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    Bent's Old Fort

    National Historic Site Colorado

Rivers and Streams

Nature and Science

Arkansas River

(Levi Castello)

The Arkansas River is an alluvial, sand-bed, perennially flowing river. The river gradient is well defined and averages about 6.7 feet per mile through the fort reach. The Arkansas meanders through large, sinuous, oxbows between bluffs, in a flood plain about a mile wide. The reconstructed fort is within the 100 year floodplain.

The river carries a large bedload of sediment and has been aggregating for the past several decades in the area between La Junta, about 8 miles upstream, and John Martin Dam, about 20 miles down stream.

The natural regime of the Arkansas River has been altered by the construction of the Pueblo Dam and Reservoir, about 75 miles upstream, in the late 1960's.

Historic accounts found in diaries and journals mention fishing on the Arkansas River at Bent's Fort. Archeological excavations of the fort's dump revealed the bones and scales of fish, toads, mollusks, snails, and turtles.

Did You Know?

pocket billiards

One of the most interesting items described as being at Bent’s Fort was “a regularly established billiard room”. Mentioned by many original visitors, the billiard table is as surprising to modern visitors as it was 160 years ago. The impressive table measures 6ft. by 12ft.