Fort Union National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
46Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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I went to Fort Union National Monument today. I hadn't done any research before my visit and didn't know much about the site. I learned that Fort Union was built in 1851 to protect the Santa Fe Trail and some of the new territory taken from Mexico in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. It soon played an important role in the Civil War and the Indian Wars. At one time it was the largest fort west of the Mississippi. With the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s the Santa Fe Trail lots its importance and so did the fort along with it. It was eventually abandoned in 1891 after 40 years of operation.
The fort suffered from neglect for the next 65 years. There were attempts to save it starting around 1929 but they were unsuccessful until 1954 when it was declared a national monument. By then the ruins of the fort were in pretty bad shape. The National Park Service has done their best since then to stabilize the ruins but there really isn't a lot left.
I first went to the Visitor Center where I watched a movie about the monument and went through their small museum. I then took the self-guided tour of the ruins. It was a bit uncomfortable walking around with wind gusts of nearly 60 mph. The story of the fort was more interesting to me than the ruins themselves.
After touring the monument I headed back to my hotel in Raton.