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History

With the removal of Native American populations to reservations, by 1880 the U.S. Government was beginning to close the scattered military forts on the frontier because they were no longer efficient or economical. The burgeoning railroads made it possible for the Army to move quickly wherever they were needed. Still, the citizens of Denver, with its relative isolation and apprehension concerning increased immigration from the East and abroad, renewed their efforts in 1886 to have an Army post near the city. Following the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce, a bill introduced by Colorado Senator Henry M. Teller, authorizing establishment of such a post, was passed and signed by President Grover Cleveland in February, 1887.

 

Lt Gen. Philip H. Sheridan selected the location of the fort, and contributions from citizens and businesses purchased 640 acres of Arapahoe County land nine miles south of Denver's Union (train) Station. The first soldiers to arrive were members of the 18th Infantry, formerly of Forts Hays and Leavenworth, Kansas. After camping on a nearby ranch for several days, the troops officially occupied the military reservation on October 31, 1887.

 

The soldiers completed temporary barracks and a guardhouse in December of that year. In 1888 the first quartermaster, Capt. Lafayette E. Campbell, laid out plans for the grounds. A civilian architect, Frank J. Grodavent, designed permanent buildings including officers' quarters lining the south and west sides of a 32-acre parade ground, headquarters building, hospital, enlisted men's barracks, stables and warehouses. Construction began on these permanent facilities in July, 1888. The post was still officially named "the camp near the city of Denver," although most local residents referred to it as "Fort Sheridan" (even naming the northern approach road Sheridan Road). Gen. Sheridan, however, had other plans, having been involved with planning for another new and much larger fort outside of Chicago.

 

John Alexander Logan had risen to the rank of major-general commanding volunteer forces of the Union Army in the Civil War. As an early commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (the veterans' organization), he issued a directive establishing May 30 as "Decoration Day" to honor the Civil War dead. This later became a national holiday called Memorial Day. While Logan had visited Colorado on several occasions and invested in the State's silver mines, he died in 1886 before the post was named for him on August 9, 1889.

 

Colonel Henry C. Merriam came from Fort Laramie, WY in 1889 to become the commanding officer, and five companies of the famed 7th Infantry came with him. Troops from Fort Logan were dispatched to South Dakota in December 1890 to assist in controlling a feared "Sioux uprising," but the Colorado contingent was assigned to the northern part of the state and did not participate in the fighting which culminated with the massacre at Wounded Knee. In 1894 the 2nd Cavalry was transferred from Fort Bowie, AZ, staying until 1904. The same year they were joined by the Army's Signal Corps observation balloon.

 

When the Spanish-American War began in 1898, almost all units from Fort Logan went to Cuba. A Signal Corps balloon, made at the fort by Sgt. Ivy Baldwin in 1896, was used at the Battle of Santiago and gathered important Spanish troop dispositions until it was shot down on the second day. Although the Army continued to use observation balloons through the Great War and after, no more balloons were stationed at Fort Logan.

 

About 340 acres of land were added to the fort in 1908, but in 1909 Fort Logan was reduced to a recruit depot, inducting soldiers who were then sent to other camps for training. This mission continued through the First World War until 1922, when a company of the 38th Infantry was garrisoned. Major (and future President) Dwight Eisenhower was stationed at Fort Logan during 1924-5. The fort and the roads leading to it had fallen into a state of disrepair, due to the limited garrison, and Denver newspapers began calling it "Fort Forgotten".

 

The 38th Infantry was succeeded by the 2nd Engineers in 1927, who were in turn replaced by the 18th Engineers in 1939. Much work was done to rehabilitate the old buildings and build new ones during the 1930s, involving federal work programs. On December 9, 1940 the fort became a sub-post of Lowry Field, in east Denver. The Engineers left in 1941 and the Army Air Corps used the facility for training clerks, and later activated the medical facilities as a convalescent hospital. A portion of the grounds also served as a War Department Processing Center, for induction into and separation from military service. Many temporary buildings were erected, with as many as 5,500 persons stationed at the post during the 1940s.

 

Fort Logan was closed in May 1946, with the Veterans Administration utilizing the hospital building until the new VA hospital in Denver was completed in 1951. Fort Logan National Cemetery was created in 1949 from 214 acres on the western edge of the post. This included the original 3.2 acre post cemetery first used in 1889. The Martin Company rented several of the buildings late in the 1950s.

 

Three hundred eight acres of the fort land was deeded to the State of Colorado in 1960 to establish a state hospital, Fort Logan Mental Health Center, as a new era for the former military post began. On the 232 acre campus, there are many historic buildings, some of which date back to 1889. New facilities for psychiatric inpatient and support services were built in the l960s. Offices of the Department of Institutions and other state agencies are now located on the grounds. The name was changed in 1991 to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan.

 

[Text courtesy of "A Brief History of Fort Logan, 1887-1987, Centennial Edition: by CMHIFL" and "An Invitation to Become a Member of Friends of Historic Fort Logan" by FHFL.]