F o r t G a r l a n d
Photo Courtesy of Steve Lackey
Fort Garland was established in 1858 to protect settlers in the San Luis Valley, then part of the Territory of New Mexico. Built in a
parallelogram around the parade ground, the fort could accommodate two companies of 100 men and a handful of officers.
Over 25 years, the fort was home to a number of different companies of infantrymen, mounted riflemen and volunteers. Kit Carson and his
volunteer unit were commanded to the fort in 1866 to keep the peace and negotiate with the Utes. Regular troops returned in 1867 and Carson
and his volunteers were mustered out. Most of them returned to Taos but Kit moved to Boggsville (near today's Las Animas) and settled down
as Colorado's Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died there in 1868.
Fort Garland was abandoned as a military post in 1883, following the confinement of the Utes to reservations.
Today you can walk the parade ground of the fort and tour the adobe buildings. The Commandant's Quarters features a re-creation of the
quarters during Carson's time. Fort Garland also highlights the folk art and culture of the Hispanic community in southern Colorado.
Fort Garland is a "census-designated place" located on US 160 in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, 25 miles east of Alamosa. The
town consists of maybe 400 people settled at a crossroad. There are a few gas stations, a couple of restaurants and convenience stores and
several other businesses along the highway. The town of Blanca is 4 miles further west. The two towns share their community center and their
schools. The two towns are nearly surrounded by Forbes developments (Forbes Trinchera, Forbes Wagon Wheel, Sangre de Cristo Ranches,
The Fort Garland Museum and Visitor Center is open daily 9 AM to 5 PM, April 1 to October 31. From November 1 to March 31 it is open
Thursday through Monday, 8 AM to 4 PM. Admission is charged. For more information please call (719) 379-3512.
Note: The Friends of Fort Garland occasionally have candlelight tours of Fort Garland Museum and Stories of Manuel Lujan, the resident ghost
of Fort Garland!
To contact Jack Rudder, who leads the ghost stories and tours, his E-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghost Tours of Fort Garland!
Hosted by Sergeant Jackaroo (Jack Rudder)
(Past E-mail From 2005)
"The Friends of Fort Garland decided to give Manuel a rest this year and tried something else. We did seem to have quite a few disappointed
folks because we didn't do the Ghost Tour, so I'm sure it will be on for next year. However, I'm available and willing to meet folks at the Fort at
about any time and talk about our Ghost.
I do a lot of tours for the Fort and special programs on an as needed basis. Let me know when you'll be down and I'd be happy to meet you.
Or, we can share a few stories via e-mail."
Fort Garland Museum
29477 Highway 159
PO Box 368
Fort Garland, CO 81133
Does a ghostly sentinel guard Fort Garland?
Source of article: The Pueblo Chieftain
Sunday, October 30, 1994
About six years ago, a woman dropped by and told Mrs. Lobato she felt a presence and asked if she could `hang around personally to speak to
the ghost.' Mrs. Lobato agreed. The woman asked the ghost to write his name: `Eduardo' was the response.
FORT GARLAND -- Historic Fort Garland, once commanded by famed frontier scout Kit Carson, is guarded by a ghostly sentinel in Union garb.
From the time Josephine ``Josie" Lobato became curator of the museum, she was told about the ``ghost," but she didn't believe in it. Now she
greets it every morning and places the fort in its care every night when she leaves for the day.
Although Mrs. Lobato has never seen her permanent visitor, she is not about to discount the possibility that her fort is haunted.
During her 10 years in charge of the museum, Mrs. Lobato has been confronted by a number of visitors who have told her ``something" is there.
Seven years ago, one woman asked, ``Did you know there's a ghost in the building?"
Mrs. Lobato had already been told. Several times. At least one woman fled from the infantry barracks white as a sheet.
About six years ago, a woman dropped by and told Mrs. Lobato she felt a presence and asked if she could ``hang around personally to speak
to the ghost." Mrs. Lobato agreed.
The woman asked the ghost to write his name: ``Eduardo" was the response.
" 'How come I can't see him?' " Mrs. Lobato remembers asking.
The woman explained that not everyone can see spirits.
A year ago, a Sioux medicine man on his way to Taos, N.M., stopped by the front desk on his way out, ``You know you have a spirit in that
building (the infan try barracks on the western edge of the perimeter)?"
By that time, Mrs. Lobato knew there was a basis for the sightings. Three years ago, she was provided copies of records from the archives in
Santa Fe, N.M.
The tale that unfolded was one ghost stories are made of: On a Friday night in 1863, two New Mexico Volunteers in the infantry at Fort Garland
received their pay, began to drink whiskey and got into an argument.
"It got pretty loud. They got in a fight and were locked up in the guardhouse," Mrs. Lobato explained.
About 2 a.m. the next day, the guard sent one of the men, Manuel Lujan -- he had no middle name on military records but it might have been
Eduardo -- back to the barracks, where Lujan went to sleep.
The second man, Honobono (or Homobono) Carbajal, was released about 5 a.m., even though he appeared agitated.
Carbajal returned to the barracks, pulled out a revolver and shot the sleeping Lujan in the back of the head, killing him. A sergeant caught
Carbajal at the door and took him to the guardhouse.
Carbajal was court martialed, found guilty of killing Lujan and ordered to hang. Although there is some documentation that Carbajal died from
hanging, there is other documentation that he was hospitalized for mental illness and later died of natural causes, Mrs. Lobato said.
Now, Mrs. Lobato talks about Lujan, whom she calls her "ghostly sentinel, the only guard I have that is actually in uniform."
"Now it's a game. Every morning I greet him: `Hello, Manuel, how are you doing?' At first I called him Eduardo but since I learned his name was
Manuel Lujan, I call him Manuel. And when I leave the grounds in the evening, I ask him to guard the place."
"It makes sense to me, even though I have not seen him," she added.
The old infantry barracks is used as display space and is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Manuel Lujan who was murdered in
Above photo from the Adams State College website
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