In the days immediately before we began our strict social distancing in March 2020, The Man got a job in southern Colorado. He was hired as a part of a very small crew remodeling a house. I drove him out there, and when the work week was over, the boss drove him all the way home. When he wasn’t working, he got to stay in a small camper on the property.
I had been so busy helping The Man get ready for his time away from home, I forgot to pack a snack for myself. By the time I got to Fort Garland, it was lunchtime and I was hungry, so I pulled into one of the town’s gas stations.
According to Wikipedia,
Fort Garland is a census-designated place (CDP) in Costilla County, Colorado, United States. The population was 433 at the 2010 census.
The town is called Fort Garland because there’s actually a fort there! The Museums of the San Luis Valley website offers some information about the fort.
Established in 1858 in southern Colorado, Fort Garland, with its garrison of over 100 men, served to protect the earliest settlers in the San Luis Valley…Fort Garland was built after Fort Massachusetts proved vulnerable. The Capote band of Utes occupied the southern end of the valley at the time of the first contact.
(If you want to know more about the history of the fort, read “The Story of Fort Garland: 1858 – 1883.”)
The actual fort in Fort Garland is now a history museum. The aforementioned Museums of the San Luis Valley website says,
…you are invited to walk the parade ground of the fort and tour the adobe buildings, which feature a re-creation of the commandant’s quarters during Kit Carson’s time. Rich in military history, Fort Garland also highlights the folk art and culture of the Hispanic community in southern Colorado.
Admission to the Fort Garland Museum is $5 for adults, $4.50 for people 65 years old and older, $3.50 for youth 6 to 16, and FREE for anyone under the age of 6. Admission is also FREE to History Colorado members.
The Fort Garland Museum’s regular hours of operation are as follows:
March 1st – October 31st, 9:00 – 5:00pm daily
November 1st – December 31st, 10:00-4:00 Wednesday – Saturday
January 1st – February 28th – CLOSED
If you want to call the museum ahead of time to make sure it is open before you head out that way, the phone number is 719-379-3512.
I did not visit the Fort Garland museum the day I passed through the area. For one thing, I did not really want to lay down $5 to look at military history, although I probably would have enjoyed learning about the “folk art and culture of the Hispanic community in southern Colorado.” Secondly, I was pretty tired of driving and really wanted to get home to rest. Third, Jerico the dog was with me, and I didn’t think it was fair to leave him in the truck while I took my good, sweet time enjoying a museum. Finally, although I (obviously) wasn’t totally practicing physical distancing at the time, I knew the less contact I had with (possibly COVID-19 infected) strangers, the better off I was. So I skipped the museum, although I do wish now I had stopped long enough to take a photo of the exterior or the sign or something.
I also skipped the post office. I really wanted to stop in to buy a roll of postcard stamps, but…COVID-19. The number of COVID-19 cases was already quite high in Colorado by then, so I decided I was better off not going into the very small post office. I did take a photo of the mural painted on the outside of the post office.
According to Waymarking.com,
Los Caminos Antiguos (“The Ancient Roads”) from the Rio Grande to Fort Garland is the best route to follow through the region of the upper Rio Grande – the northern outpost of sixteenth century Spanish territorial expansion.
I could find no indication of who painted the mural or when.
I did go into one of the gas stations to use the restroom and buy some snacks. None of the workers at the gas station were wearing masks, but of course this was in the days when the CDC was still saying we didn’t have to bother with masks unless we knew we were sick. I tried to avoid the other customers in the convenience store, and I only talked to the clerk as much as I had to in order to complete my purchase.
There’s not much more I can tell you about Fort Garland, CO. After eating my snacks and taking a few photos, I started the truck and headed home.
I took the photos in this post.