Fort Garland, Colorado

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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The nearest city to us is Ft. Garland – 24 miles away. Much of what we experience when we go into Ft. Garland for mail or groceries is reminiscent of the old west. We get our mail there and also shop at the  Fort Market or Post Commissary.  The  Fort Market has just about any food item you need and is well stocked.  The owner, Gerald, is also an excellent meat cutter and just an all around good guy to stop and talk to.  The Post Commissary is locally owned  by two friendly and helpful brothers and has about any item of hardware you can imagine.

Fort Garland is a small unincorporated city of 432 people; of which about 31% live below the poverty line according to demographics. Poverty is defined by our government but I can tell you as far as being rich in the important things in life there is no poverty here.  Fort Garland  is 7,936′ in elevation and is known as the ‘Gateway to the San Luis Valley’. There are two gas stations, a few restaurants, the grocery store, hardware store, post office, liquor store and antique shops in town along with a recent old west attraction.  The town is named after the fort that was established there in 1858 and commanded by the frontiersman/scout Kit Carson in 1866.  It was established to protect the first settlers in the valley.

The original fort is now a Colorado historic site and has been made into a museum.  Fort Garland is a major tourist attraction and has much memorabilia from the past.  The attached photo reveals the Fort Market and the post office as well as the old fort.  Having grown up in a big city where you may not even know your neighbor;  being able to go into the post office where you are known is what I consider an added bonus of living here.  The town has  doubled in population in the 14 years we have lived here.  I for one like the small town atmosphere and friendliness.  

Each time we go into Fort Garland to shop or for our mail we can’t help but observe the beautiful vista’s that are breath taking and awe inspiring.  Or the feeling of stepping back 100 years in history.  Imagining instead of  the cars/trucks that now are present, that back in the day, it was wagons and horses used for transportation.  The dress is different now too, but if you smell the natural  drifting odors coming off the sage fields and look closely at the town you can tell it really hasn’t changed much over the years.  

    As I have already expressed in previous blogs, living where and how we do is enhanced by the local culture, our neighbors, and the area history.  To try to exclude that from our homestead would be like taking the flavor out of salt.  Our lives here are very much enhanced by these elements and our lives are far more full and satisfying because of our neighbors, the history and culture of the area.  We can’t go back 150 years in history but we can appreciate what we have now.  That is what we choose to do – enjoy the moment.  I hope you enjoy reading about not just how we live but where we live as well.  

To read more about our area, our lifestyle and mountain living check out our personal blog at