Forts of the Old West with Krystal M. Anderson

Please join me in welcoming guest author Krystal Anderson to the Junction.

There’s something about standing in front an old western fort that brings that bygone era to life. The chipped stone walls and thick timbers tell a story of conflicts withstood, the battlements and gun ports atop eighteen-foot walls a sense of strength and security.

For many traveling through America’s untamed west, forts were among the only places of safety from Indian attack and harsh elements and were utilized by mail carriers, stagecoach operators, and weary travelers alike. Some, such as Fort Vancouver in Washington, weren’t even established with defense in mind, but industry and commerce. Others served as way stations along main travel routes, such as Fort Benton along the Missouri River in central Montana, or Fort Bridger, Wyoming, which became a vital resupply point for those traveling the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.

In my little corner of Utah there are plenty of old forts to explore, some only remains of crumbled stone wall, that were constructed to protect the herds and homes of local settlers during the Black Hawk War (1865-1870). Recently I took my children to explore historic Cove Fort in central Utah and boy, did it fuel my imagination! Details from that visit will likely carry into many of my future stories.

Cove Fort is rectangular in shape and made of volcanic rock with six rooms on each of the long sides, each with its own chimney. A central courtyard opens in the center, and when those thick wood doors were closed, I don’t see how anything or anyone could have gotten through. Just outside the fort, which also served as a ranch, was a bunkhouse, vegetable garden, ice house, blacksmith shop, derrick, livestock barn, and supply store. It was to imagine how people were able to labor and live in such a place, but I’m certain it was immensely difficult. The women spun their own thread and fashioned rugs and blankets on a loom, scrubbed the laundry, and tended to the fort’s guests in addition to their own families. Years of harsh winters were spent enveloped in the fort’s cold stone walls. Do you think you would have possessed the fortitude to live in a remote, rugged western fort without many of the comforts of the day?


With that fort in mind, I created a fictional fort on the coast of Oregon for my latest story titled Her Keeper’s Heart. Fort Donnelly, I called it, stationed somewhere in Tillamook County. The book’s heroine, a mail-order bride named Orissa, is making her way to the Oregon coast from Connecticut via sailing around Cape Horn when catastrophe strikes. I won’t divulge the details (no spoilers here!), but she and the sailors find sanctuary at industrious Fort Donnelly. And that’s not all she finds there…


I’d like to give away a signed paperback copy of Her Keeper’s Heart to one of you lovely people. To enter, tell me something you couldn’t live without should you have been called upon to man an old western fort. I look forward to reading your responses, and thank.



Living as the assistant keeper at the Puffin Point lighthouse for four years, Leonard Tarby admires everything about his coastal home: sweeping ocean seascapes, lush, tangled forests, and unobstructed views of the stars he enjoys charting. There was only one thing Leonard would change, and that is the absence of a loving bride by his side. Certain the only way to achieve that goal is to send for a bride through the mail, Leonard sits back to wait for her arrival, dreaming of a life of wedded bliss soon to come.

The young lady is soon on her way to Puffin Point but goes missing en route. Is there foul play involved or did she simply get cold feet? Will Leonard ever have a bride of his own?

Find out in this sweet historical romance full of dangers, intrigue, and love, all beneath the ever-watchful beam of a Pacific lighthouse.


To learn more or order a copy, use THIS LINK

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33 thoughts on “Forts of the Old West with Krystal M. Anderson”

  1. I could not live with out my Bible. I am also disabled so I would need to have my walker as well as my caregiver. Thank you for the opportunity.

    • Books by candlelight back then. Stove, too. Looks like you’ll be time traveling with your air conditioner.

  2. I have visited Cove Fort also, Krystal! We have that in common! Plus, I lived in Oregon for many years, I just barely moved to Texas a couple months ago! I think we could be friends 🙂 Your book sounds so intriguing! I definitely couldn’t live in those times of the pioneers! I’m such a wimp! I have many pioneer ancestors and I’m super grateful for them. They walked those trails you mentioned and I can’t imagine their trials.

    • And what did you think of the fort? I was very impressed, though I can’t imagine being confined there during winter. Way too hard.
      Sounds like you’re a well-traveled lady, and I love making new friends. Thanks for commenting!

      • It’s been many years since I went to the fort so it’s kind of hard to remember it. I do remember thinking as you do, hard to be confined there during winter!!!

  3. Hi Krystal,

    This story looks wonderful. I love this time period and often wonder if I was born in the wrong era. My over-optimistic self believes she would do just fine back then. My realistic self is very grateful for her ancestors who paved the way for us today.

    If I were to go back to this time, I would definitely need to have a trusty rifle, for food and defense. I would also want a trustworthy group of families with enough skills diversity that we could survive and grow the area into a thriving town.

    My fiction loving brain appreciates these stories because they feed my soul. I love history and I love the research authors do for their books. I learn so many interesting tid bits.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of your book. Have a great weekend.


    • You’ve a lovely perspective Lisa. I too love experiencing the period through books without having to leave modern comforts behind. Thanks for entering.

  4. The difficulties faced and endured required great strength and tenacity. We are fortunate. I would need comfortable surroundings, heat which I need always, light for reading and electricity for cooking and adequate hot water.

    • Water is such a big one. Can you imagine hauling all the water you’d need? It sounds awful! And hot showers, what a treat. Thanks for entering.

  5. Oh, man, so many things I couldn’t live without!! I’d have to say at the absolute top of my list is my Bible. If it was modern times, A/C would run a very close second!

  6. I think I would really miss indoor plumbing, and electricity. Beyond that though, I think the hardest part would just be the fact you’re so far out from everything and your entire existence is only within those four walls of the fort. Those people had a lot of fortitude that’s for sure.

  7. I wouldn’t be able to live without my favorite horse to get me where I needed to go and back and a trusty dog to protect my home place! Animals were such an important part of life in those days! I love your writing! Thank you for the chance to win a signed copy of Her Keeper’s Heart, Krystal!!

  8. I wouldn’t be able to live without in door plumbing or electricity. Oh, wait! I did live without plumbing and electricity this past winter and I survived. I’m going to have to say books. I take one everywhere I go. Any free time I am reading.
    Thanks for the chance to win a signed copy of Her Keeper’s Heart.

  9. Mittens! It may seem silly, but I’d need warm hands to complete all the necessary tasks you mentioned. Warm ears too. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing about your trip and new book.

  10. Thank you for an interesting post. We have been lucky enough to visit old forts all over the country. From Ft. Ticonderoga which dates back to before the French and Indian War, to Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys and many in between in the East, to Ft. Davis in Texas, Ft. Bridger in Wyoming (for the Rendezvous – awesome), and many others in the midWest and West. Many have been or are being restored and others are still functioning to some degree as a military or government facility. We do seek them out on out trips.
    So sorry I missed the giveaway. My computer time ended up being spent on Red Cross fire calls these past few days. The season is starting early.
    I would like to have books with me including a book on putting in a garden for cooking herbs and medicinal plants, plus information on care for sick and injured people (and domestic animals, too, would probably be a good idea). I never travel light, so answering for what one thing I would need or want is a bit hard to decide. Take care.

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