South Platte Valley Historical Society Society`````````````````````````````South Platte Valley Historical Society


Rebuilding the Past - For the Future

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January 25, 2015


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A Brief History of Fort Lupton & Its Founder

Written by Dorothy and David Lupton


Fort Lupton had it beginning in late 1836 as a log shelter for its builder, Lancaster Platt Lupton and his Mexican laborers.  The site chosen was approximately seven miles south of another fur trading fort called Fort Vasquez.  As this period was an active one for fort building and fur trading, Fort Lupton eventually found itself on the southern end of four forts that were built on the South Platte River, north of Denver, in what is now Colorado.  They were all situated along the old north-south trade route called the Trappers’ Trail.  A permanent adobe structure (then referred to as Fort Lancaster) probably was not begun until mid April 1837.  Adobe bricks could not be "cured" in very cold weather and approximately 34,000 were needed to build the post!  Although there are no contemporary descriptions of the fort, from the ruins it was estimated to be approximately 125 feet by 150 feet with walls fifteen to eighteen feet high, a north west circular tower stood several feet higher than the walls, and "a bastion with portholes was conspicuous at the south-east corner."  The fort would have had living quarters for its manager as well as a kitchen, blacksmith area, trading room, a corral and storage rooms.  Shortly after Lupton left in 1844, his financial backers, Hiram Rich and Albert G. Wilson closed the post.  Research is currently in place to determine more about the day to day activities at this important fur trading post.


Lieutenant Lancaster Platt Lupton, Founder of Fort Lupton:


Lancaster Platt Lupton was born in New York on September 21, 1807.  Although his parents lived in New York City where his father, William Lupton, Jr., was a lawyer, his birth probably occurred in Walton, New York.  This was the home of his maternal grandparents, Isaac and Mary Townsend.  The Townsends were prominent in New York history as were the Luptons.  Lancaster’s grandfather has been acknowledged as one of New York City’s wealthiest merchants and a founder and trustee of the John Street Methodist Chapel.  Lancaster’s father, amidst financial difficulties, made an important decision to obtain an appointment for his son to attend the West Point Military Academy.  Both an education and a career were thus made secure if his son could survive the strenuous routines of the Academy.  Fortunately, Lancaster graduated from the Academy in 1829 and immediately began his military career.  After six years on the frontiers of our country, he resigned from the prestigious U.S. Dragoons and began a new life as a fur trader in what is now Colorado.


Lancaster Lupton not only established Fort Lupton as a fur trading post but sometime in late 1839 or early 1840 established another fur trading post.  This was called Fort Platt and it was located on the North Platte River about a mile from the successful fort we now call Fort Laramie.  He had taken for a bride a chief’s daughter named Tomas and the home of her tribe was in this area.  Unlike many fur trader’s unions with Indian women, this marriage was permanent.  When Fort Lupton ceased in its fur trading activity, Lupton and Tomas moved to an area in southern Colorado near Pueblo called Hardscrabble.  In 1849, they joined the gold seekers and moved to California.  Six of their 8 children survived and were raised primarily in Humboldt County, California.  Lieutenant Lancaster Lupton died October 1, 1885.  Ironically one of those adobe walls of old Fort Lupton survived for another 100 years spearheading an interest in rebuilding this old fort.  Clay, straw, and water has moved a society to create a contemporary learning center" a fortune of survival.   


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