Fort Vasquez was an important center for the Rocky Mountain fur trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. Native Americans brought hides and pelts to the post to exchange for blankets, kettles, whiskey, and even such items as black silk handkerchiefs and ivory combs. The fort was built by traders Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It had living quarters, a barn, storage, and trade rooms. Competition from other fur trade posts in the region forts forced Vasquez and Sublette to sell out in 1841, and over the next century the adobe structure fell into ruins. By 1937 only portions of the original walls remained. The Works Progress Administration reconstructed the fort in the late 1930’s and archaeological excavations were conducted in the 1960’s. Museum exhibits describe the fur trade, display Native American artifacts, and discuss information on such unusual topics as mountain man etiquette.
Fort Vasquez Museum is located at 13412 U.S. Route 85, one mile south of the town of Platteville, Colorado. Platteville is north of Denver.
From 1821 to 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was the main commercial route connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to the Mexican War, the trail was used by Mexican and American traders across the international boundary. In 1846, the Army of the West used the trail to invade New Mexico. After the war ended in 1848, the trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. The trail was used by stage coach lines, gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. The trail declined when the railroad reached Santa Fe in 1880. The Santa Fe National Historic Trail extends from the site of Old Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, crossing Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and the Oklahoma panhandle along the way. Numerous historic sites are found along the trail route. Some of these sites, such as Pecos National Historic Park, are managed by the National Park Service. Others are owned and managed by other Federal agencies. Many sites, however, are ‘certified’ by the National Park Service in a partnership agreement between the Park Service and a private land owner, agency, or private organization. These certified sites are open and available at the discretion of the landowners and may require prior permission before your visit. Contact the trail administrators at the address below for touring information.
Links: Santa Fe Trail National Historic Trail
Mesa Verde National Park was the first site in the National Park Service specifically established to preserve cultural artifacts. From about A.D. 600 through 1300 the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people lived in “cliff dwellings,” stone villages constructed in the sheltered alcoves of canyon walls. After 700 years of habitation, these dwellings were abandoned within the span of one or two generations. Their descendants still live in the southwest today. The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are among the best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park had a difficult fire season in the summer of 2000, but the park has reopened with no damage to the cliff dwellings or the park’s collection of artifacts.
Location Map and Directions: Click Here
Links: Mesa Verde National Park