Fort Vasquez Museum
Traveling back to the Wild West, two young men joined to create the first licensed trading post in Weld County, Colorado with Native Americans. Unfortunately, their business was short lived due to the approaching American Industrial Revolution. In 1842, the adobe fort was abandoned and it has since been reconstructed and paired with its own museum. Today, the property is protected under the National Register of Historic Places and holds as a proud historic symbol to the community of Weld County, CO.
Backstory and Context
Using remains left behind from the adobe fort, during the years of 1935-36, the Federal Works Progress Administration (F-WPA) worked to rebuild the Vasquez Fort back to its original foundation. The reconstruction brought to life firing ledges and guard towers similar to those that existed in the Wild West. In 1958, the Colorado Historical Society, now known as History Colorado, took over ownership of the fort for the community of Weld County. In the late ‘60s, students of Colorado State University (CSU) salvaged over 4,000 artifacts, many of which could be found in the Vasquez Fort museum that is on site. Dioramas, objects from the fur-trading route and exhibits that feature the Indians’ talents could be found in the museum, along with interactive, hands-on displays. There are guided tours visitors can partake in, as well.
Today, you will find Fort Vasquez squished between two roads on U.S. Highway 85. So, if you're ever taking that road trip along the West Valley Freeway to California, be sure to stop by this road-side historical landmark. A life-size bison was sculpted to greet the visitors of the fort in 2005 and continues to stand today. Once in the fort, you can visit the reconstructed Cheyenne tipi before shopping in the museum's store for a "native" themed souvenir.
If you or anyone you know is interested in helping out the state of Colorado, you can become a member of the fort. Being a member grants you benefits such as free admission across the state’s historical sites and museums, plus special invites to tours and events of Historical Colorado. Volunteer and internship opportunities are available, or you can support educational outreaches throughout the state of Colorado. If involvement is not what you desire, then simply stop by the fort and museum to learn about the overwhelming treasures that the community of Weld County holds so dearly to protect. Allow the history of Fort Vasquez come alive!