Traders and Forts

Today you’ll be going back in time to become a trader and build your own fort. You’ll travel through the wilderness and face untold dangers. The ones who make it through alive…win.

So begins our Time Travel Field Trip to 1836. It’s unlike any history lecture, textbook or presentation you’ve ever seen. Why?

History is so often taught as a fait accompli, something where the conclusion is already known, something that happened a long time ago to other people.

This is different. Click the links to find out more.

Traders and Forts focuses on:

  • How did the movement of goods connect forts in Colorado to other places?
  • How did the trade triangle between St. Louis, Santa Fe, and the local Plains Tribes affect the people and animals of the time?
  • What geographical features made a fort more or less successful?
  • What resources drew people to Colorado?
  • Analyze maps to make wise decisions.
  • What was life like at Bent’s Fort?
  • What was it like to travel on the Santa Fe Trail? What were the risks and rewards?
  • Additional primary source support for student dice rolls included in the appendix. Share it with your students, read it for your own pleasure, or ignore it completely – whatever works for you!


(DOK 1-2) Describe how the physical environment provides opportunities for human activities

(DOK 1-2) Describe how places in Colorado are connected by movement of goods and services

(SS09-GR.4-S.1-GLE.2) Students know about the historical eras and groups in Colorado history.

(DOK 1-3) Give examples of the kinds of goods and services produced in Colorado in different historical periods and their connection to economic incentives.


Two class periods, 45 minutes to an hour each.

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