Dear Editor:

Thank you for your Oct. 24 story on the milestone achievement of the dedication of Bent’s New Fort. Although there is never enough room to include everything that needs to be included in a story, it is important to acknowledge the many, many people and organizations who made the opening of Bent’s New Fort possible and to correct a significant inaccuracy in the reporting. Bent’s New Fort is a privately owned site and is not in the process of being donated to the National Park Service. The party most responsible for making this remarkable historic site accessible to the public is one of the site’s owners, Brad Semmens. Mr. Semmens and his cousin Gary McCall have devoted countless hours, considerable personal finances, and blood, sweat and tears over the past six years to add Bent’s New Fort to its rightful place among the many publicly accessible, nationally significant historic sites that grace our region. Without their and their families’ vision and commitment, this achievement would not have been possible.

The National Park Service (NPS) has been but one partner among many in this endeavor, primarily in the form of grants and technical assistance with site planning, design and fabrication of beautiful wayside exhibits, signage and minor trail assistance. Programs involved include the National Trails Office of the Intermountain Region, the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Heritage Partnerships Program and staff members of both Bent’s Old Fort and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Sites. The professionals in these programs who have dedicated their expertise to Bent’s New Fort are too numerous to mention here, but suffice it to say there are many of them.

In addition to NPS grants, the Colorado State Historical Fund has made possible archaeological investigations, nomination of the site to the National Register of Historic Places, and other support. None of the grant support would have been possible without the partnership of non-profit 501(c)3 organizations whose missions are to support and promote preservation, heritage tourism, and public education about the outstanding heritage sites in our region; namely, the Santa Fe Trail Association, the Bent’s Fort Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association, and Canyons and Plains of Southeast Colorado. The Boards and dedicated volunteers within these organizations, too numerous to list individually, steadfastly performed the arduous and usually thankless task of administering various grants that made the on-site work possible, as well as contributing much intellectual expertise.

Grant funds for archaeological investigations and historical research could not have been put to use so expertly without the direction of the principal investigator, Richard Carrillo, owner, Cuartelejo Historic Preservation Associates. Assisted by students and instructors from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, Avalon Archaeology, Lone Wolf of Kiowa County, Connor Consulting, and numerous volunteers, Mr. Carrillo expanded immeasurably the record of the many layers of history held within the walls of Bent’s New Fort and its successor, old Fort Lyon. The public’s ability to walk along beautiful, formal trails to experience this history for themselves is made possible by the sheer physical labor, enthusiasm, and planning abilities of the Colorado Youth Summit and the Boy Scouts of America. Additional on-site assistance and projects in many forms have been provided by the City of Lamar, the Southeast Colorado Power Association, the Walden Mills Group, Northern Arizona University, Postmodern Company, the Rex Walker family, the Milton Hernandez family, Bill Broyles, Karen Voepel, Keith and Carol Dochterman, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribal fire crew.

Finally but not least, invaluable input, guidance, advice, and moral support have been generously offered by History Colorado, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Colorado Tourism Office and the Bent County Board of Commissioners. In sum, it has taken the will, expertise, volunteerism, contributions, and the labors of love of many people who shared a common goal and the landowners’ vision: to preserve and interpret the remarkable and significant site of Bent’s New Fort for future generations. The Semmens and McCall families and all those who helped make it a reality deserve a great deal of thanks.

Alexa Roberts, Superintendent
High Plains Group
National Park Service