In leaving Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge (read about it here), the thoughts of visiting Fort Union National Monument had become the mission. How interconnected the landscapes and humanity had become in my mind, heart, and spirit. The geographic and geological features of the land had been great motivators for the movement of civilizations. Strong forces of Nature, with humanity now observed as an extension of the evolutionary process.
Fort Union was about a 10 mile drive off the highway. The experience of driving across slightly rolling hills with areas of relatively flat lands made for a recalling of covered wagons and horses moving slowing, steadily forward. Westward Ho! The perils of travel, simply from weather, were fearfully felt as I recalled my relatively short time of trauma in the midst of lightening, thunder, torrential rain, and hail. On the drive into the Fort, I stopped at a viewing place where the deep tracks of the wagon wheels could be observed.
A few people were present at The Fort location. The ruins of one of the buildings remained, appearing about a hundred yards way from the Visitors Center. It was a ghostly structure, standing against the elements as a testimony of the courage and fortitude of those who lived and worked at Fort Union; it was a place to protect the adventurous souls seeking a new and prosperous life in The West.
However, Fort Union was brought into being by the victory of the United States in the War with Mexico, which was won in 1848. In l851, Lt. Col. Sumner was in charge of creating a fortification in Northeastern New Mexico. Three forts were built. Victories were won over the Confederacy by forces from Fort Union after a Confederate division had great success winning victories up along the Rio Grand.
US troops from Fort Union battled the Indians for nearly 20 years and against a number of Indian Tribes. After these savage encounters, the Native Americans were placed on reservations. The Santa Fe Trail was a great “highway” for those moving west and for trade, until the Iron Horse took over. In 1878, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad took over, bringing to a close the Santa Fe Trail.
So bonded together, Humanity and Nature. Humans battling between themselves, seeking to control the riches of the land, to realize dreams of wealth and prosperity. And now, in many ways, the seeking of a new and better life, with a sense of individual freedom to do what we want to do, combined with a pursuit of happiness, finds us reliving conflicts in different ways, but with the same convictions at the heart of the matter as those pioneering spirits and military forces of he 19th century.
With a sense of thankfulness and gratitude, I then continued my forward progress westward.