The original Buffalo Soldiers rode into Animas City 144 years ago. They’re coming back this weekend and modern-day re-enactors will be at the Animas Museum on Saturday and on the train to Silverton on Sunday.
It’s been almost a century and a half since the original U.S. Army Regiment known as the Buffalo Soldiers rode into the Animas Valley to keep the peace. Possibly in reaction to the clash between Nathan Meeker and the White River Utes earlier in September 1879, the settlers in Animas City asked for military protection. False rumors spiked fears, according to some sources, and the governor ordered the troops to relocate from Fort Lewis, then stationed near Pagosa Springs. The first all-Black regiment of the United States Army bivouacked near Animas City for two years.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, modern re-enactors of the original regiment will make camp on the grounds of the Animas Museum at the corner of 31st Street and West Second Avenue. At 10 a.m., there will be an opening blessing by a re-enactor of John Taylor Valdez. At 11:30 a.m., retired U.S. Naval Intelligence officer Gail Harris will introduce Cathay Williams. The re-enactor will portray the only known female Buffalo Soldier. And at 1 p.m., attendees are invited inside the museum where a formal presentation will be made in the historic classroom.
“This is a great way to learn more about the history of the African American soldiers who served on the frontier,” Museum Curator Susan Jones said. “This dedicated organization’s mission is to educate the public about the existence of the Ninth and 10th U.S. Cavalry.”
“In October 1879, about 600 troops were sent to Animas City, including the Buffalo Soldiers from the Ninth Cavalry, under the command of Major Alfred L. Hough and senior field officer Colonel George P. Buell,” local historian Charles DiFerdinando said last week in his presentation about the early history of Fort Lewis. “They set up separate camps. The white soldiers were bivouacked north of Second Street, today’s 32nd Street, and the Buffalo Soldiers across the river. They stayed until January 1880 and then headed back to Fort Lewis, then located at Pagosa Springs.”
WHAT: Buffalo Soldiers encampment – afternoon activities, presentations. Part of History Live and the Southwest Colorado Humanities Roundtable.
WHERE: Animas Museum, 3065 West Second Ave.
WHEN: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday. From 9:45 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Sunday, Buffalo Soldiers Ride the Rails, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
TICKETS: All Saturday events are free. Sunday train ride $120.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit https://animasmuseum.org or call 259-2402.
“We will be setting up various stations on the grounds,” Jones said. “The soldiers will have artifacts to show and things to talk about. There will be a crafts table for kids all day long.”
Sunday, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will have a coach dedicated to the Buffalo Soldiers, Jones said. They will share more stories on the way to Silverton and back. The cost is $120 per person and reservations can be made at the museum.