Archaeological Work Under Way At Bent's New Fort

Digging into the past is under way at Bent's New Fort, where archaeologists are sampling the area for artifacts dating to the mid-1800s when the fort was a trading post and later a military outpost.

The work at the fort, which is located west of Lamar, Colorado, is being conducted by Richard Carrillo of Cuartelejo HP Associates, Inc. of La Junta with the assistance of students from the Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Field School of Historic Archeology.

Bent’s New Fort was the successor to William Bent's original fort that dated to 1833 and which is remembered today at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. The new fort was constructed by Bent in the early 1850s as a trading post and freighting center for U.S. military supplies. In 1860, the site was taken over by the U.S. military for use as a commissary for the new Fort Wise, which was being built one-half-mile west of Bent’s New Fort.

The title of Fort Wise, named for the governor of Virginia, was changed to Fort Lyon after the outbreak of the Civil War. Nathaniel Lyon was the first Union general killed in the war, succumbing at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri. It was from this original Fort Lyon that troops marched in November 1864 to carry out the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.

The current archeological work is being funded with grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the NPS National Trails Office Intermountain Region, and the Colorado State Historical Fund. The Bent’s New Fort site itself is owned by Brad Semmens of Lamar and Gary McCall of Walsh.

Anyone interested in seeing the current archeological work at the site is invited to attend an Open House from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, July 11. This will be during the last week of the archeology field session.

Bent’s New Fort is located on County Road 35.25 in far eastern Bent County. To reach the site, take U.S. 50 to County Road 35, approximately 10 miles west of Lamar or 25 miles east of Las Animas. Turn south on County Road 35 for 1 mile to County Road JJ (dead end). Turn east (left) and drive ¼ mile, turning south (right) onto County Road 35.25 for ¼ mile to the Bent’s New Fort parking lot. Walk up the two-track road from the parking lot to the fort site.