Heritage

2018_JF_TrapperDays_FortLupton_090818_028_web_landing.jpg

The independent spirit of the people who have called the West “home” throughout history is visible throughout Weld County. From the people who lived in this place to the people who wrote about this place, there are many opportunities to learn and enjoy the heritage of this amazing land. 

Fort Lupton - South Platte Valley Historic Park (Lupton's Fort)

The South Platte Valley Historic Park encompasses 100 acres along the South Platte River just northwest of the town of Fort Lupton.  Included in the historic park is a visitor center, four historic structures and a large park area along the river. The South Platte Valley Historic Park is dedicated to allowing the public to experience the early settlement of the west and Colorado by preserving the site and area along the South Platte River that was the location of one of the early trade forts in the west.  Through this area the historic Trappers Trail ran between Fort Laramie in what is now Wyoming down to the Arkansas River and then along the Taos Trail to the then Mexican village of Taos. Come visit the South Platte Valley Historical Park to revisit the early settlement of the west.

Be sure to visit the South Platte Valley Historical Society webpage to learn about all the attractions and events held in this amazing park.

 

Greeley - James A. Michener Library

In 1974, American author James Michener authored the epic novel Centennial, which was set in in northern Colorado AKA Weld County (specifically Greeley and surrounding areas). Five years later, the book was adapted into a television mini-series and was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

As Amy Zimmer, Technical Services Librarian with the State Publications Library wrote, “ Michener spent a great deal of time in Colorado researching Centennial, renting an apartment in Capitol Hill and also spending much time in the northern part of the state, where the novel is set.

“Upon giving Colorado the national spotlight on prime-time TV, Centennial is considered to be one of the factors contributing to Colorado’s population boom in the 1970s.” https://www.coloradovirtuallibrary.org/resource-sharing/state-pubs-blog/the-history-behind-the-fiction-james-micheners-centennial/

Michener attended Colorado State College of Education (now the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley) from 1936-1937 and then became a Social Science educator at the school from 1936-1941. The Michener Library now houses the James A. Michener Special Collection and the Mari Michener Art Gallery.  

 

Highway 14 - Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic Byway

Northeast Colorado's Pawnee Pioneer Trails scenic and historic byway leads you through a fascinating prairie expanse. With the expansion of America into the West, explorers and settlers could hardly believe their eyes when looking upon the Great Plains. A great article about this byway can be found on the colorado.com website. Take a read, then come up and take a drive!

 

Highway 85 - Trappers' Trail

On the east side of Weld County, along Highway 85, which runs north/south from Brighton to the Colorado/Wyoming border, is part of what is known as Trappers' Trail. In the early 1800s fur traders established a series of forts along the various waterways on Colorado's Front Range where they traded various goods, including pelts. In Weld County, there were originally four fur trading forts: Lupton, Vasquez, Jackson and St. Vrain - all located along the South Platte River.

Today as you drive north on Highway 85 from the Denver metro area, you will pass Lupton's Fort on the west side of the highway, just at the north edge of the City of Fort Lupton. This fort, which was reconstructed in 2003, depicts what the fort looked like and how it operated between 1835 and 1844. Many events are held at the fort, and surrounding historic buildings, which give visitors a glimpse into life in the West in the 1800s. Learn more about this fort, the historic park and associated events by visiting the South Platte Valley Historical Society website.

As you continue north on Highway 85, you will notice a fort in the middle of the highway as you approach the town of Platteville. This is Fort Vasquez. Founded in 1835 by Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette, this fort only survived a few years. Twenty-two traders were permitted to trade at this fort as they sought buffalo hides and beaver pelts. While you visit, you may wonder while the walls of the fort are so short. The property was donated to Weld County by a local family to be a WPA project in the 1930s, which put 59 men to work rebuilding the fort. Unfortunately, they did not build it to the appropriate height, but their story adds to the rich history of this site. Learn more about Fort Vasquez on the historycolorado.org webpage.

The remaining two forts that were located in Weld County are Fort Jackson and Fort St. Vrain. Unfortunately, Fort Jackson's location and story are lost to history. Fort St. Vrain, however, is commemorated with an impressive monument located where the original fort was build. The St. Vrain Fort, which was built in 1837, was a major trading post on the Platte River until 1848. A comprehensive history of this site, including photos and directions to the monument can be found on the stvrainfort.homestead.com website. 

 

In  notice the short walls of the fort 

A well written overview of Trappers' Trail in Colorado can be found on the legendsofamerica.com webpage.