In addition, having just finished my current draft for Chapter 5 of On David’s Shoulders I've decided it’s the perfect time to share a few pertinent details and a splendid link. Chapter 5 moves my action from the vicinity of Boston to the the realm of western military forts (specifically in Colorado/Wyoming), so I’ve been studying and reading up on the subject quite a bit over the past few weeks. (Of course, I’ve seen movies and read lots of books, but I needed some heavy specifics.)
Demographics shifted and changed with such rapidity on the western frontier (every five years brought tremendous changes, let alone a decade!) that my search actually had some tricky moments. To begin, I found you can’t always go by name as not all forts were military. For example: not all military posts were stockaded, but a trader could establish an outpost, erect a stockade round it, and (correctly) refer to it as a fort—which name has often carried down on the maps today. I actually started by researching Fort Collins (north of Denver in CO), which was very briefly a fort/encampment. In the 1860’s (a decade too early for my WIP), it was declared unnecessary and dissolved, but the booming town had already taken its name, which is why it’s so big today.
So my search continued and at last I found exactly what I was hoping for (in the territory I really wanted!): Fort Russell just over the WY border (and later I think, by extension, Fort McKinney further up the stage line). Fort Russell was/is located strategically on the Union Pacific, a mile outside the territorial seat, Cheyenne; and I’ve since been able to hunt up all sorts of wonderful material—maps, diagrams, and historical details.
|(An 1880's photo from Fort Bayard in NM.)|
I first found both via this excellent compilation and since it’s so helpful I decided to share it! It’s not an exhaustive resource (as there were hundreds of forts in the old west), but with about 20 pages—touching on Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming—it makes a helpful starting place. The link is here.
(Also, don’t forget to check out my new button!)
Let me know what you think! Do you enjoy western history?
Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.
Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com