Fort Laramie

I have visited the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming many times over the years. It is one of my favorites and it played a very important part in Western history.

It was started in 1834 as a post to trade with Indians, particularly the Lakota (Sioux), for buffalo robes mainly, but for other furs as well. The fort was first names Fort William and a newer version was called Fort John. As the fur trade declined, the fort found an increasing role catering to westward bound emigrants. Fort Laramie became as important milestone for the thousands of people headed for Oregon, California, and Utah.

In 1849 the U.S. Army bought the post and named it Fort Laramie. Over many years the fort expanded greatly, and it became the primary hub for communication and transportation in the Central Rocky Mountain region. Pioneer trails, stage lines, the Pony Express, and then the transcontinental telegraph all passed through Fort Laramie.  The fort saw trappers, traders, Native Americans, missionaries, emigrants, soldiers, miners, ranchers and homesteaders.

Important treaties with the Northern Plains Indians were signed at Fort Laramie. The Treaty of 1868 is still controversial and contested. What started out as a peaceful trading post became a headquarters for major campaigns against the Northern Plains Indians as the latter fiercely resisted the increasing waves of white miners, ranchers, and settlers overwhelming their homelands.

Eventually the Army no longer needed the fort and it was sold in 1890. It was more or less abandoned and scavenged for lumber and building materials. Preservation, restoration, and reconstruction was begun in 1938 when Fort Laramie became part of the National Park System.

I took this picture standing on the hill on which the post hospital was located.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site:

This is the cavalry barracks at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. The interior has been equipped to show how the soldiers lived with bunks, stoves, mess hall, etc. (Note carefully the spelling of “cavalry”. I often hear it pronounced as if it were spelled  “calvary”.

The bachelor officers’ quarters (BOQ) at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. In the background you can see one of the many ruins at the fort.