Another road trip. Everybody is happy about road trips. Our moms just decided to get in the car and drive, preferably south. It is winter here in Colorado. Let’s take a quick trip looking for warmer weather. We are an unusual group this trip. I, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck, my mom, Soapy’s mom and Soapy’s dog Chloe.
Chloe is part Pit Bull, part Labrador, and probably has some Dalmatian. Under her white fur, some black spots are on her skin. This is Chloe’s first long road trip. This will be her first time in a motel, first time in an elevator, and many more firsts. Heading south from Denver on I-25, we enter New Mexico, and about 100 miles further this rest area caught our attention.
We are near Fort Union and this rest area is part of Fort Union National Monument. The rest area has all the normal things, rest rooms, information maps and vending machines, but there is more.
Isn’t this a nice picnic area? We liked the overhead cover. Gives protection from snow, rain and the intense New Mexico sun. Maybe we will stop here for a picnic on another trip. We liked this wagon wheel. Part of old American history.
The Santa Fe trail passed through here. Can you imagine traveling across the desert and over mountains in a covered wagon? It was still chilly and windy here, so we did not go Fort Union this time. But mom and I have been here before, so I want to show you more about Fort Union. I, Zeb the Duck, was very young and this was one of the first trips in my blogging career. Mom, I, Zeb the Duck, and my Alaska uncle visited here in 2013.
The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location. The first was to protect the Santa Fe Trail, the second to establish a Federal presence in the territory, and the third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion. Those interested in our Civil War should visit here.
Also history of Santa Fe Trail.
Ruts from wagons on the Santa Fe Trail are visible in the hard, dry ground. The third Fort Union is the one most visited.
This fort was a large supply facility for the southwest. At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here. We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes. It was a sunny day. Pleasant for us, but rattlesnakes also like sunshine. We stayed on the path, read the signs, and did not see any snakes. About those supplies: In 1868, 44 tons of bacon were brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons. That’s a lot of bacon. Many other supplies were also delivered here.
Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds. You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day! Fort Union was abandoned in 1891. Fort Union is easy to visit, just a rather short drive from I-25. It is interesting.
If you visit, watch the film at the Visitor’s Center, and don’t miss the gift shop. More about our new road trip next time.