Travelers driving highway NM-63 between Pecos and Rowe will see the iconic mandarin orange and blue trimmed adobe historic Kozlowski Trading Post on Forked Lightning Ranch at the Glorieta Creek crossing. The close observer will have noticed a transformation over the past couple of years.
In early 2019, the Pecos National Historical Park was awarded funding for a rehabilitation and partial restoration project of the Trading Post. Work was planned to provide a visitor contact station at the park, a museum, and employee office space. The project was funded through visitor entrance fees from parks around the country. The Park Service partnered with Weil Construction of Albuquerque, Avanyu General Contracting of Española and Pat Taylor Historic Preservation of Mesilla NM. Primary rehabilitation and restoration work were completed in June 2020. Additionally, a new 400 ft water well was drilled to replace the previous well that had become contaminated. Plans and work are underway to open the Trading Post to the visiting public. Exhibit design, which includes refining of display content and fabrication of exhibits are in progress. The hopes are that this work will be completed during the Winter 2021-2022.
Historical restoration work at the Trading Post was limited to restoring the gate entrance to its historic size during the Tex Austin ranching days in the 1920s.
Dating back to 1810, past travelers started using the crossing at Glorieta Creek as a rest camp. In 1821, when the Santa Fe Trail was established, it became a regular stopover camp. In those days, water flowed and fish were plentiful in the Creek. It wasn’t until 1858, when Polish immigrant Martin Kozlowski and his wife Ellene, using his military service 160-acre government bounty land warrant to purchase 600 acres, settled there and the trading post was established. This trading post was part of a growing enterprise including a stage station. During the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass, this building served as a Union hospital. The arrival of the Acheson Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1880 rendered the Santa Fe Trail obsolete and Kozlowski’s Trading Post less relevant. The property stayed in the Kozlowski family until the 1920s when it was lost due to failure to pay taxes.
In 1925, rodeo-promoter and entrepreneur “Tex” Austin purchased 6000 acres of Pecos Pueblo land grant, the building, and turned it into ranch headquarters for his famous Forked Lightning Ranch. The one historical restoration in this project restored the courtyard opening back to “Tex” Austin days. In the 1940s, E.E. “Buddy” Fogelson bought the ranch and then brought his Hollywood actress wife, Oscar-winning Greer Garson, to the Forked Lightning Ranch. Together, they worked the land as a hobby ranch and entertained many Hollywood guests. After Greer Garson’s death, the property was sold to the Conservation Fund in 1991, then donated to the National Park Service. The Trading Post was used it as office space until 2005, when the building was deemed unfit for occupancy.
Enjoy some in progress, before and after comparison photos taken during the project.