are also on the second level. One was more formal with a bed, desk, and large stack of firewood. I can’t recall what the signs said but I believe this was meant for whomever was in charge of the fort. Not far down the row is another more open and spartan quarters with only fur mats & blankets to sleep on.
And last but not least were several very tame peacocks that didn’t really care about human presence. I found them to be more considerate than other guests who cared little about wearing facemasks. As it was around noon now it started to get busier (and hotter) which was my cue to get back on the road. Onward we go!
Lat = 38.0461426 , Long = -103.4308472 -- Show at Google Maps
Author’s Note: Due to my lazy nature and/or busy schedule, I’m posting this from the future in July 2021. Original visit date September 2, 2020 which is during the time that the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. I was travelling solo and always masked up when not outdoors and socially distanced. Sadly my trip got derailed due to close contact with infected parties and I had to bail out early (luckily I tested negative upon return). Needless to say this wasn’t my favorite trip and I’ve been putting off posting it. Anyways, enjoy it now, travel safely, and get vaccinated.