DEL NORTE— The Del Norte Public Library has been home to the Fremont Expedition Monument since 1928 where the roughly 300-pound expedition marker has remained in the same place until two years ago when the monument was moved in order for work to be completed on the intersection of Highway 160 and 112. It was placed in storage until a few weeks ago, when it was finally returned back to its place near the entrance to the library.
During his fourth expedition through the Rocky Mountain region, in the mid-1800s, John Fremont and his crew of 10 men camped on the location where the 105-year old library now sits. The monument was erected in remembrance of the men who lost their lives during their treacherous journey over the San Juan Mountains and has been on the state’s historical register since 2005.
Fremont’s expedition is widely known as one of the first to travel through the unmarked territory of Wolf Creek Pass, specifically Boot Mountain as a means to find the fastest route to Taos, N.M. During the journey and according to Fremont’s journal that was recovered, 10 men lost their lives making the journey to Taos with only five survivors actually making it to their destination.
According to the diary, by the time the party had reached Boot Mountain, it was taking them almost 90-minutes to travel 300 yards through deep snow and dangerous terrain. Some of the diary is kept in the historical documents at the library, and though it can not leave the library, it can be viewed by interested persons.
When CDOT announced that they were going to be revamping the intersection of Highway 160 and 112, they contacted the library and asked permission to temporarily remove the monument with the promise that it would be placed back on the property once the project was completed. Though it took almost two years for the monument to be returned, it now resides next to the grain grinding wheels that are also a part of Del Norte’s historical past.
The library was thrilled to have the historical marker back and is eager to share its historical significance with patrons and guests. The front part of the building where the monument has been placed is still the original library with original doors, windows and the fireplace that was once used to heat the small building, though it is not used today.