Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Post (c) Angela Raines

Fort Vasquez:

I have a passion for history, and the early history of my adopted state is a strong passion. I hope you will join me as I take a journey through the early forts in Colorado over the next few posts. One such place I visited was the site of Fort Vasquez. This one is located between Greeley and Ft. Lupton in Platteville on Highway 85. This site is not only a reconstruction of the original fort, but is also a welcome center and museum. The museum may be small, but fascinating. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about the fort and the era when this type of business/trading post was important in what was to become the state of Colorado.

With the growth and change in the fur trade industry came the business forts.  Originally the trappers, mountain men, would take their furs to St. Louis and other Eastern cities.  Then there came the rendezvous where the furs were brought to areas closer to the mountains.  Finally the forts, such as Bent's fort began to play a bigger role in the fur trade. Soon there were forts populating the eastern plains of Colorado. Ft. Vasquez was one to these.

Built by Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette in 1835 it remained in use, with different 'managers' and owners until 1842 when the structure was abandoned. Over the years it was probably shelter for travelers and other uses we may never know about. The license to operate the fort was obtained in St. Louis, MO. from William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

These business forts traded not only with the fur trappers, but the local tribes in the area. In this case Ft. Vasquez it was the Arapaho and Cheyenne. Unfortunately for the owners of this fort, it never was able to gain prominence due to the competition with other such forts along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.

During the 1960's college students spent time at the fort on an archaeological dig, It was during this time that more information about the fort came to life.
If you are ever up that way, stop by. You may see a mountain man in the fort along with some of the other people who stopped by while in the area during those early days.

Here is a link to the current site and its offerings:

Until next time. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

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Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. 
Oglala Lakota Holyman.


  1. Fascinating history, Doris/Angela! I'm a huge fan of history, too!

  2. There is nothing quite as exciting as history, is there Kristin? I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. I'm hoping to continue with other forts in Colorado in future posts. Doris

  3. Very interesting! I never realized that there were "business forts". I guess I thought the forts were established by the army to protect travelers and settlers, not as a business arrangement. So I take it there were both kinds. My little town here started with a trading post. The original post was simply a stone building--no high walls or protective areas. Just a place for the fur trappers to trade.

    1. I hadn't realized it either until I started researching and traveling. It really is fascinating. The largest and one I'll talk about later was Bent's fort. A lot of the forts here had protective walls due to conflict with Natives. It really is a rich history for me. Thanks Kathryn for the kind words. Doris