On March 13, 2009, I wrote a post for Wild West History about one of my favorite historical places--The Natural Fort. The Natural Fort is a large rock formation made of sandstone, carved by centuries of wind and rain. My children and I spent many afternoons at this fort, which is near what is now the Terry Bison Ranch. We loved climbing over the rocks, hiding in the "cubbies," avoiding broken beer bottles and reading the graffiti, some so old that they also have local historical significance, dating as far back as 1866! Sometimes we made up stories about the great battle that took place at the fort, and many times we simply enjoyed the sun on our faces, and the protection from the fierce winds.
The Natural Fort is located near the Wyoming/Colorado border, an area with winds so strong they'll take the shirt right off your back. Through the years, those winds carved holes in the rock (we called them cubbies) just deep enough to fit a man, or a Blackfoot warrior. This is where our story begins, and ends, at The Natural Fort, with a few unlucky Blackfoot warriors who sought shelter in the rocks in 1831, and the Crow warriors who surrounded them, waiting for their enemies to die.
The year 1831 was a drought year, and the Apsaalooke Crow and Blackfoot warriors were both following the trail of the buffalo, searching for water and food for their families. These two tribes were generally found on opposite sides of Yellowstone, but the drought was severe and they traveled long and far past their territories to find sustenance for their families. Jim Beckwourth, the famed black mountain man, fur trader and explorer, claimed in his memoirs that he was Chief of the Apsaalooke Crow at this time and was married to the daughter of one of the former chiefs.