Fort Fetterman
State Historic Site

Near Douglas, WY

Fort Fetterman was a military post established in July 1867 along the Bozeman Trail. It was situated south of the North Platte River, and thus was excluded from the provisions of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. That treaty called for the abandonment of Forts Kearny, C.F. Smith, and Reno to the north. So Fort Fetterman was the northernmost military fort in eastern Wyoming. Its function was to protect travelers on the Bozeman Trail and to act as a supply and assembly point for army operations against plains Indians in the mid-1870s. 

The fort was named for Captain William J. Fetterman, who was killed in a famous fight with American Indians near Fort Phil Kearny in December 1866. (In that fight Fetterman and a detachment of 80 men were wiped out in a clever trap sprung by the Indians.) 

The location of the fort was bleak, and it was considered a hardship post by troops. Desertions were frequent, supplies inadequate, and water from the river inconvenient to service the fort. 

It was visited by people like Jim Bridger, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill Cody.  

The fort was abandoned by the military in 1882. A small town called Fetterman City developed on the site and it thrived for a while as a social center and supply point for area ranchers and cattlemen. The novelist Owen Wister incorporated the town into his novel “The Virginian”, widely regarded as the first Western. In the novel he called it Drybone.  

The saloon/brothel north of the river, known as the Hog Ranch, was notorious throughout the region. 

In 1886 the town of Douglas was established to the southeast on the railroad and that killed Fetterman City. 

Not much is left of the fort. Only two buildings remain, an officers’ quarters and the ordnance building. Both buildings now contain exhibits. The grounds are marked by explanatory plaques noting former locations of buildings of the old fort. A gazebo sits on the small rise on the north end of the fort grounds pleasantly overlooking the North Platte River. 

I visited the historic site in June of 2016 and took a bunch of pictures. Enjoy.