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The gate to the former Fort Wingate Depot Activity in New Mexico in 2020.
The gate to the former Fort Wingate Depot Activity in New Mexico in 2020. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A town near a decommissioned New Mexico military post where troops once fought Apaches and where Buffalo Soldiers and Navajo code talkers were based is up for sale.

The 18-acre plot in Fort Wingate, N.M., about 130 miles west of Albuquerque, was put on the market with an $11 million asking price earlier this month, says a listing by Mark Price of Realty One Group Concierge.

The facility was originally an Army post established in 1868 as part of a treaty with the Navajo, and it served as a military base until 1912.

A U.S. Forest Service sign remains at Fort Wingate. The town in New Mexico that was home to the military base around the turn of the century is now up for sale. It includes an original trading post and 27 occupied homes.
A U.S. Forest Service sign remains at Fort Wingate. The town in New Mexico that was home to the military base around the turn of the century is now up for sale. It includes an original trading post and 27 occupied homes. (Mark T. Price/Realty One Group)

The anonymous seller’s family purchased the town in 1946, and the current owner serves as landlord, fire chief and police chief, Price told the New York Post. He has lived there his entire life, Price said.

“He has never been outside the lines of the town, and the family wants to spend the rest of (their) time traveling,” Price added.

The town is located off historic Route 66. It features RV lots with 80 hookups, 27 residential units that are “100% occupied” and an original trading post that includes a cafe, post office and gas station.

Film studios have approached the seller about turning the town into a movie set, Price told the Post. The new buyer would decide whether to allow the residents to remain, but the ideal buyer would want to take over the business and rentals, he said.

Fort Wingate, N.M., a former military base founded in 1866. The nearby town is up for sale for $11 million. The old fort has been a residence to generals, Buffalo Soldiers and Navajo code talkers.
Fort Wingate, N.M., a former military base founded in 1866. The nearby town is up for sale for $11 million. The old fort has been a residence to generals, Buffalo Soldiers and Navajo code talkers. (Mark T. Price/Realty One Group)

The former military base, next to reservations of the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Tribe, is now part of the Fort Wingate Historic District, which has more than 400 ruins that can be traced to those tribes, according to a National Park Service webpage.

Four years after the ill-fated 1864 relocation of the Navajo to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in a 400-mile journey called the Long Walk, the U.S. government allowed them to return and established the base, the NPS webpage says.

The soldiers there policed the reservation, and Navajo scouts operating out of the installation helped the military fight the Apaches, some of whom were incarcerated at the post.

In the 1870s and 1890s, Black soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and 25th Infantry Regiment, known as Buffalo Soldiers, were stationed at Fort Wingate.

A group of Apache scouts drills with rifles at Fort Wingate, N.M., in an undated photo.
A group of Apache scouts drills with rifles at Fort Wingate, N.M., in an undated photo. (National Archives)

Also in the late 19th century, it was home to two future generals.

Douglas MacArthur lived there as an infant when his father was an infantry commander there in the 1880s. A decade later, it was home to John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, who would go on to command the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe in World War I.

“This post is a S.O.B. and no question — tumbled down, old quarters,” Pershing wrote as a lieutenant posted there in late 1890, his second time, said an article in the New Mexico Historical Review. “The winters are severe — It is always bleak and the surrounding country is barren absolutely.”

After it was decommissioned in 1912, the site continued to serve a variety of military purposes until its ultimate closure in 1993.

It stored munitions during the world wars and became for a time the largest such facility in the world after 1918, the New Mexico Geological Society said in a published history from the 1960s.

It was also where the first Navajo code talkers reported for service with the U.S. Marines during World War II.

The town’s location near the historic sites, tribal lands and protected federal lands, including Cibola National Forest, make the property unique, Price said.

“Sitting down with the owners and hearing about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Navajo code talkers ... is what made me take on this project,” he said.

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Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.
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