Posts Tagged 'Laporte'

From the Archive: Opening the Door to Laporte

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archives

A short while back, the Fort Collins Local History Archive received a donation of 17 scrapbooks dating from the mid 1930s to the 1950s that contain hundreds of newspaper articles pertaining to the history of Laporte, Colorado. These scrapbooks were created by local resident Ruth Hereim, who was the Laporte correspondent for the Fort Collins Express-Courier newspaper (later to become the Fort Collins Coloradoan). Most of the articles pasted in the scrapbooks’ pages were written by Ms. Hereim and provide a detailed look at a quarter-century of the goings-on in Laporte.

Ruth Hereim

A 1956 article about Mrs. Hereim featured in the Fort Collins Coloradoan mentions the scrapbooks:

“Some time a history of Laporte could be written from her scrapbooks, which included every local newspaper article relating to Laporte since 1934.

Like many older scrapbooks, this collection is in fragile condition and must be handled carefully to avoid chipping the pages or loosening the glued newspaper clippings. For this reason, along with the unique nature of the scrapbooks’ contents, the staff and volunteers of the Local History Archive plan on scanning each of the scrapbooks and placing them on the Fort Collins History Connection website. You can view the scanned 1958-1959 scrapbook and virtually “flip” through pages of Laporte history. More to come!

Where’s the Fort?

by Toby J. Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions at the Museum. Even longtime residents are sometimes hard-pressed to come up with an answer to what should be a simple question. After all, the town is called Fort Collins; so again, where’s the fort?

To answer that question, we’ll need to look at a little history. Fort Collins had its beginnings in an order signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, to establish a military camp with the purpose of protecting travelers on the Overland Trail. That order eventually fell to Lieutenant-Colonial William O. Collins, commanding officer of the Eleventh Ohio regiment attached to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Collins assigned a group of his men with the task. Under the leadership of Captain William Evans, they soon found themselves in Colorado Territory, taking over a camp that had first been established by Company B of the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and then manned by a group of soldiers from Denver.

The camp was located near the Cache la Poudre River and the stage coach line based in LaPorte. Dubbed Camp Collins, in honor of Lieutenant-Colonial Collins, the facility consisted of a few temporary buildings and sleeping quarters. The soldiers would remain at this location until June of 1864, when warm rains melted off the heavy snow that had accumulated in the mountains the previous winter. According to the journal entry of a soldier stationed at the camp, the Cache la Poudre River became a twenty-foot high wall of water, which washed away almost everything in its path.

A new order was issued to reestablish the base as a fort. Lieutenant James W. Hanna worked with local businessman, Joseph Mason to secure a new location for the fort. They decided on the property just north of Mason’s supply station, Old Grout, so called due to the large amounts of grout that seeped from between the logs of which it was mainly constructed. Old Grout stood on what is now the south-west corner of Jefferson and Linden Street, a block north of Old Town Square.

The main body of the fort was located along Linden Street, between Jefferson and the Cache la Poudre River. The fort consisted of a series of buildings, loosely connected around a central square, or parade ground, roughly three hundred feet on each side. Some of the buildings included barracks for the soldiers, quarters for the officers, mess halls, and a hospital. The medical facility was run by Doctor Timothy Smith, who encouraged Louis and Elizabeth Stone to move from Denver to the fledgling fort, to serve as host and cook for the camp’s officers. The Stone’s cabin was built by another civilian attached to the fort, Henry Clay Peterson, who also served as the fort’s gunsmith.

If the names Mason, Smith, and Peterson sound familiar; they should, as these men have been remembered with street’s named in their honor. Sadly, none of the businesses or structures that they ran remain today.  Nor do any of the other buildings that made up the fort, save one – the Auntie Stone Cabin, which now resides in the Heritage Courtyard located at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center.

So, what became of the fort? Only existing as such for three years, 1864 to 1867, the fort was decommissioned and many of the soldiers returned to their homes and families in Ohio. The structures that made up the fort were looked to by the people that lived near the property as a resource. Lumber was hard to come by on the plains, and had to be brought down from the neighboring mountains. So, the fort’s buildings were dismantled; the wood being used to construct new businesses and dwellings.

From the remains of a small, frontier fort, located near the Cache la Poudre River, a successful town has grown. Today, the property once occupied by the men of the Eleventh Ohio Division serves as the home to local businesses including the El Burrito Restaurant, which some historians believe occupies the same spot as the bakery for the old fort.

For a great collection of historic photos of Jefferson Street and other Old Town Fort Collins locations, check out the Local History Archive website’s online exhibit “Fort Collins Then and Now.”

Lakota roots in LaPorte: “This was my family”

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Check out a great article in the current edition of the North Forty News about area history and contemporary Native American connections to northern Colorado:

LaPorte visitor explores his Lakota, French roots

Second installment of the Fort Collins Memory Project

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

edward-garbuttThis week’s story from the Fort Collins Memory project comes from Ann Garbutt Ryan, whose ancestors were early immigrants to the Laporte area. Enjoy Ann’s story here, and if you missed last week’s debut story, you can find it here.


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