A Quick Video Tour Of the Museum
Hours and Admission Cost
Francisco Fort Museum
Francisco Fort Plaza with
Col. Francisco’s cottonwood tree planted in 1878
Francisco Fort Museum is a regional museum with a collection representing multiple eras. Enjoy our Native American room, an old school house, saloon, mining exhibits and more!
“Paradise enough for me”
Legend tells us that Col. John M. Francisco, upon reaching the verdant Upper Cuchara Valley in present-day Huerfano County in 1862, 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 that located in the valley.
In 1876 William Jackson Palmer’s Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company laid tracks westward through present-day Huerfano County and over La Veta Pass to the San Luis Valley. The company platted the town of La Veta next to the fort.
Over 140 years later, the fort continues to contribute to the region’s cultural identity through a museum housed within its mud-brick walls.
Francisco Fort Museum’s staff and volunteers educate schoolchildren, tourists, and locals about the region’s past through exhibits and through the structures themselves. In addition to interpreting the plaza area-which includes the original 1862 buildings-the Huerfano County Historical Society (HCHS) oversees an 1880s saloon, the Ritter School, a blacksmith shop, hornos (adobe ovens), and a mining museum.
The museum houses a textbook collection of projectile points, stone axes and other artifacts of Native Americans who inhabited the region for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of years prior to Col. Francisco’s arrival.
The fort was the area’s first post office in 1871, naming it Spanish Peaks for the two high mountains that dominate the landscape. That name recalls stories of the Spanish military expeditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century, sent from Santa Fe to expand what was once part of a global colonial empire.
The area is rich with traditions of Spain, and later Mexico, who encouraged settlement on this New World frontier by giving large expanses of territory to individuals representing individual families. Col. Francisco and Henry Daigre received permission to settle on portions of the former Vigil and St. Vrain Land Grant from the original grantees.
Visitors leave the fort with an appreciation for the region’s continuous and overlapping occupation by indigenous peoples, Spanish explorers and soldiers, Hispanic settlers, farmers, ranchers, miners, and businesspeople.
Today, Francisco Fort remains Huerfano County’s prime history education facility and an authentic tourist attraction.
306 S. Main
La Veta, CO 81055