Francisco Fort Museum

Colonel John M. Francisco founded a trading post at the foot of the Spanish Peaks in Colorado Territory in 1862, around which the small town of La Veta grew. Legend tells us that upon reaching the verdant Upper Cuchara Valley in present-day Huerfano County, he declared, “This is paradise enough for me,” and settled down.

To ward off potential attacks by Native Americans and to encourage commerce, he and his French-Canadian partner, Henry Daigre, built a four-sided adobe fort with a central plaza. The fort became the social and commercial hub for Francisco, Daigre, and a small community of farmers and ranchers who settled in the valley. Over time, the fort would also serve as a hotel, post office, storehouse, and private home.

Francisco Fort still stands—the last surviving original adobe fort in the state—and is now home to the Francisco Fort Museum, Huerfano County’s prime historical education facility.

The Francisco Fort Museum houses artifacts representing multiple eras of Huerfano County’s history, including American, Spanish settler, and pioneer artifacts. More specifically, visitors to the museum will view weapons, wagons, saddles, clothing, a one-room schoolhouse, and a saloon from Old La Veta’s Main Street containing the bullet-scarred bar owned by Bob Ford after he shot Jesse James.

Cool Fact: The Francisco Fort Museum houses the largest collection of projectile points in the U.S.

Francisco Fort Museum staff and volunteers educate schoolchildren, tourists, and locals about the region’s past through exhibits and the structure itself. In addition to interpreting the plaza area, which includes the original 1862 buildings, the Huerfano County Historical Society oversees a 1880s saloon, the Ritter School, a blacksmith shop, hornos (adobe ovens), and a mining museum.

Visitors leave the Francisco Fort Museum with an appreciation for the region’s continuous and overlapping occupation by indigenous peoples, Spanish explorers, soldiers, Hispanic settlers, farmers, ranchers, miners, and businesspeople.

The museum is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.