Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When did Fort Union become a National Monument?
A: Fort Union National Monument was congressionally authorized by Public Law 83-429 on June 28, 1954. The monument was formally established by the National Park Service on April 5, 1956. The land was donated by the Union Land and Grazing Company for the creation of the monument.
Q: How many acres are within the monument boundary?
A: The park is 721 acres and includes two units. The main unit includes the second fort, a Civil War earthwork, and the adobe building ruins of the third fort, built in 1862. An 84-acre detached unit a mile to the west of the main site encompasses a part of the historic grounds of the first Fort Union and also contains the adobe ruins and foundations of the arsenal connected with the third fort.
Q: At its largest strength, what was the number of men stationed at Fort Union?
A: The highest number of enlisted troops was 1,660, recorded on September, 1861.
Q: Did the post have a cemetery?
A: The cemetery serving the garrisons of the three forts stood about one and one-fourth miles northwest of the post near the bluffs north of the arsenal grounds. In 1892, after Fort Union was abandoned, 286 remains were disinterred from the cemetery for reburial in the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, in Kansas.
Q: Was there a palisade or wall surrounding the fort?
A: No, Fort Union was so large that a wall was not necessary. With the amount of men stationed at the post, and the number of men employed by the depot, it would not have been feasible for anyone to attack.
Q: Were there any battles fought at Fort Union?
A: No. However, throughout its forty year history, the soldiers at Fort Union engaged in numerous campaigns against American Indians throughout the Midwest and Southwest. One of the more widely known battles that Fort Union soldiers were involved in was the Civil War battle against Confederate forces at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico in 1862.
Q: How did the fort get their water?
A: Several wells scattered throughout the fort provided water to the entire garrison. The well located in the Mechanic's Corral was 80 ft. deep and contained 30 feet of water. A force pump located within the well, and powered by two mules raised the water to the surface. The water was pumped directly into one or two water wagons which then distributed it throughout the post. In 1869 a pipe was installed which linked the depot cistern, the well, and tanks in the transportation corral. This system provided water to the corrals and alleviated the need for the water wagon. Cisterns collected runoff from nearby buildings, and by the 1880's a plumbing system was installed.
Q: What kind of wildlife inhabit the area around Fort Union?
A: Throughout the year Fort Union is home to many species of wildlife. Visitors may see snakes, including Prairie Rattlers and Bull Snakes, a wide variety of birds, Pronghorn Antelope, Cottontail and Jack Rabbits, Coyote, Ground Squirrels, and lizards.
Q: Are there plans to restore all or some of the buildings back to their original state?
A: No, enabling legislation specifies the preservation of the remains, but not their reconstruction.
Q: What has been done to protect and preserve the remains of the structures?
A: From spring to fall every year a preservation team works to maintain 200,000 sq. feet of ruins. Ruin walls are re-enforced with support beams and re-plastered.
Did You Know?
The post band usually provided music for dances and special occasions, such as weddings, welcome and farewell parties, birthday parties, and holiday celebrations. They also performed in nearby communities such as Las Vegas and Santa Fe. Following the arrival of the railroad, they were invited to play for dances and other activities in such places as the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway resort hotel near Las Vegas during the 1880's.