Protecting the Mail: 1863




La Junta, CO – Bent’s Old Fort was a trading post operated by Bent, St. Vrain, & Company as a private place of business that relied on peaceful relations with the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, Kiowa, and other Plains Nations who traded buffalo robes and livestock for the manufactured and commercial goods available at the fort. Bent’s Fort was never occupied or garrisoned by federal troops, however on numerous occasions they did pass by, often camping in the vicinity along the river.

Most people in the area are familiar with the Fur Trade story at Bent’s Old Fort, however from 1860-1875 the fort was also a home station for a series of stagecoach lines, as well as a US Post Office for much of that time too.

In 1863, the Civil War was in full swing, and the Sand Creek Massacre was over a year and a half in the future. Relations with the tribes in the area were peaceful, there was more fear of Confederates coming up to raid along the trail than of conflict with Native Americans. Come experience the fort at this time of incredible transitions, and talk to Stage Company employees and passengers, and soldiers of the 2nd Colorado Infantry. See how they lived and why they were here. Learn firsthand why protecting the mail was so important for business and morale!

The event will take place from 9am-4pm on Saturday, February 18.

9am: Fort Opens

9:30am: Mail Arrives from Fort Lyon

9:45am: Mail Call for Military

10-12pm: Visitors can observe the military, interact in the Mailroom and Stage Office, and see how a Stagecoach Station would have been set up.

1pm: Protecting the Mail – Bent’s Old Fort in the early 1860s (Ranger Program in Fort Dining Room)

2pm: Frontier Medicine in 1860s Colorado (Park Volunteer Program in Dining Room)

3pm: Infantry and Cavalry, the 2nd Colorado (Ranger Program in Fort Dining Room)

The park’s fee of $10 per adult (age 16 and older) will apply. Kids 15 and under are free. All National Park Passes are honored.  Fees will be collected at the fort entrance.

As always, visitors should be prepared for the weather.  Water, sun screen and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Depending on the temperature visitors should dress in layers.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located on Colorado Highway 194, eight miles east of La Junta or 15 miles west of Las Animas.   For more information, visit the park’s website at and click on “Plan Your Visit” and “Calendar” or or call the park at (719) 383-5010.

Filed Under: CountyEducationEventsFeaturedHistoryMedia Release


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