But first, on our way to visit Fort Union, we passed this drive-in movie theater which employed a unique method of keeping the grass cut between movie showings. At first I thought it was permanently closed, but the movie being advertised was a recent release.
On to Fort Union. The fort was built in 1863 near the confluence of the Mountain and Cimarron branches of the Santa Fe Trail.
From 1821 until its replacement by the railroad in 1879, the Santa Fe Trail was the 800-mile supply route from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Throughout the 1860s and 1870s. many of those supplies were unloaded and stored at Fort Union for disbursement to other forts in the southwest.
Although the supply function overshadowed that of the military, troops from Fort Union participated in campaigns against the Apache, Navajo, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Ute, and Comanche natives.
By 1891, the fort had outlived its usefulness and was abandoned.
I guess it’s not surprising that the jail is the most well-preserved building.
This was actually the third Fort Union. The first was a few miles away at the base of nearby hills and built of logs. It lasted for 10 years from 1851 to 1861.
The second was built in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War with the goal of defending against an anticipated Confederate invasion. You can see the outline of the massive earthwork fort in the foreground of the following picture.
Although it was never attacked, in March of 1862, soldiers from the fort helped turn back the Confederates at Glorieta Pass, about 50 miles to the southwest.
I’m not really a big fan of forts, but found this one to be interesting. The signs along the walking route and the exhibits and movie in the visitor center were well done and fired my imagination.