Thursday, June 9, 2011

This day in Fort Collins history, June 9th,  1864. What disatrous event in this day in Fort Collins history caused the structure of the new Fort and later deaths and hauntings in this Cavalry town...
Haunted History After Dark tour guide and local Ghost Whisperer, Grace, takes you through the streets of Old Town communicating directly and live with the spirits that still inhabit this special place. Have you ever wondered if a location in Fort Collins or Old Town is haunted? Grace can tell you. She has a true gift, and can tell you first-hand, the emotions and stories of those who still relive their lives in this Cavalry town. According to Grace, Old Town Fort Collins has an endless abundance of spectral beings that walk among us in Fort Collins. Have you ever experienced an encounter? Feel free to share with us. Make sure you read all of her blogs regarding her work as a psychic and ghost whisperer on our page at
Along with Grace’s talent, as a Fort Collins historian, I can provide for you the history, stories, development, booms and busts, as well as the scandals of the town. Fort Collins is quite extraordinary and I like to call it the “Jewel of the Frontier”. Boulder may have its mining history, but it was the Cavalry who was sent here in 1862, in the height of the Civil War, by President Lincoln himself, to protect all those miners and settlers moving into the area. WE have the Cavalry! WE have Chivington, and “The Captain” Allen (who suffered a grizzly death and may still haunt Old Town).(His photo is below)
We have Lt. Colonel William Oliver Collins and the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and early Native American's, Arapaho Chief’s Friday (at right) and Roman Nose who inhabited the plains we now call home as well. We walk, dine and shop on the same streets that the Blue Coats would have while they were stationed here, only 147 years later.  The military reservation in what we know as Old Town, was commissioned in August of 1864. It is why we celebrate New West Fest in the first place. That is when Lt. William Oliver Collins of the 11th Ohio Cavalry, who was originally supposed to be fighting the Civil War, came with two companies from Fort Larimie, to give his okay on the 6000 acres for a reservation, with a “fort” and parade ground located just north of Jefferson St.  The Fort was stationed there to protect all the miners, settlers, and the stage line’s coming through the area. Okay, so why is June 9th, 1864 so special in Fort Collins history? A flood! Just as our Poudre is rising today, on June 9th in 1864, an enormous rush of water coming down the Cache La Poudre washed out the original “camp” Collins, which was located in La Porte, just south of Vern’s. No deaths occurred, but the government saw an immediate need to place a more permanent “fort” in a better area. With the help of a new settler, Joe Mason (who Mason Street is named after) and a Lt. Hanna, a new site was located. Today it encompasses Jefferson Street north to the river, and to the east where Ranchway Feeds is now.
The government decided to abandon the Fort in 1867. Just two years after President Lincoln’s death. Absolutely no buildings remain of the original Fort. One structure, Auntie’s Stone’s cabin, which was located off the original fort location and was used as an Officers mess, was saved. It has a phenomenal history in Old Town, and can be toured at the Fort Collins Museum.
However, there is one structure that was located on the original Fort grounds that continues to cause a ghostly problem, even today. From 1865 to 1867, 16 deaths occurred at the Fort hospital. 16 young soldiers and cavalrymen lost their lives at that Fort hospital. They, and at least one civilian, famous in early Fort Collins history, were buried at a location south of Old Town, which at the time was desolate. Today, it is in the heart of the city where many celebrations take place. Even after some of the bodies were removed in the 1870’s to make way for residences, many still remain. And the spirits of those young soldiers and  cavalrymen refuse to leave. Learn where that location is on a walking tour with Haunted History After Dark. Come walk with the spirits who are dying to meet you! Email to reserve your spot. YOUR HAUNTED JOURNEY STARTS AT DUSK!
Historical photos are courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Center and the Poudre Library.


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