Remembering three area historic forts this weekend

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El Camino Real Historic Trail Site, formerly El Camino Real International Heritage Center, sheds light on the role of New Mexico’s early forts Saturday, March 1, during Historic Forts Day.

The annual event is free to the public and presents history and demonstrations of area U.S. Army forts and territorial life along the Camino Real.

Activities begin at 10 a.m. with a presentation on Fort Stanton by Larry Pope, the manager of Fort Stanton Historic Site. Pope will bring one of the fort’s old cannons and describe the current efforts to restore the massive fort of over 50 buildings.

At 11 a.m., Elephant Butte State Park rangers will give a photo presentation of “missing” Fort McRae near Truth or Consequences. Built during the Civil War to protect travelers along El Camino Real, the fort has been submerged under the waters of Elephant Butte Reservoir since the early 1900s. Recent low water levels have once again exposed the fort.

The presentation includes photographs of a recent archaeological survey of the inaccessible fort and what it looks like today.

“This may be your only chance to see this old historic fort,” organizers said.

At 2 p.m., activities move seven miles north to Fort Craig, where the Bureau of Land Management will be offering free tours of this national historic site. Archaeologists and personnel from the Socorro BLM Field Office will guide visitors through the fort’s ruins to describe the officer’s quarters, sally port, hospitals, sutler store and more.

Fort Craig has ample parking, a visitor’s center and public restrooms.

During the noon hour, the Ganadonegro family from Alamo will be making and selling authentic home-made Navajo tacos. Following lunch, second- and third-grade students from Cottonwood Valley Charter School will entertain on the outdoor amphitheater. The students will perform traditional dances, led by their teacher, Sheri Armijo,

El Camino Real Historic Trail Site is 31 miles south of Socorro at exit 115 on Interstate 25.

Historic Forts Day is sponsored by the Friends of El Camino Real, volunteers and docents dedicated to preserving the history of this famous trail.

For more information, call 575-854-3600.