On the Trail - A Visit to Warm Springs

A Visit to Warm Springs

Today washing machines and hot tubs are everywhere but on the Oregon Trail there was but one. Located only four miles from the present day town of Guernsey, Wyoming the spring is a day’s journey, by wagon, west of Fort Laramie. John C. Fremont visited in 1842 and by 1870 as many as half a million travelers had journeyed west on the Oregon Trail. The Warm Spring, referred to on maps as the Emigrants Laundry Tub, was that place.

Warm Springs, Looking South - Sandy Area from the Flash Flood

The springs, there is both a cool and a warm spring spouting 70 degree plus water, are still actively flowing today. In Oregon Trail days, this area became a dumping ground for everything the travelers could get rid of as they lightened their wagons looking west at the imposing Laramie Range.  Stories abound of graves in the area and Indian battles that once took place there. With the day at the springs over it was but a short day to the crossing on the Bitter Cottonwood.

The Source - Warm Water gurgles from a three-foot high white limestone  bank

This weekend we had a chance to visit the springs and despite the cold and light rain it was a terrific day. Warm Springs is on military land and the only way to visit is by procuring permission from the main office at Camp Guernsey. As long as there is no shooting on the range a few miles away and no active drills near the springs the military is very accommodating of visitors.

Flowing from cold spring east toward the warm spring

The springs were fenced a few years ago to keep livestock from destroying the historically significant area. Unfortunately a flash flood, a year ago, took out the fence and many thought the springs. The springs survived, the fence did not. The California Oregon Trails Association placed two very nice interpretive signs in the area, one survived the flash flood one was broken off and lost.

Nice sign, sorry about the shadow, I was trying to keep my camera out of  the pelting rain and this was the best I could do. I look a bit like a zombie on the sign

Trail Ruts leading up and out of Warm Springs

The military has been a good partner for this area and I am sure the fence will someday be rebuilt. A plan to open this area up to the public is also in the works and will someday become a reality. Before it can happen the military must realign a firing range. This will take both time and money, but it is in the works.
Army Rangers - photo from North Range Drop Zone June, 2014

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