27 Mar 2019

Notes on Fort Uintah from the Cragin Collection:

“Notes on Fort Uintah (visited by F. W. Cragin, August – September 1901).

A. Antione Robidoux was the builder and proprieter of this trading fort. It is situated about one mile southeast of the present White Rocks Indian Agency in Range 1 east from the Uintah Special Meridian and Township 1 N. from the Uintah base-line, being about one mile east and 1 1/3 miles north from the point of intersection of the said meridian and base-line. It thus agrees quite closely with the latitude and longitude given by Fremont, from his observations of 1844.

B. I was guided to the site and informed about the fort by olf Big Tom, a Uintah Ute who has always lived in this region, and used (as did also old Jimmy Duncan, Ute) to see the fort when he was a boy. He was a young man grown when Jim Bridger (in 1847) came out with the Mormons and his first wife was Diliat, a half-breed daughter of Charles Sorel by a Shoshone Ute squaw.

The site of the fort is approximately outlined in sagebrush and appears circular, but is really polygonal, 5 sides being about 55 ft. long exteriously (sic) still indicated by the – – – sage brush and at – – – – total east west diameter is about 101 or 102 feet and the N.N.E. – S.S.W. diameter 105 or 110 feet. (Insert C) The diameter of the court inclosed by the houses is about 68 feet.

A corral, built and abandoned some years ago by the Ute, Big Joe has infringed upon and obliterated a portion of the S.E. quarter of the site, and in this quarter Big Tom says was a large gate. The circle or polygon consisted of a series of “French house” or more properly – – – in most of which the position of the fire place is indicated by a pile of water rounded cobble stone of the kind found in present and abandoned channels of the Uintah River near by, some of the stones still showing where they were blackened by fire. On the W.N.W. side of the court, and just within the circle of houses, is an area 25 ft. square covered with wild rose bushes; this Big Tom says is the site of the store or rooms which apparently were about 12 in number. – – – are in part preserved roughly in sage brush. The Frenchman’s house so far as can be asertained, were only of about 18 (one is 20, another 16 feet from front to back). Some of the fireplaces seem to be only 12 others about 20 feet apart, but these chimney sides are not all assertainable, owing to the late removal – – – stone in some cases. The roofs doubtless – – -out – – – into the court. the frieplace was at the outer side of each room, furthest from the – – – of the court. The houses Big Tom says were built of cottonwood logs, and had flat roofs made of cottonwood poles covered with dirt. Around the fort were big cottonwood trees, which have all been cut down in later years by the Indians. A variety of goods, Big Tom says, such as blankets, guns, gun flint, powder, lead, knives, sugar, flour, calico, beads, etc. were traded to the Indians for beaver and buckskin, elk hides and buffalo robes at the store. There were, in those trading days, plenty of all these to be had on the Duchene and Uintah rivers. The goods were brought to the fort on pack-mules, of which Big Tom says there were “heap;” and Fremont’s purchase of a cow at the fort in 1844 indicates that – – – at least a few cattle had been brought there by Robidoux. But Big Tom says no ground was cultivated by the traders, though subirrigation or easy surface irrigation – – – raising of garden stuff. Habitues (sic) and employees of the fort were Archambeau, Charles Sorel, Louis Simmonds”

The Cragin Collection
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
215 South Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
719-385-5650

Cragin’s Field Notes Fort Uintah

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