Far West Hosts Sites from Frontier Warfare

By Hanson, Shannon | VFW Magazine, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Far West Hosts Sites from Frontier Warfare


Hanson, Shannon, VFW Magazine


TRIP 3: Rocky Mountains/Western Plains

Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming

Mention these six states and military history means one thing: the Western Indian campaigns immortalized by Hollywood. But in real life, the battles fought in this harsh terrain were far from glamorous.

National and state parks have preserved some of the better-known battlegrounds with extensive restoration projects. Most sites, however, offer small museums and interpretive markers that invite visitors to use their imaginations and take in the surrounding natural scenery.

Editor's Note: be sure to let us know if we missed any of your favorite sites.

COLORADO

Colorado History Museum, Denver, (303) 866-3682.

One military display covers the 10th Mountain Division in WWII.

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, La Junta, (719)383-5010.

Served as center for trade with Plains Indians and trappers, 1833-1849. Staging base for Col. Stephen Kearny's Army of the West during Mexican War, 1846-48. Reconstructed fort.

3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Museum, Fort Carson, (719) 526-1404.

Covers history of regiment, 1846-present. Exhibits include weapons, uniforms, military equipment, personal memorabilia and equipment captured from WWII and Persian Gulf War battlefields. Collection of authentic regimental standards is one of most comprehensive and best-preserved in the Army museum system.

Beecher Island Battlefield Yuma County (near Wray), (970) 332-5063.

Site of September 1868 battle between Col. George Forsyth's Scouts and Plains Indians. Monument, interpretive markers.

Fort Garland Museum, Fort Garland, (719) 379-3512.

Adobe post established in 1858 to protect settlers in San Luis Valley. Last command of Col. Kit Carson. Museum exhibits include Carson's life and black troops during Indian wars. Restored fort, museum. Summers only.

Fort Sedgwick Museum, Julesburg, (970) 474-2061.

Fort protected settlers, overland route · to Denver, 1864-71. Attacked by southern Plains Indians in January 1865. Museum interprets fort's history.

Summit Springs Battlefield, near Atwood, (970) 522-3895.

Site of July 1869 battle between 5th Cavalry and Cheyenne Indians. Last Plains Indian battle in Colorado. Relics from battle at Overland Trail Museum in Sterling. Two monuments, two markers.

Milk Creek Battlefield, Meeker, (970) 878-9982.

Site of 1879 battle between Maj. Thomas Thornburgh's troops and Ute Indians in which Thornburgh was killed. Two monuments.

United States Military Historical Museum, Fort Morgan, (970) 867-5520.

Museum's 6,000 square feet cover Revolutionary through Persian Gulf wars. New 5,000 sq. ft. addition houses military vehicles, including Korean War jeep and Huey helicopter. Displays include 75 life-sized mannequins with uniforms, weapons, supplies and memorabilia. Visits by appointment only.

White River Museum, Meeker, (970) 878-9982.

Exhibits include military uniforms from every branch dating back to WWI and Ute Indian uprising. Housed in original 1880 Army officer quarters.

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, Denver, (303) 360-5360.

Seventeen military aircraft and special exhibits, including WWI uniform and memorabilia collection.

IDAHO

Idaho Historical Museum, Boise, (208)334-2120.

Includes exhibits on Fort Boise and Boise Barracks (1863-1903) and changing exhibits on military history and firearms. J. Curtis Earl Memorial exhibit of military history in Old Idaho Penitentiary includes historic weapons, WWI trench and WWII dioramas.

Idaho Military History Museum, Boise, (208)422-4841.

Covers state military history, including Idaho Army National Guard involvement from Philippines War through Persian Gulf War. Features uniforms, field gear, firearms and vehicles.

Nez Perce National Historical Park, Spalding, (208) 843-2261. …

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