08 May 2014

OPEN HOUSE Fort Uncompahgre May 17 & 18

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Finding a New Purpose for Fort Uncompahgre

Open to the Public – FREE
Date: Saturday May 17th & Sunday 18th – 10-3PM
Location: Fort Uncompahgre, Delta, CO
Hosted by: Interpretive Association of Western Colorado & the City of Delta

Robidoux’s Post Encampment – Step back in time with us as we explore the first trading post in western Colorado and learn about life 160 years ago. Fort Uncompahgre , the living history museum located at the edge of Delta’s premier Confluence Park, was originally located down stream about two miles and situated along the north branch of the Old Spanish Trail. The north branch was basically a trade route for early explorers, trappers and traders traveling from Santa Fe and Taos through San Luis Valley, west over the divide and crossing the Uncompahgre River near todays Ute Indian Museum traveling north to the Gunnison River than north to the Colorado River and on to the Uintah Basin, trading with the Utes along the way. Antoine Roubidoux understood the value of location, when he built the fur trading post in 1828.

William Bailey and a group of professional interpreters will spend Saturday, May 17th and Sunday May 18th, from 10-3pm at Fort Uncompahgre reenacting the day in a life at the Fort. The two day event is Free and will provide the public a glimpse of fur traders living at the Fort carrying out their daily tasks in the year 1840. The Ute Indians hunted beavers and other animals. They’d bring furs into the Fort and trade for goods such as cloth, needles, ribbons, blankets, metal knives and axes. Invited guests and public will meet the historical characters and experience blacksmithing, adobe work, cooking, games, and hear the hammer strike the anvil, and learn how a flintlock rifle works. William Bailey, who spearheaded the construction of Fort Uncompahgre, said he always felt the Fort had the potential to be a destination for Delta.

To Chris Miller, executive director of the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, it seems not only feasible, but logical, for Fort Uncompahgre to be repurposed as an Interpretive Center for the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail. The deep cut of remnants of the Salt Lake wagon road can still be viewed just off U.S. Highway 50 and the pull out located at Wells Gulch. The Salt Lake wagon road followed much of the original Old Spanish Trail between Delta and Grand Junction.

Miller, believes Fort Uncompahgre, owned and operated by the City of Delta, could be utilized as a visitor and interpretive center not only for the Old Spanish Trail, but also for the surrounding public lands managed by the NPS, BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The Fort would provide these agencies with a strategic location to communicate with the public about the resources, how they are managed, the different uses, safety concerns and appropriate access points,” Miller explains.

Jack Pfertsh and Jon Horn of Alpine Archaeological Consultants, Inc. operating under a contract with BLM mapped 76 miles of the trail in Colorado. Pfertsh recorded cairns located along U.S. Highway 50 between Delta and Grand Junction. “A keen eye can find these cairns and other remnants of the wagon road paralleling the highway.

In 2002, the Old Spanish Trail received designation as a National Historic Trail. For more information please call the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, 970-874-6695.