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The first site of Fort Wingate, established around 1849, was at Seboyeta. From there it was moved south and west to a site near Ojo del Gallo, where Hispanic settlers had created a small community, now San Rafael, around the spring of that name. The site of the fort appeared as Hay Camp on an 1850 map, and many people at El Gallo earned money selling hay to the fort. In 1862, the fort was named Fort Wingate, for Capt. Benjamin Wingate, who had died that year at the Battle of Valverde.
IN 1868, Fort Wingate was moved again, to its present location, occupying what had previously been named Fort Fauntleroy and then Fort Lyon. Fort Fauntleroy had been established in 1860 by Col. Thomas T. ("Little Lord") Fauntleroy, who named it for himself. But in 1862, Fauntleroy resigned from the US Army to join the Confederacy, and the fort was quickly renamed Fort Lyon, for Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, who died fighting for the Union. It remained Fort Lyon until 1868, when it became Fort Wingate.
Fort Fauntleroy/Lyon/Wingate was located at Ojo del Oso (Spanish for "spring of the bear"), a translation of its Navajo name. Navajos tell that a bear once frequented the spring, and a warrior on a war party, hoping to gain success, cast offerings into the spring for the bear. The raid was successful, and in gratitude the warrior named the spring.
Fort Wingate was an active military installation for much longer than most frontier forts. As Fort Wingate Army Depot, it was used for munitions storage from 1918 until its closure in 1992.