The sights, sounds, and smells of the 1830s and 1840s Santa Fe Trail and Bent's Fort come to life during the largest event of the year, the Santa Fe Trail Encampment!More than 65 living historians perform the work of hunters, traders, teamsters, laborers, craftsmen, and Army in the fort and at their camps in the cottonwoods on the river.While traders conduct trade with the Indians, the hunters in camp will be busy skinning and packing hides for shipment by horseback.The sound of a handsaw will be heard coming from the wagon alley as carpenters fit a new axle and wheels to a Red River cart.Meat and beans will be the main "bill of fare" for company employees unless the women decide to bake a vinegar pie or make trapper fruit.
The Army of the West's Topographical Engineers, Mormon Battalion, Missouri Volunteers, and mounted Dragoons will re-enact 3 miles of the march that took place from Fort Leavenworth to Bent's fort in July 1846.Visitors who arrive by 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning will get to see them as they ride and march in from the east.From there, they will retire to their camp where the sound of the bugle will call them to duties and drills for the remainder of the day.Bent's Fort was located next the boundary with Mexico and it was here the Army staged and prepared for the war.Most of the Army was made up of Missouri Volunteers, most dressed in civilian clothes.
Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m., the Fourth Artillery Quadrille Ensemble will play music for dancing and for your enjoyment.Norman Hughes will play a dulcimer, an instrument he is quite familiar with having produced many for sale through his company.The fort takes on unique qualities after dark and it is easy to "lose" yourself in the moment.
On Sunday June 8, the public is invited to walk along with the wagon caravan made up of the Fort's Conestoga and Dearborn wagons, period riders and the Army of the West down a 3 mile segment of the original Santa Fe Trail.The caravan will depart from Sierra Vista Overlook, 16 miles south of La Junta, Colorado, off of Highway 350 on Highway 71.The caravan will leave at 10:00 a.m. and should reach Timpas Picnic area around 12:00 noon.The National Park Service in cooperation with US Forest Service - Comanche National Grasslands will provide shuttle service from both ends of the walk.A Junior Ranger program will be available for kids to earn a Junior Ranger badge in recognition of their accomplishment. This is a great opportunity to get a taste of what it was like to traverse the plains in the 1840s.Call 719-383-5023 for further information.