Vision and Goals
The initial vision of the South Platte Valley Historical Society when it was formed was to preserve the rich history of the South Platte River area through the agricultural region of northern Colorado. Settlement in this area began with the establishment of four trading forts along a 15 mile stretch of the South Platte River. So the restoration and re-creation of a timeline of structures and furnishings from 1836 through 1900 began with the recreation of historic Lupton’s fort, or as it was known in the period of its operation - Fort Lancaster. The vision and goals of the society is to create/restore historic buildings and preserve open spaces along the river that will allow its members to provide living history experiences to visitors to the historic park it is creating. Much of the planned infrastructure is in place, several items are yet to be accomplished.
Lancaster Lupton’s Fort is staffed on event occasions by historic re-enactors in period dress who encourage the participation of visitors. The fur trade era is depicted with demonstrations such as trapping, trading, blacksmithing, carpentry, gunsmithing, coopering, and 1830’s-’40s food preparation demonstrations. The recreated fort has blacksmith and carpenter shops, living quarters, kitchen and food preparation areas, trade room and tools and artifacts of a working fur trade fort. The original storage room that would have housed wagons, trade goods and bundles of furs and buffalo robes can be used as a meeting room, allowing for a variety of gatherings.
The original 1854 Trapper Cabin, moved from the banks of the South Platte River, is a restored treasure that showcases the equipment and lifestyle of independent trappers that operated along the river. On display are traps and furs, as well as the sparse furnishings that made the cabin a home for the series of adventurers who occupied it for nearly 100 years.
The Donelson Homestead House showcases the living conditions of a mid 1800’s local farm family. Early farmers followed miners to the area because of the potential markets for their products. In the summer, kitchen and herb gardens illustrate the bounty of produce grown in the area. The farm settlement will eventually include a barn to shelter the Society’s collection of early wagons and machinery, and potentially, farm animals. Visitors can now savor a bit of the past at scheduled teas and tours.
The 1875 Independence School reflects the commitment to education by the early settlers. Furnished with handmade desks, the schoolhouse is the scene of summer school sessions for today’s children. The students dress in period costumes, write on slates, and play the same games that farm children played. Other special educational events may be held as requested.
Planned for the future is a replacement of the current visitor’s center with a meeting room, museum display area, and gift shop. The anticipated visitor’s center will, as does the current building, welcome and introduce visitors to the entire 97 acre park.
Closer to the South Platte River is a preserved natural area. Keeping an undisturbed habitat for wildlife such as beaver, mink, fox, deer, wild turkeys, and other native animals found in the 1800’s will continue to be an important, educational part of the organization.
Between the South Platte River and the trade fort there is a rendezvous area is used by the society’s department of historic re-enactors who conduct several rendezvous throughout the year. These include the February Frozen Toes, the Memorial Day Lancaster, September’s Trapper Days and Hunter’s Widow, October’s Colonial, and November’s Turkey Baster encampments.
An important use of the rendezvous area is to host Boy and Girl Scout events to support the scouts learning about nature, doing service projects, conducting leadership and educational training, and hosting jamborees.
On the Society’s property is also a black powder range operated independently of the Society by the Fort Lupton Muzzle Loading Club. The purpose of this range is to preserve the art of muzzleloading and black powder shooting, skills that were fundamental to survival in the historic west and representative of the time period the historic park represents. The range is also used for hunter safety training, 4-H and Boy Scout shooting skills classes.
All facilities may also be used for private and public events, proceeds from which will allow the Society to continue to meet its visions for the future.
South Platte Valley Historical Society Goals
- Preserve the site of historic Fort Lupton also known as Fort Lancaster.
- Restore, preserve and re-create historic structures and artifacts that played an important part in the settlement of the South Platte River region.
- Provide a place for adults and youth to experience the skills and living conditions of the time period of the 1830’s to 1900.
- Provide opportunities for adults and youth to understand the South Platte River region’s early history in itself and in the context of the history of the United States.
- Promote the education of adults and youth through historical events and tours.