Wyoming Forts 1841-1909

The Forts

Much has been written and numerous movies and Television programs made, that include forts in the west. Many of these fictional accounts were set in, or near Wyoming forts. Of course, Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger are the most prominent, but Wyoming was home to many forts. Most were built for one of two reasons, protect the trails or the rails and their builders. Fort Laramie, established as a military fort in 1841, after more than a decade as a trading post, and Fort Bridger, established in 1842, were the earliest of the Wyoming forts. Others, such as Forts Fetterman, Platte, Phil Kearny, Reno, Russell, and Fred Steel were important but shorter lived.
On the grounds of Fort Laramie 

In Honor of the Chief

When the wars on the plains ended, the forts were no longer needed and were closed. Fort Washakie, established from the old Camp Brown,  (1871-1909),  was kept in operation longer than any of the other forts, likely out of respect for the old chief, it was renamed for in 1878. Chief Washakie, who died in 1900, had long been a friend of the U.S. Government and spent much of his later life working toward a sustainable peace and prosperity for his people. Fort Washakie was kept open until 1909, making it the last of the Wyoming forts to close.

68 Years

1841-1909 is not a long period of time, only 68 years, but it was the time of forts in Wyoming. Those 68 years make up less than an average life span, in today's world, and oddly enough, my present age but that is not relevant here, except to me.
Still tellin' stories at 68

A Lot Can Happen

Throughout all of history, much happens in a span of 50-75 years, check out any year and take a look at what happened over the next 68 years,  you might be surprised. In the 68 years that Wyoming had forts a period of movement, settlement and development took place that American had not seen before, an entire culture was wiped out and America fought with others and itself. 
What was wilderness in 1841 was well know by the early 1900s,
but some places, like this one, are still pretty nice and mostly unchanged

Trivia for a Snowy Day

We had a pretty nice little snowstorm last night and this morning, our deck and back yard have about four or five inches of the heavy wet white stuff.  
It was still snowing here, about nine this morning

Don’t Complain About the Weather

When I was a kid and complained about rain or snow, my dad would often say, “Farmers need the moisture.” He was right, any moisture this time of year is good and we were getting dry, even for a dry area like eastern Wyoming. He also reminded me that there was not much we could do about the weather even if we didn’t like it. Wet days like this help pastures, lawns and wildflowers.
North Platte River this morning - less than 1/4 mile from the Oregon Trail

Wyoming Weather

Wyoming, depending on location gets 9-16 inches of measurable precipitation each year, so every little bit helps.
Rushes in the snow

Trivia from Wyoming

It has been a few weeks since I posted any Wyoming trivia, and a cold, wet, windy March day like today is a perfect trivia day. Here goes five questions to mystify, baffle, surprise, and humor you.  
Bonus Question
Who was President of the United States when this building was constructed?
We are standing at the front door

-Good Luck, answers below next photo-

1. Why was the Organic Act (passed by Congress, July 25, 1868) important to Wyoming?

2. What Wyoming ranching custom is portrayed on the Buffalo in the center of the Wyoming state flag?

3. What is the Crow Indian word meaning, “tattooed?

4. What was the name of the trail that left the Oregon Trail for the Gold Fields of Montana?

5. Reverend William Vaux was the first of these in Wyoming? Hint not a preacher.


Bonus answer - F.D.R. (Museum built by the CCC at Guernsey State Park)

1. Created Wyoming Territory
2. Branding
3. Arapahoe
4. Bozeman Trail

5. First Wyoming teacher at first Wyoming school – 1852, Fort Laramie. -- I should note here that for most of the years of its existence, the school at the fort was taught by soldiers given that duty, or forced into that duty, most, if not all, hated it. In at least one case, a soldier was relieved of his teaching duties and put in the brig, for being drunk on the job.

Hey, Don't Do That - Not Here!

Often, when doing research, for a new book I run across stories that are just too good to not pass on.

The Trader
Such is the tale of early Wyoming, would be trader, H. E. Palmer. Shortly after the Civil War, Palmer came west intending to set up a post to trade with both Indians and whites. The war in the east may have been over in 1866, but in the west, it was only beginning. Palmer hired three interpreters, all part Native Indian, brought along four wagon loads of goods and built a store.  The store on Clear Creek, near present-day Buffalo, he built with the best available material – sod.
Nice Soddy south of Scottsbluff,  Nebraska

His Grand Opening
His first customers, a group of Cheyenne warriors arrived and Palmer was ready to trade. He offered his pipe, well packed with tobacco, and all smoked. Palmer was sure this, a sign of peace would be great for his trading business. Instead of buying they tossed aside everything but their weapons and told Palmer to leave.  The chief told Palmer they would let him and his men go if they would get off this Buffalo land immediately.

Well – That Didn’t Last Long
After leaving with nothing but their wagons and the clothes on their backs the Cheyenne took the sod trading post apart and relayed the sod where it had been pulled from the earth. Like many hunting and wandering people, the Cheyenne did not farm and could see no reason to destroy mother earth by taking up the sod, even if it were to build a trading post that would soon be lost in history.
It is interesting to note that Indians on the Plains to the East had been building with sod for generations, but not out here. Wyoming was teepee country.

The Buffalo in History
“Historically the Buffalo had more influence on man than all other Plains animals combined. It was life, food, raiment, and shelter to the Indians. He buffalo and the Plains Indians lived together, and together passed away.”

Walter Prescott Webb from, The Great Plains, published 1931, Ginn and Company

The Harbinger of an Early Spring

What? A Vacation in March!

We took a short vacation this week and headed southeast Nebraska to see friends and family. On the way, we stopped over in Grand Island, Nebraska,  to see the beginning of the northern migration of the Sandhill’s Crane. They are spectacular, in action, size, and sheer number, as the birds make their annual trip north.
Great Looking Birds

Sandhills Crane

Several tribes in the West told stories and had clans named after the Crane, although most, of these tribes, are to the south, east or north of Wyoming. Our state does have cranes passing through twice each year, and I have watched and listened to them many times as they do their fly over. The long and lean birds make a most unusual sound, one I find quite pleasant to the ear. Though they do not live here, we see them twice each year, going south and again coming back. This year, they are more than a month early, if this behavior is as good a predictor of weather as legend and lore say, it looks like an early spring and summer.

Photos of Wildlife

I enjoy getting a chance to photograph animals in Wyoming and surrounding states, one of the great things about living “out west.” Often I wonder about myths, legends, and stories that surround the animals I photograph.
Tried a few dark shots - lots of Cranes sitting on the Platte River

Back to the Grind Stone

Fun times, a nice break, and now it looks like I will get back to work on my books, oh, and play some golf. 
Jumping and Showing off

A Retired Life

Today some true Wyoming facts, all presented in photos.
15 miles west of town and the traffic does not appear to be too heavy

Nothing like a drive on a nice spring day. I know it is not spring yet, but it is sure starting to look like it.
Mountain stream running blue and cold

We took a drive out of town toward the Laramie Range yesterday, it was spectacular.

And a little closer to our pickup this little guy
The Pronghorn are in big bunches right now and make for some interesting photo opportunities.
A Raven amidst the Pronghorn

The snow up high always makes the mountains look perfect, with the big spring runoff yet to come.
Looks a bit like a painting

Thought today I would just blog out a few photos that I took on our trip.

Total trip, 72 miles, 36 out, turn around and 36 back. Only a couple of hours but most enjoyable.
The end of our trip, about three feet deep, we turned around and headed home
This was our view after we turned around