Jim Bridger Architect

In 1862, President Lincoln signed a bill that created the Union Pacific Railway Company. General Dodge and other government officials were unsure of which route through Wyoming would be the best, follow the Oregon Trail or take a more southern route. So they called in America’s foremost authority on the Rocky Mountains, Jim Bridger. Word was sent to Bridger in St. Louis that he was needed in Denver on important business.

When Bridger arrived in Denver, the engineers showed him their plans and asked the old mountain man where the best place to cross the mountains might be. Bridger asked for a piece of paper, grabbed a charcoal burned stick out of the fire and preceded to draw a map of the Rockies in Colorado and Wyoming. Never one to miss a chance to take a job at government officials, Bridger told them they should have saved their money, he could have drawn the map in St. Louis, but he was secretly grateful for this one last chance to visit his beloved Rockies.

On that little sheet of paper Bridger drew the exact rout that the transcontinental railroad followed across the state of Wyoming. The railroad still follows that same route today, through the rugged pass between Cheyenne and Laramie. Later Interstate 80 paralleled the transcontinental railroad across Wyoming. Making ol’ Gabe (Jim Bridger) not only a mountain man but a builder of railroads and interstates, Bridger may have never learned to read and write but he was one fine map maker and architect.
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