Fort Fetterman

On July 31, 2016, Fort Fetterman turned 149 years old. Fetterman became an unnamed military fort on July 18, 1867. It was designated as a supply fort for the Indian wars. Two weeks after it opened it got its name, Fort Fetterman. The wooden fort was named after Captain William J. Fetterman who along with his entire company of 81 men was killed near Fort Phil Kearny seven months earlier.

Fort Fetterman today

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Within a few years, Fetterman reached the pinnacle of its success serving as the starting point for several Indian expeditions. After only 15 years, in 1882, the government gave up on the fort. The Indian wars were all but over, and the government no longer needed the fort. But it didn’t go away, not immediately.  It went on to enjoy a brief life as a woolly and wild frontier town, but by 1886 it was only a memory.

Fort Fetterman lives on, yet today in history, through the stories of famous people who passed through. Calamity Jane spent some time there; stories vary widely as to how much, and the writings of Owen Wister are only two areas that perpetuate the life of the fort. Wister, most famous for writing, The Virginian, describes Fort Fetterman City (after the closure of the fort) in his novel, Lin McLean, published in 1897. He changes the name calling the fictitious city, “Drybone,” but it is unmistakable that he wrote about Fetterman City.

A Stream a few miles west of the fort

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