Like many Forts in New Mexico, Fort Selden was originally established in 1865 to protect the newly arriving settlers in the Mesilla Valley from roving bands of desperados and attacks by the indigenous Mescalero Apache. The Las Cruces area had a good sized population at this point, as it sat along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro or Royal Road of the Interior Lands, the 1500-mile historic trade route that extended from Mexico City to north of Santa Fe.
Fort Selden has a special history as home to the 125th US Colored Infantry Regiment a.k.a “Buffalo Soldiers” mobilized into the Union Army during Civil War. More troops of Buffalo soldiers came later including the 38th Infantry Regiment and the 9th US Cavalry and 10th US Cavalry.
Another claim to fame is that the future US Army General Douglas MacArthur lived at Fort Selden for two years as a child while his father, Captain Arthur MacArthur, Jr was stationed there. He claimed to have learned to “ride and shoot, even before we learned to read and write.”
In 1891 Fort Selden was decommissioned and abandoned, as the US Military decided to focus on the expansion and development of Fort Bliss, due to the decreased need for small forts around the territory.
Visit the adobe brick structure on the banks of the Rio Grande and imagine what it must have been like to be stationed in a place so remote. Check out the visitor center for exhibits and information about the site and the history of the people who were stationed there. You can catch living history demonstrations on some weekends from 1-4 pm, May 1-Sept. 15. Call for a schedule of living history and demonstration-style events.