Fort Vasquez, Colorado

Fur Trading Along The South Platte

Fort VasquezLocated on the South Platte River six miles upstream from Fort St. Vrain and about 3 miles south of the present town of Platteville, Colorado was a famous fur trading center built in 1837 by Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It was named Fort Vasquez. Situated between Fort Laramie in Wyoming and Bent's Fort along the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado, it became an important trading center for Native Americans. They brought hides and pelts to the fort in exchange for necessities, such as Hudson Bay blankets , brass kettles and pots and pans, but also for whiskey, silk handkerchiefs, and ivory combs.

Fort VasquezThe adobe fort, which was approximately 100 feet square and 12 feet tall, had living quarters, a barn, storage, and trading rooms. Competition from the other forts along the river forced Vasquez and Sublette to sell out in 1841. Soon the decline in the demand for beaver pelts brought an end to the commercial use of all the forts.

Fort VasquezIt was subsequently destroyed by Indians around 1842. With the 1859 gold rush to Colorado, traders and settlers restored part of the fort, using it for living quarters. The Overland Mail Express stages stopped there only if a passenger or shipment needed to be left off.

By the early part of the 20th century the adobe structure had fallen into ruins. Only small portions of the walls remained when the WPA began reconstruction of the fort in the late 1930's. Archaeological excavations in the 1960's unearthed artifacts as well as new information regarding the actual size and plan of the fort.

The Fort is now a museum owned by the Colorado Historical Society. It is located in the median of Highway 85 north of Fort Lupton. The site includes a visitor center which contains exhibits on the fur trade period and a well-stocked bookstore.

For additional images visit the Fort Vasquez Gallery.

Click here
For a map of Fort Vasquez, Colorado
Located at 40 11' 39"N, 104 49' 15"W

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