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Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

  • Also Known As: Bent's Old Fort also Fort William

  • Address: CO 194
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

Castle of the Plains

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds, and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events. - NPS

Bent's Fort was the only place on the Santa Fe Trail where wagons could be repaired and supplies replenished. Typically it would take 50 to 60 days or more for ox drawn wagons to make the 600 mile journey from Missouri. It would still be another month of travel before they reached Santa Fe. - NPS


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Timeline

Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1833/00/00 Charles Bent Architect William Bent, Charles Bent and Ceran St Vrain establish a fort on the Arkansas River to trade with plains Indians and trappers.
1833/00/00 Ceran St Vrain Developer William Bent, Charles Bent and Ceran St Vrain establish a fort on the Arkansas River to trade with plains Indians and trappers.
1833/00/00 William Bent Architect William Bent, Charles Bent and Ceran St Vrain establish a fort on the Arkansas River to trade with plains Indians and trappers.
1839/00/00 Lucien Maxwell Work Lucien Maxwell works at Bent Fort
1841/00/00 Kit Carson Home Kit Carson works as a hunter at Bent's Fort in Colorado.
1846/00/00 Stephen W Kearny American Commander General Kearny's "Army of the West" uses Bent's Fort as staging during the war with Mexico.
1846/08/25 Francis Parkman Researcher Francis Parkman arrives at Bent's Fort John and is entertained by Marcellin, the Bents where in New Mexico with Stephen Kearny. Parkman returns to Independence via the Santa Fe Trail. Francis Parkman on the Oregon Trail

Data »

Particulars for Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site:
Cultural Affiliation Arapaho
Cultural Affiliation Cheyenne
Area of Significance Commerce
Area of Significance Exploration-settlement
Owner Federal
Structure Type Fortification
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Area of Significance Military
Level of Significance National
Disposition Reconstructed Property
Area of Significance Social History



US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

PLACE DETAILS
Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 66000254
Resource Type:
Owner: Federal
Architect: Bent,William; Bent,Charles
Architectural Style: No style listed
Other Certification: Additional documentation, Designated National Landmark
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
CULTURAL DETAILS
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Commerce, Military, Exploration-settlement, Social history
Applicable Criteria: Event
Criteria Consideration: Reconstructed property
Period of Significance: 1825-1849
Significant Year: c 1833, c 1849
Historic Function: Defense
Historic Sub-Function: Fortification
Current Function: Landscape
Current Sub-Function: Park

History »

William and Charles Bent, along with Ceran St Vrain, built the original fort on this site in 1833 to trade with plains Indians and trappers. The adobe fort quickly became the center of the Bent, St.Vrain Company's expanding trade empire that included Fort St Vrain to the north and Fort Adobe to the south, along with company stores in Mexico at Taos and Santa Fe. The primary trade was with the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians for buffalo robes.

For much of its 16-year history, the fort was the only major permanent white settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and the Mexican settlements. The fort provided explorers, adventurers, and the US Army a place to get needed supplies, wagon repairs, livestock, good food, water and company, rest and protection in this vast "Great American Desert." During the war with Mexico in 1846, the fort became a staging area for Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny's "Army of the West". Disasters and disease caused the fort's abandonment in 1849. Archeological excavations and original sketches, paintings and diaries were used in the fort's reconstruction in 1976. - NPS


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