By Shawn Gillette
After abandoning his old post near present day La Junta in 1849, famed trader William Bent eventually moved east and built a new trading post on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River in 1853. Bent's New Fort, which played a pivotal role in shaping the American West, will be the topic of a free interpretive program presented by Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site (NHS) Saturday, April 15.
A walking trail and interpretive exhibits are located on site; however, no other visitor facilities are present. Participants should bring water and dress appropriately for weather conditions. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Inclement weather on the day of the event will cancel the program and participants with reservations will be notified.
To reach the site of Bent's New Fort, 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 1/4 mile, turning south (right) onto County Road 35.25 for 1/4 mile to the Bent's New Fort parking area.
Photo: Daniel Jenks traveled to Colorado territory in 1859 in search of gold. While there, he made this sketch of Bent's New Fort, which is one of the earliest known images of the fort. Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Dept.