FORT LUPTON, Colo. (CBS4) – The Tallow River, which is was it was called by the Arapahoe and Cheyenne Indians before white settlers began traveling west, is now known as the South Platte River. A series of trading posts sprang up along the banks and one of those forts has been resurrected.
Much as the original structure did way back in 1836, the new Fort Lupton rises, log by log, near the banks of the South Platte River. Located on the “Trappers Trail” between Santa Fe and Laramie, Fort Lupton attracted to its walls a cauldron of native people and mountain men, traders, beaver pelts for guns and knives, buffalo hides for pots, and pans and beads.
“A person coming out here could make enough money in one summer to go back east and buy a farm. So there was opportunity out here and they saw it,” John Everson said.
Modern-day volunteer craftsmen pour their talents into the re-creation of the original Fort Lupton — an adobe trading post. The South Platte Valley Historical Society is making it the centerpiece of a 100-acre history park.
Earl Harris practices one of the necessary skills from 175 years ago.
“It was one of the most important jobs in the fort, because any iron work, the black smith was called to make it,” Harris said.
“They would’ve had a woodwright, they would’ve had a blacksmith, they probably would’ve had a cooper to make barrels; maybe a wheelwright making wagon wheels, or at least repairing them,” Harris said. “They probably would’ve had about 30 or 40 people that stayed here full time.
“Pretty much all started in 1836 when Lancaster Lupton resigned as a dragoon soldier as a lieutenant and decided to build a fort here.”
By the time the Ewing family homesteaded in the 1850s, Lupton’s trading post was already history. A photograph from 1890 shows what remained of its walls. The original fort stood in a field just a stone’s throw from where the new fort rises today. Through a series of events over the next century, many of the original adobe bricks survived.
“We’re one of the very few forts in the United States that has the original adobe incorporated into the fort, which we’re very proud of,” Everson said.
Volunteers are inspired by the pioneer lives on the plains.
“We feel that we must have some help from the people that were here originally and that they appreciate what we’re doing,” Everson said.
The grand opening of the historic Fort Lupton trading post will be held Friday, Sept. 9. Get details of the festivities by calling the South Platte Valley Historical Society at (303) 857-1710, or log on to spvhs.org. Get there by following US Highway 85 north from Denver to Fort Luptoin, or take Interstate 25 to State Highway 52 and head east to the trading post. Also the grand opening of the fort will be part of the Trapper Days celebration in Fort Lupton with a mountain man rendezvous, parade and more. Call the Chamber of Commerce at (303) 857-4474, or log on to trappersday.com.