Apr 28, 2012
We headed north this morning on I-25 through the southern end of the Santa Fe National Forest and then onto the rolling terrain to the east of the mountains. After about an hour and a half of driving we arrived at Fort Union National Park. The Fort was established in 1851 to protect the Santa Fe Trail and serve as a regional headquarters and supply depot for other forts in the area. Three different forts were built on the site, each being larger and better built that the previous, the last being the largest in the southwest, with a contingent of soldiers and civilians of about 2,500. The fort played an important role in both the Civil War and the operations against the Indians. When the railroad replaced the Santa Fe Trail as the principal way of moving goods the usefulness of the fort diminished and it was abandoned by 1891. Unfortunately it fell on disrepair and was vandalized to the point where it is now mostly just foundations and chimneys, but the park service is trying to stabilize what is left, and is treating the site as an outdoor museum. One amazing part about the fort was that the original Santa Fe Trail ruts are visible crossing in front of the fort. Our next scheduled stop was the Capulin Volcano National Monument, so we continued north on I-25 and then east on U.S. Rt. 64 to the town of Capulin. The drive on I-25 was through beautiful rolling terrain with large cattle ranches. We checked into the Capulin RV Park, around 3:00, but because of a thunder storm and some high winds we decided to wait until tomorrow morning to visit the volcano.