Programs & Services

Historic Forts Open up New Mexico’s Storied Past

Ruins at Fort Selden. Courtesy NM Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Affairs.

In addition to Fort Stanton, Fort Selden and Fort Sumner remain modern testimony to the involvement of many New Mexicans in the struggles and history of the United States.

Fort Selden Historic Site
1280 Fort Selden Road, Radium Springs, NM,
575.526.8911 | www.nmhistoricsites.org/fort-selden

The last stop before you embark into the Jordana del Muerto (the Valley of Death) 13 miles north of Las Cruces is the ghostly adobe ruin of Fort Selden. Built in 1865, to protect American settlers from thieves and Apache raiders, particularly those along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road to the Interior), the 1600-mile route connected Mexico City to the pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo). Fort Selden was the last stop place for vegetation and water for northbound travelers.

Fort Selden was home to several units of black troops known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The tenacity of these brave soldiers gained the fear and respect of the Apaches. Nine of the Buffalo Soldiers received the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. By 1891, the railroad had made the Camino Real obsolete and Fort Selden was abandoned.

Today Fort Selden visitors can immerse themselves into this authentic 1860s frontier fort, and hear stories of travelers, soldiers, cattle rustlers, and raiders. A visitor center offers a video, exhibits, and a self-guided tour of the fort ruins. Guided tours are offered at 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and by request during the week. Special group tours can be arranged by calling the site.

See our web site at nmhistoricsites.org for upcoming events or like us on Facebook. Bring the family, a picnic lunch and see the fort this summer!

Fort Selden Historic Site is open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday). $5. Free to NM residents on the first Sunday of each month, and to NM Seniors with ID Wednesdays. Children 16 and under are always admitted free.

Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial
3 miles east of Fort Sumner, south 3.5 miles on Billy the Kid Road
575-355-2573 | nmhistoricsites.org/bosque-redondo

Situated in the Pecos River Valley is the Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial grounds and museum — a memorial to a grim chapter in New Mexico history. Shaped like a hogan and tipi, this unique museum designed by Navajo architect David Sloan features exhibits on the Mescalero Apache and Navajo cultures and the events surrounding the Long Walk and Bosque Redondo Reservation, and an interpretive trail about the site’s tragic history.

In the 1860s, the United States Army captured an estimated 10,000 Navajos and forced them to walk 450 miles from their homeland in the Four Corners area to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. More than 8,500 Navajos and nearly 500 Mescalero Apaches were taken prisoner at Fort Sumner. Many suffered and died during the journey, more died at the reservation due to exposure, disease, and starvation.

Bosque Redondo is a moving destination to visit and reflect on the history and suffering of people forced away from their homes. The site is enhanced by memorials to the Mescalero and the Navajo, a small flock of Churro sheep as were owned by the Indians at the time and a planned peach orchard, planted with seeds from Canyon De Chelly.

Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial is open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (Closed Monday & Tuesday). Admission is free.

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