Preservation: The Fort that Wouldn’t Die

The Fort that Wouldn’t Die


Southern New Mexico’s Fort Bayard was built in 1866 to protect settlers from the Apache until Geronimo surrendered 20 years later. From there, Bayard became the first U.S. military sanatorium for soldiers suffering from TB, serving up to 400 patients at a time. By 1922, it was a Veterans hospital. During WWII, Fort Bayard held German POWs.

From 1965 to four years ago, the State used the fort to care for the old and disabled. The state “decided they didn’t want to be a landlord anymore,” says Cecilia Bell, president of the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society. Heat and water were cut off to most of the buildings, and the structures began rotting.

But some hope remains. A multi-million-dollar hospital will soon be built at Fort Bayard. In an effort to keep interest in the fort alive, the society offers bimonthly, year-round historical tours. The tours help tell a remarkable story—and the promise of something special in the future.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.