Santa Fe Trail Outside Ft. Union

FORT UNION and the

      Isn't it strange how we consider the future to be in front of us and the past behind us?


  • COUNTY:  Mora
  • LOCATION:  8 miles north of Watrous on NM 161
  • GNIS Info & Map

      We believe that time has location. What has gone before is now somewhere "back there," but what hasn't happened yet is still on its way towards us. I'm not advocating we change the system, I'm just saying it's an interesting way to think about things. It's made even more interesting in places like Fort Union, when you may be facing foward yet you're looking directly into the past.

      Fort Union was established in 1851 to protect settlers who were crossing half the country on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort consisted of three different posts in the same area, built at different times and with different materials. It was abandoned in 1890 and exists today in remarkably good shape (especially the hospital).

      History leaves footprints in many different ways, but few seem as immediate as historic trails. The Santa Fe Trail, one of many historical trails throughout New Mexico, is, in places, still plainly visible. The Trail stretched from Independence, Missouri, to the plaza in Santa Fe. It was the Route 66 of its day. Settlers and trade caravans traveled its dusty ruts toward the promise of a new life out west. The trail divided in two in Kansas, the branches relinking near Fort Union.

     I doubt those early settlers had much on their minds other than the hardships of the life they were leading. But maybe one of them wondered, just for a moment, if someone someday would be standing where he stood, thinking about him thinking about them? I hope so, because I did the same in reverse.


(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)

Even today, the ruts of the
Santa Fe Trail can be
seen clearly.

The abandoned fort seems
even more ghostly when
covered in snow.