Fort Stanton Historic Site
Fort Stanton is situated on 240 acres and surrounded by 25,000 acres of undeveloped BLM land in south-central New Mexico. There are 88 buildings on this historic site, some dating back to 1855. Built of local stone, the sturdy buildings have lasted to this day, but most are in great need of preservation and development. The Fort features officers' quarters and barracks, a hospital and morgue, nurses' quarters, a guardhouse, a dining hall, a chapel, a power plant and laundry, a gymnasium and pool, a fire station, horse stables and a (functioning) U.S. post office. The only preserved and renovated building at the Fort is now used as the Fort Stanton museum and administrative office. The Merchant Marine Cemetery at Fort Stanton, with rows of white crosses and a taller monument, is a dramatic site not far from the fort.
Established in 1855 as a military post to control the Mescalero Apache Indians, Fort Stanton may be one of the most intact 19th century military forts in all of America today. It is certainly one of the most impressive historic settings of any site in the southwest United States. Although the use of many military forts established during the western expansion diminished by the turn of the century, Fort Stanton continued on in its noble service to New Mexico and the nation well into the 20th century.
In1861, the Fort was abandoned to Confederate forces in the early stages of the American Civil War. The retreating forces tried to burn the fort, but a rainstorm extinguished the fire. The Confederates completed the destruction when they left after only a month's occupation. The fort returned to the Union fold in 1862, under the command of the legendary Christopher (Kit) Carson. The Fort was rebuilt after the war. During the 1880s, Black soldiers from Fort Stanton helped pursue Apache bands led by Victorio and Geronimo. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing served two tours of duty at Fort Stanton in the 1880s. After closure as an Army post the Fort served as a Merchant Marine Tuberculosis Hospital, a WWII internee camp, a training school for the mentally disabled and most recently as a low security women's prison and hosted several juvenile, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. It is currently a state monument and museum, visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year.
Hours of Operation:
Thursday through Tuesday (Site closed on Wednesday)
Grounds open 8am to 5pm
Visitor Center and Museum open 10am to 4pm
Closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Admission is free.