By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
A Tucumcari businessman has re-constructed a piece of New Mexico’s past.
Stanley Jennings, owner of the Fort Bascom Trading Post, has built a model of Fort Bascom. He started work on the model in July of 2005 and finished it in February of this year.
The completed model is now on display in the store for the public to see.
“I built the model because it is a big part of our history that has been kind of forgotten,” said Jennings. “It would have been the largest fort in the United States if it had not been closed. I based the model on the various historical documents about the Fort’s personnel and facilities.
Fort Bascom, north of Tucumcari, was built in 1863 to help defend the settlers against the attacks and raids from Comanches and the illegal trading done by the Comancheros.
“I built the structures and did the layout. My wife painted the people and animals. I had fun building this model and it is a shame that the fort isn’t standing today.”
Brig. Gen. James H. Carleton, acting commander of the Military Department of New Mexico, ordered the military post be built and named it Bascom to honor Capt. George N. Bascom, 16th U.S. Infantry, who fell at the Battle of Valverde in 1862, according to Robert Julyan in his book “The Place Names of New Mexico.”
Kit Carson and Gen. Philip Sheridan worked out of Fort Bascom where they led campaigns against the Comanches and Comancheros even after the fort’s closure in 1870, according to some historians.
Julyan wrote, “Fort Bascom, sometimes called simply Bascom Camp, with a garrison of 88 men, proved ineffective, and in 1870 the post was closed, the troops transferred to Fort Union.”
The fort no longer stands but there is a state historical marker located North of Tucumcari on Highway 104 indicating where it once stood.
By the way, Julyan pointed out that another fort, Fort Bassett — which was north of Tucumcari and south of Fort Bascom — was where soldiers camped for one winter only.
The origin of Fort Bassett’s name is unknown, according to Ryan.