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One Place, Many Stories

~Photo courtesy of  Papa Bear~
We just returned from a long weekend in Ruidoso, New Mexico located in the Sierra Blanca mountain range.  It's a beautiful area. While there, we made a twenty mile drive to one of the most intriguing places I know... Fort Stanton.

Fort Stanton was built in 1855 to protect settlements along the Bonito River from the Mescalero Apaches who inhabited the area.  Kit Carson,  Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, Billy the Kid and the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Calvary all resided here at one time or another.  

Union soldiers occupied the fort during the early stages of the Civil War, abandoning it to Confederate forces in 1861.  The retreating soldiers tried to burn the fort but rain extinguished the fire.  The Confederates completed the destruction when they left after a month's occupation.  Fort Stanton then stood vacant for nearly a year until the New Mexican Volunteers reoccupied the fort and rebuilt it following the war.

After closure as an Army post, Fort Stanton served as Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and as a WWII internment camp for German Merchant Seaman who did much to improve the grounds.

In 1953 Fort Stanton was given to the State of New Mexico and used as a Tuberculosis Hospital.  It then it served as a state hospital for the developmentally handicapped from 1960 to 1996. Following that it was briefly used as low-security woman's prison, and then housed several rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol offenders and at-risk youth.

In 1997 Ft. Stanton was designated a State Historical Monument and Museum. Work is now ongoing to restore and  preserve several of the 88 buildings on the 240-acre site.  Much has been done since we visited the fort four years ago.  There is a wonderful Visitors Center and we were able to tour several buildings which were not previously open to the public.  The building pictured above served as officers quarters.  My favorite building is the Catholic Chapel pictured below. 

While the history of Fort Stanton is in itself fascinating, even moreso is the variety of people who occupied the fort at one time or another.  Marriages took place; children were born and attended school here. Many people also died here over the years; they are interred in the nearby cemetery.

Fort Stanton is in an isolated area with only a small two-lane highway passing by.  It is a place of quiet and great beauty, and there is a prevailing sense of peace,  yet one can almost sense the presence of many spirits who yet reside here.  I asked the museum curator who lives on the grounds along with other employees about ghost stories.  He smiled and admitted that there are some but he is not allowed to share them, nor do they permit paranormal investigators, desiring instead to attract visitors who want to learn about incredible multi-layered history of this place.  While I am curious about the spirits in residence, I have to agree - let's keep it a respectful memorial for future generations to experience.
~Photo courtesy of  Papa Bear~
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This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday here at my blog
where the prompts this week are One and Wonder
 
Tomorrowlady

11 comments:

  1. Oh, what a fantastic place with much history, a place I would love. I'm glad you got to visit.

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  2. What some tales those walls could tell. So good that it still stands and is a history book in itself.

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  3. I just this second figured out what my post is for this week! I'll be back to read and write and comment after I sleep. XO.

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  4. Very cool! Is it really dark inside the church? What a beautiful building

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  5. Great post love from Poland Gosia

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  6. Great story about the fort, and funny that you mention Billy, as I have written up a couple of perspectives on him today.

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  7. Fascinating place, and it sounds like it is worth a trip.

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  8. Oh I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. I love to visit places that are steeped in history. The echoes of by-gone times and the people who inhabited the Fort have left a spiritual mark, which you can feel when your there. I'm sure that sense of peace you feel, and the quiet beauty of the place is the outcome of the spirits (ghosts).

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  10. It may be a good thing the walls can't talk and the spirits are quiet. It does look fascinating.

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  11. I love wondering historic sites.I love the ghost stories associated with them too. Too bad they don't have a ghost walk like Charleston. Thanks for sharing.

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)