Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center, Fort Garland

4.7
#85 of 277 in Museums in Colorado
Specialty Museum · Museum
Create an itinerary including Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center
Western expansion fueled the need for frontier forts. The primary purpose of these forts was to keep the peace between settlers and indigenous people.

In 1852 the U.S. government saw the need for a military presence in the San Luis Valley and built Fort Massachusetts, the area's first stronghold. It soon became clear that the location of Fort Massachusetts was not strategically practical. It was vulnerable to attack from higher ground and it was too far from the settlers it was intended to protect. Brig. Gen. John Garland issued orders for a new post to be built 6 miles south between Ute and Sangre de Cristo creeks.

The fort is built of adobe or mud bricks, the local building material at the time. Exterior walls were plastered with mud, interior walls were plastered with mud and lime. Soldiers and local adobe skilled laborers built the fort under the direction of Charles Autobees. The flat roofs were constructed using large log beams called vigas andwith wood planks on top and then covered with dirt. It was completed in June of 1858, the flag was lowered at Ft. Massachusetts and Capt. Duncan marched his men to the new site where the flag was hoisted to the top of the new flagpole.

In 1861, Colorado Volunteers were training at Fort Garland. In March of 1862, they trekked through harsh winter conditions to join the New Mexico Volunteers, and the combined forces met the Confederates at the Battle of Glorieta Pass. The Union soldiers thwarted General Sibley's efforts to bring the Civil War to the far West.

After the Civil War, from 1866 to 1867, Christopher "Kit" Carson commanded the New Mexico Volunteers at Fort Garland. Drawing on his knowledge of American Indian languages and culture, he aided Chief Ouray and other Ute leaders in teh negotiations that created a Ute Reservation.

African-American cavalry men, the famed "Buffalo Soldiers" distinguished themselves at Fort Garland between 1876 and 1879.

Fort Garland was in use for 25 years, a long time for a frontier fort. The coming of the railroad and the removal of American Indians brought Fort Garland's 25 years of service to an end in 1883.

Five of the twenty-two original buildings at Fort Garland are still standing. Since the 1990s archaeological research has been carried out at the fort to determine the footprints of the original buildings.

The museum today is run by History Colorado.

Summer Hours:

March-November

Monday-Sunday

9am- 5pm

Winter Hours:

November 1st-March 1st

Open Wednesday-Sunday.

10am - 4pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Closed: January and February.

A regional museum of History Colorado.
Using our online itinerary creator, Fort Garland attractions like Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
Source
Create a full itinerary - for free!

Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
98 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • This adobe fort, built in 1858, was a convenient stop on our way to Colorado Springs from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Five of the 22 original buildings at Fort Garland are still....  more
    This adobe fort, built in 1858, was a convenient stop on our way to Colorado Springs from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Five of the 22 original buildings at Fort Garland are still....  more »
  • Fort Garland was a frontier defense fort from 1858 to 1883. Kit Carson was one of its commandants. The fort buildings have been restored, and are full of period furnishings and some very good... 
    Fort Garland was a frontier defense fort from 1858 to 1883. Kit Carson was one of its commandants. The fort buildings have been restored, and are full of period furnishings and some very good...  more »
Google
  • Very cool Historic Site! I worked one summer for Fort Laramie NHS in Wyoming. It was supper cool to see some of the differences and a lot of the similarities between the two Forts. The guard house was the most striking difference. While not a good place to be at either Fort, Fort Garland's seemed a lot more tolerable place to be locked up. Fort Garland has a lot of artifacts on display and good historical interpretation. My favorite was seeing Kit Carson's rifle!
  • Every educational and very helpful to put what life must have been like back in the time.

Plan your trip to Fort Garland

  • Get a personalized trip
    A full day by day itinerary based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place. Everyone on the same page.