A plot of land in Fort Wingate, a New Mexico town that once housed a military installation of the same name, is on sale for $11 million, reports Mary K. Jacob for the New York Post. Located about 130 miles west of Albuquerque, the United States Army outpost was founded in 1868 during the Western Indian Wars, decommissioned in 1912 and officially shut down in 1993. During its years in operation, the fort housed Black servicemen known as “Buffalo Soldiers” and Navajo code talkers.
The seller’s family purchased the property—which includes a historic trading post, a post office, rental homes and other businesses—in 1946. Now, the unidentified owner, who simultaneously serves as the town’s landlord, fire chief and police chief, is ready for a change.
“The current owner has lived there his entire life,” listing agent Mark Price of Realty One Group Concierge tells the Post. “He has never been outside the lines of the town and the family now wants to spend the rest of [its] time traveling.”
Price adds, “It’s time to pass on the baton.”
According to the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. government established Fort Wingate “primarily as a police force” for a neighboring Navajo reservation. (The Fort Wingate Historic District includes 400 ruins linked to the region’s Indigenous Navajo and Zuni people.) The large military installation became a base for Navajo scouts who assisted the U.S. Army in battles against the Apache between the 1870s and 1890s.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Fort Wingate welcomed a new set of residents: Buffalo Soldiers from all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments tasked with maintaining order along the Western frontier. The Native American groups who encountered these men may have nicknamed them “buffalo soldiers” in recognition of their dark, curly hair or fierce fighting style, History.com notes.
John J. Pershing, who would later command the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I, was posted at the New Mexico fort as a member of the 6th U.S. Cavalry in 1889. In a September 1890 letter, the future general described the base’s “tumbled down” state, adding, “The winters are severe. It is always bleak and the surrounding country is barren absolutely.”
Fort Wingate was decommissioned in 1912 but continued to serve as a storage and training hub. Native American code talkers, who famously baffled the Japanese military by sending messages in their native Navajo during World War II, were trained there. The military site closed for good in 1993.
Though most of the original fort was destroyed by an 1896 fire or demolished by the government, some portions remain standing today, reports Maggie Krajewski for KOAT-TV. Per the NPS, surviving features include parade grounds, an 1883 adobe clubhouse, barracks, officers’ quarters built around 1900 and a military cemetery.
As Price tells the Post, the land currently up for sale contains an RV parking lot with 80 hookups and 27 residential properties, all of which are fully occupied. A number of film studios have expressed interest in using the site as a movie set while maintaining the RV facilities and housing.
“Sitting down with the owners and hearing about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Navajo code talkers [who graced this land] is what made me take on this project,” Price tells the Post. “… If the new owner decides they don’t want the residents or occupants any longer, they have the choice to do so. But ideally, we are looking for someone that would want to take over the business and rentals.”