Camp Nichols

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Camp Nichols
USA Oklahoma location map.svg
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Usa edcp location map.svg
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Location Cimarron County, Oklahoma, USA
Nearest city Wheeless, Oklahoma
Coordinates 36°45′14.22″N102°55′35.15″W / 36.7539500°N 102.9264306°W / 36.7539500; -102.9264306 Coordinates: 36°45′14.22″N102°55′35.15″W / 36.7539500°N 102.9264306°W / 36.7539500; -102.9264306
Area7 acres (2.8 ha)
Built1865 (1865)
NRHP reference # 66000628
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966 [1]
Designated NHLMay 23, 1963 [2]

Camp Nichols, also known as Fort Nichols or Camp Nichols Ranch, was a short-lived historic fortification located in present-day Cimarron County, Oklahoma, about 3 miles (4.8 km) northwest of the community of Wheeless, Oklahoma. It was built by New Mexico and California volunteers under the command of Col. Kit Carson to protect travelers on the most dangerous part of the Cimarron Cut-off of the Santa Fe Trail from raids by the Kiowa and Comanche Indians. Established in May 1865 and abandoned in September 1865, it was the only manmade structure along the Cimarron Cut-off while it was an active route. [2] [3] It is believed to have been named for Captain Charles P. Nichols of the First California Cavalry. [4]

Cimarron County, Oklahoma U.S. county in Oklahoma, United States

Cimarron County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,475, making it the least-populous county in Oklahoma. Its county seat is Boise City.

Wheeless, Oklahoma Unincorporated community in Oklahoma, United States

Wheeless is a small unincorporated community in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, United States. The post office was established February 12, 1907, and discontinued September 27, 1963. Nearby are the ruins of Camp Nichols, a military encampment on the Santa Fe Trail, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Kit Carson American frontiersman and Union Army general

Christopher Houston Carson, better known as Kit Carson, was an American frontiersman. He was a mountain man, wilderness guide, Indian agent, and U.S. Army officer. Carson became a frontier legend in his own lifetime via biographies and news articles. Often exaggerated versions of his exploits were the subject of dime novels. His understated nature belied confirmed reports of his fearlessness, combat skills, tenacity, and profound effect on the westward expansion of the United States.


The site was about half way (150 miles (240 km)) between Fort Union and the Cimarron Crossing of the Arkansas River. The camp was originally a stockaded fort, measuring 200 feet (61 m) by 200 feet (61 m). There were six stone buildings that served as officers' quarters, one building that was the quartermaster's store and an unknown number of stone walled tents housing the soldiers. The facility was surrounded by earth and stone breastworks. Only ruins remain; much of the stone has been removed by people wishing to use it in building other structures. The site is on private property and is not accessible to the public. [3]

Fort Union National Monument United States historic place

Fort Union National Monument is a unit of the National Park Service of the United States, and is located north of Watrous in Mora County, New Mexico. The national monument was founded on June 28, 1954.

Arkansas River major tributary of the Mississippi River, United States

The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. It generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's source basin lies in the western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas River Valley, where the headwaters derive from the snowpack in the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges. It then flows east into the Midwest via Kansas, and finally into the South through Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Cedar Spring, about 0.25 miles (0.4) km west of the fort, provided fresh water for the camp and for passing wagon trains. The remains of the Cimarron Cutoff are about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) south of the camp, and are said to be the most impressive remains of the entire trail. [3]

The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and subsequently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [2] [3]

National Historic Landmark formal designation assigned by the United States federal government to historic buildings and sites in the United States

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

National Register of Historic Places Federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

See also

National Register of Historic Places listings in Cimarron County, Oklahoma Wikimedia list article

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Cimarron County, Oklahoma.

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  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  2. 1 2 3 "Camp Nichols". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Joseph Scott Mendinghall (November 26, 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Camp Nichols Ranch" (pdf). National Park Service.Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying 2 photos, from 1970.  (541 KB)
  4. "Oklahoma Legends: Oklahoma Forts of the Old West." Retrieved September 12, 2014.