I can hear what you're thinking..."hmm, I thought she was doing National Parks, not Monuments", and that would be true, but hey, why not hit some of the National Monuments too? So I am!
On my way to Petrified Forest I stopped at Fort Union. It's not exactly just off the highway. You have to drive 8 miles north out in the "middle of nowhere". Trust me, I grew up on a ranch in the "middle of nowhere" in SD...I know "nowhere".
In this lovely valley, 3 forts were eventually built to help with supplies to the Army and as a communication link to the states. It was also strategically placed on the Santa Fe Trail and wagon trains of all sorts of immigrants and adventurers passed through Fort Union. When the first fort was built it was right after we got the region from Mexico, so it was a area in flux.
The first fort was built in 1851, the second fort in 1861, and the final fort was built in 1863. They also had the only hospital for hundreds of miles.
I found it interesting that the officers were allowed to have their wives and families but anyone less than an officer had to ask permission to marry and the only way the new wife could join her husband at the fort she had to agree to be a laundress. They actually had a row of tiny houses called 'Suds Row'. My how times have changed!
All in all, I enjoyed my visit to Fort Union standing there in the prairie envisioning the bustling life of keeping a fort running in the 1800's. The ruts from the Santa Fe Trail are still there. Imagine how ecstatic you would be if you had been traveling in a covered wagon for hundreds of miles and you crested the hill and looked down on Fort Union! I'm sure the wave of relief would be huge!
One prison cell. I'm claustrophobic; this would be the best deterrent for me not to commit a crime!
An officers home