Fort Cedar Point

Fort Cedar Point, sits just off of I-70 about 80 miles east of Denver.  Nothing there to mark the site where the Colorado Militia had a fort there to protect early day travelers on the Smoky Hill trail and Benkeleman Cutoff.  For about 5 years Company F was garrisoned at the little prairie fort. 

At the crest of the hill is an exit off the Interstate for Cedar Point.  It is not close to the military post.  To the south down the exit road is where the railroad established the depot of Cedar Pint.  Here there were some houses built along with a RR depot.  The railroad had put in a turning wye for the steam engines that helped pushed the trains up the hill.  Elevation of Cedar Point is just over 6000 feet and is a pretty good climb for the trains.  Even with the high power of toady it is still an obstacle to deal with. 

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Today the railroad uses the siding at Cedar Point for a storage lot of surplus rolling stock.  Looking up from below it does not look like much of a climb.  The distance to the rails  is about 7 miles and an elevation gain of about 500 feet, a steep climb for trains. 

Devoid of trees, the land looks pretty empty.  Yet here the Indians roamed, hunting their buffalo and other game.  The hill is loaded with springs and there are pools of water in the area and small streams.  The Pikes Peak or Bust gold seekers traveled across this empty land on their way to the gold fields.  Here a trail from the north joined central plains trail. 

Cedar Point is the spine of the Palmer Divide, where the divide forks off to the Republican River Basin, separating from the Arkansas and Platte rivers.  The Arickaree River has its beginnings on the east face of Cedar Point from a series of springs.  It was this ribbon of water that early traveler followed as the Indians had been for years. 

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Along the banks of a small creek that tumbles down the hill is where Fort Cedar Point was located.  Here is where the Benkleman trail junctioned with the Smoky Hill Road.  Traffic on the Interstate whizz past the trees that are in the vicinity where the fort was.  Some old concrete footers have been found in the area, along with old military metal buttons and spent shell casings.  Nearby were a couple of state stops, One at Resolis and the other at River Bend, the old stop. 

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Nature has reclaimed most of these forgotten places, all within about 15 mile radius.  Old River Bend sits on the bend of the Big Sandy creek.  The railroad tracks curl around the hill and the old highway notch can be seen above the RR grade.  Here was  rough and tumble little town that did not survive.  Saloons, brothels and other establishments were a part of this little hell raining town.  Their boot hill cemetery is north of the River Bend exit.  There they were buried with boots on.  The old town is off the Kiowa exit and when crossing the tracks one can see the bend in the rails and where the town had been, now on private property. 

It is an area rich in old west lore, gunfights, Indian conflict and dreams lived out and lost.  Here were the buffalo hunters, going up into the hills camping on the Arickaree River.  Selling buffalo meat to the railroad, shipping the hides to the east.  Sheep roamed the hillsides, cattlemen wanted the grass land free of sheep.  The Indians lived in the woods of the Cedar Breaks, hiding from the reservation life. 

Today, trains still click on the iron rails and the cars fly by on the Interstate.  The high elevation creates nasty storms in the winter and spring.  Snow drifts of the land, burying the concrete slab in glazed white, closing the high speed roadway.  Baseball hail pummels the land in the spring and the uplift of the hills generates violence in the clouds, blasting the wind turbines with lightening.  It is a harsh land and for that reason few people live on it. 


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