Fort Uncompahgre on the Old Spanish Trail is now open to the public Monday-Saturday, 8 to 5 p.m. Admission fees apply.
The fort is a replica of the trading outpost established by Antoine Robidoux in the late 1820s near the junction of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre rivers. This area was a hub for trails coming north out of the San Juan River Basin in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico, meeting the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail (a pack route traveling east and west from Santa Fe to Los Angeles). The fort remained in operation until the mid 1840s before being attacked by a band of Ute Indians. It has been speculated that the attack on Fort Uncompahgre was the result of built up Ute hostility stemming from the introduction of "Taos lightning" in the 1840s. With the decline of the beaver population in the inter-mountain west, compounded by changes in clothing styles, the days of the mountain men were numbered.
When you visit the fort in Confluence Park, you'll feel like you stepped back in time, standing in the same space where tribes and trappers exchanged furs for guns, knives, beads and other prizes of the sprawling frontier. Your history lesson begins when you get out of your car.
This year, the fort will also expand visitor information services. Due to a remodeling project, products normally obtained from the GMUG Forest headquarters on South Main Street will be relocated to the fort. Members of the public will be able to purchase permits, maps, literature and America the Beautiful passes at the new location. Information about trails, roads and campgrounds will also be available.
Fort Uncompahgre, located at 440 North Palmer Street in Delta, is operated by the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, which is looking for volunteers to serve as greeters and docents. Two options are available -- 9 a.m. to noon and noon to 4 p.m. Interested individuals are asked to call 874-8349 for additional information.