Fort Lookout, Fort St. Vrain)
(Fort St. Vrain): Bent and St.
Vrain had always extended their trade to the north through the use of
temporary trading camps equipped with wagons and based out of Bentís
Some of these trading parties are described by Richens
L Wootten, and Lewis Garrard (Reference).
However, against permanent posts constructed in the north (Fort
William in 1834 by William Sublette and Fort Vasquez by
Louis Vasquez and
Andrew Sublette in 1835) these small, mobile trading camps simply couldn't
compete. In order to
protect their northern trade, the Bent, St. Vrain & Co. would have to
construct their own permanent post. On
8, 1836, Bent,
St. Vrain and company were granted a license for construction of a trading
post on the
On the trading license this post is named
although it was commonly know as Fort George (after George Bent) by
mountain men and travelers of the time. Actual construction of the fort
didn't begin until 1837. Two other
trading forts were also constructed that year and within a very short
This map shows the locations of these forts relative to the
Range and each other.
are no contemporary drawings of
It was constructed of adobe, and was probably modeled in form and
function after Bentís Fort. Just as was done at Bentís Fort, low cost
labor for constructing
probably obtained out of Mexican Taos or
exterior of the structure measured 128 feet in the north-south direction
and 106 feet in the east-west direction.
There were two bastions, one at the southeast corner and one at the
northwest corner. The main
entrance of the post faced to the east.
Sage (in Rocky
Mountain Life) described the fort in 1842 as follows: "Twelve miles below
a large trading post kept up by Bent and St. Vrain.
Its size rather exceeds that of Fort Platte [another fort
constructed by Lancaster Lupton and operated in opposition to Fort
previously described; it is built, however, after the same fashion, as,
in fact, are all the regular trading posts in the country.
At this time, fifteen or twenty men were stationed there, under the
command of Mr. Marsalina St. Vrain."
fort was located on the
approximately six miles north of
Most of the fortís supplies were obtained by pack train and wagon
then across the prairie up from Bentís Fort, or were obtained directly
was never sufficient trade in the area to support the presence of four
forts along a fifteen mile reach of the
Platte River, and
the commercial competition was intense.
However, the goals for each of the companies establishing these
forts was different, as was the standard by which success was measured.
For Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette, as well as Lancaster Lupton,
goal was to carve out a small niche market on the plains and make a profit
from the trade therein. For
the Bent, St. Vrain & Co and the American Fur Company, the objective
was to destroy their competitors, even if it meant taken heavy losses to
secure what each considered to be its exclusive trading territory.
knowing that neither would be successful at dislodging the other without
sustaining crippling financial losses, the American Fur Co. and Bent,
St.Vrain & Co negotiated a division of the contested area in 1838.
The American Fur Company would not send trading parties south of the
while Bent & St. Vrain Company was to stay clear of the
6, 1838, the trade inventory and equipment of
abandoned. This left Bent, St.
Vrain & Co with the opposition at
Vasquez and Andrew Sublette proved to be at least relatively ineffective
at least William Sublette was less than happy with trade at the fort.
In a letter he made the comment that the traders had ďmade a
rather sinking businessĒ of the operation. In 1840 or 41 they sold the
fort and inventory to Locke and Randolph, who after a string of bad luck,
in 1842 abandoned the post without paying back their debts.
Lupton was a tenacious competitor, but eventually found he could not
continue the losses he was sustaining at
against the Bent, St.Vrain and Co. In
1844 he abandoned Fort
all of the competition cleared, the Bent, St.Vrain & Co abandoned
their fort as well, returning to their previous business model, that is
operating small, mobile trading camps out of Bentís Fort.
In 1846 when Francis Parkman traveled along this stretch of the
river he recorded that the post was abandoned and in a state of ruin.
fort was refurbished and reopened briefly in about 1850 to serve the large
numbers of immigrant settlers and gold seekers traveling along the
Although the fort was too far to the south to divert traffic from the
trail, a fair business in trading draft animals was done.
Healthy, fresh animals were exchanged for the travelers trail-worn
animals. The worn animals were
driven down to
where after a period of rest and recuperation, they were taken back up to the
trail where they were in turn exchanged for other trail-worn animals.
succeeding years, although the fort saw occasional use as a corral for
livestock, it continued to decay. In
1951 the site lost much of its historical interest and archeological value
when the property owner used a grader to level what remained of the
more information about Fort George see:
Guy L.: Four Forts of the
1982, published by the Council on
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Forts Along the South Platte