Fort Vasquez / Fort Vasquez Country

Fort Vasquez / Fort Vasquez Country (HM29E8)

Location: Platteville, CO 80651 Weld County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 11.643', W 104° 49.262'

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Fort Vasquez

As trappers and explorers, Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette
helped build the lucrative fur trade. But by 1835, when they raised
Fort Vasquez midway between Fort Laramie and Bent's Old Fort
along Trapper's Trail and went into business for themselves, the fur
industry was nearly played out. Three nearby forts competed for the
dwindling trade, and the two veteran mountain men, unable to turn a
profit, sold the post in 1841 for just $800. Failing to collect even that
sum, the new owners went bankrupt and abandoned the place in
1842. In later years a series of tenants-cavalry units, stagecoach
operators, and mail riders-occupied the structure for short periods,
but after the 1860s the only visitors to Fort Vasquez were curious
homesteaders and tourists.

In the 1930s the New Deal's Works Progress Administration rebuilt
the crumbling outer walls of Fort Vasquez. Three decades later, the
Colorado Historical Society launched an archaeological study to
reconstruct daily life inside the complex. Painstaking excavations
revealed roughly a dozen rooms around a large interior plaza.
Visiting traders kept their pack animals in wooden stalls along the
east wall, cooked and dined in a communal kitchen, warmed
themselves beside brick fireplaces, and conducted

business in large
trading rooms. Storage chambers, a smithy, and the two proprietors
living quarters completed the fort. The rubble of the old fort yielded
a wealth of buttons and beads, the currency of the fur trade-long-lost funds from forgotten transactions.

A little after five we reached the fort of Messrs. Sublette
& Vasquez. A great many free trappers are here at
present. The Fort is quite a nice place. It is built of
daubies [adobes], or Spanish bricks. The buildings are
quite durable. This is the first time I have slept under
cover for 37 days.
-E. Willard Smith, September 13, 1839

We soon came to the ruins of an old Fort, where we halted for a few moments. This is made of mud or "Dobey," the enclosure is about 100 feet square. The walls about 12 feet high. Upon two corners stand the round guard house running about five feet higher. Around the walls are "port Holes" and so made as to shoot from them in any direction. The old walls are now crumbling away.
-W D. Anthony, June 1860

Fort Vasquez Country
{Area map of historical & geographical highlights}
HM NumberHM29E8
Series This marker is part of the Colorado: History Colorado series
Year Placed1997
Placed ByThe Colorado Historical Society, Colorado Department of Transportation
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, July 16th, 2018 at 1:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 515233 N 4449310
Decimal Degrees40.19405000, -104.82103333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 11.643', W 104° 49.262'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 11' 38.58" N, 104° 49' 15.72" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)970, 303
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Port of Entry, Platteville CO 80651, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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