Fort Bayard, New Mexico is in risk of slipping away into oblivion. Without proper funding and support what's left of Fort Bayard will be forever lost in American History.
Our goal through our Fort Bayard Project is to raise awareness of the long and rich history and to preserve the area for generations to come.
Located between Hurley and Silver City New Mexico, Fort Bayard was once the home to Apache Native Americans, many military families, the first Buffalo Soldiers and a tuberculosis hospital.
It was originally established in 1865 to protect early settlers and miners along the Apache Trail and then developed into regular army units in 1866.
In 1899, Fort Bayard Army Post became a hospital for patients with T.B., and finally, around 1922, ownership of the hopsital was transferred under the Veterans Administration.
Fort Bayard closed its doors in 2010, leaving the once full of life facility to become desolate and run down. Although declared a national historic landmark in 2004, the locally formed “Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society” is currently seeking to restore the fort.
In 1899, surgeon George M. Stemberg heavily renovated the post into an infirmary for bed-ridden U.S. Army officers with tuberculosis.
Throughout the next decade, Fort Bayard saw many changes, particularly during the time of commanding officer Major Private George E. Bushnell.
Dr. Bushnell is credited for much of the sanatorium’s success. His research on T. B. offered the best chance for recovery at that time.
In 1922, officials at both the Treasury Department and Veterans Bureau announced an expansion of the facility to accommodate more patients and add residential quarters for employees.
By 1965, the State of New Mexico took over responsibility of the hospital using it as a long-term care center for military veterans.
Since Fort Bayard closed its doors in 2010, many of the 81 buildings, including the hospital, have been plagued with vandalism and deterioration. Currently, The Fort Bayard Preservation Development Coalition, Members of the Fort Bayard Historic Society, and local residents are struggling to rebuild and return the history that once was the heart of the post.
“Fort Bayard is near and dear to my heart because of so many people that lived and worked and gave their lives for other people and they have stories that need to be told.”
President of The Fort Bayard Historic Society
“We would like for the buildings that are left to be preserved as a monument for those who have served here both as patients, as workers, as volunteers, or who have had family that have been here in the post.”
Member of the Fort Bayard Historic Society
“We were all friends, and we took care of each other; there was a bond here that I’d hate for us to lose.”
-Sharon Hoagland Gonzalez, Former resident of Fort Bayard
“Until there is new ownership, you can see there is so much deterioration and so much work needed -- mowing, cutting the dead trees down, and getting these buildings at least a better face lift.”
-Kathryn Brown, Member of the Fort Bayard Preservation Development Coalition
“Everybody is dedicated to keeping the history -- no question. That is a big thing; we are very positive that the possible buyer understands where we are coming from as they progress along with the State.”
-Ansel Walters, President of the Fort Bayard Preservation Development Coalition
“This was the major head quarters for the Ninth Calvary Buffalo Soldiers. They did operations out of here you wouldn’t believe, and you just feel these guys...they are still here; sometimes, it gets to me, and we just can’t let this go.”
-William ‘Bill” McCurtis
While concerned citizens strive to secure a historically supportive future for the post, some of that history is kept alive through events such as Fort Bayard Days and traditional reenactments. It is vital to those involved that the memories, the people, and their stories are told and honored.