Grasslands, Antelope, and Cannons?

The sense of being small. Like an ant on a basketball court. The feeling of being surrounded by vast plains is one I’ll never forget. I have never felt so minute. Looking in every direction yellow grass stretched out in front of me as far as I could see. Large rolling hills covered in prairie grass rose and fell in all directions. If I were to walk out there I could become lost and vanish. It would be like I never existed. I’ve read in books about the impression that this type of landscape gives people, but I could never relate. In a world that has gotten so small, I could not imagine it feeling so big. I’ve seen the desert, I’ve seen the ocean, but the prairie is what struck me.

What was I doing out there? Not getting lost that’s for sure! I was visiting Fort Union National Park. The first thing I noticed, besides the boundless landscape, was the colossal structures that made up this Civil War era Fort. I could not believe that men were able to build so many massive adobe buildings in 1862. The Fort was so large a surrounding wall was not needed.

All that is left of Officer’s Row is a string of decayed apartments where ranking officers would live with their families. In the picture below this small living space was shared by two families. When I say small, I mean tiny, like cramped apartment tiny.

Officer's Row apartment

Officer’s Row apartment

There are quite a few of these quarters in a line making up Officer’s Row.

The chimney on officer's row

A chimney on officer’s row

The privy, which is connected to one of the store houses. Fort Union was surprisingly sanitary.

The privy, which is connected to one of the store houses. Fort Union was surprisingly sanitary.

The view through the store houses.

The view through the store houses.

I wish I could impress upon you how huge these storage structures are. However, I think the only way to grasp that is by seeing them for yourself. I will say that the size is mind blowing. Remember these were made in the 1860s during the Civil War. No mechanical cranes or power tools here. Just man power and ingenuity.

The jailhouse

The jailhouse has best resisted weathering

The Ft. Union hospital.

Ft. Union hospital.

The hospital was located a short distance from the center of the fort in order to prevent the spreading of disease from the patients to the other occupants. Out of 852 officers treated only 4 died. Fort Union had the best hospital in the area.

This was my experience at Fort Union as well as some quick facts and pics. I highly recommend you take some time to visit this park. It will not be a waste of time.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Here is a quick pic of an antelope I spotted on the drive out:

2014-07-26 15.03.49

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