Over the years, Fort Laramie was known by a few different names. Originally established in 1834 as a private fur trading fort, the small stockade was first named Fort William in honor of its founder William Sublette. In 1841, that log fort was replaced by a new and larger adobe structure and called Fort John. The government purchased Fort John in 1849 for $4,000, and officially named it Fort Laramie. After a military presence was no longer needed, and trading had run its course, the post was abandoned and auctioned off in 1890. Although homesteaders bought and lived in some of the fort buildings, many deteriorated over the following 48 years, until becoming part of the national park system in 1938. Preservation efforts continue to this day.
Examples of the restored and furnished buildings you can walk through include:
Lt. Colonel’s Quarters (Burt House): Built in 1884 at a cost of $4,730, Lt. Col. Andrew Burt, a 7th US Infantry officer, and his wife Elizabeth lived in the home from 1887-1888. The Burt’s furnishings were rather plain compared to the ornate décor used in most officers’ houses during the Victorian period.
The Captain’s Quarters were constructed in 1870 by the Engineer Dept. of the US Army for an estimated $15,000. This two-story wood frame structure has a partial basement, stone foundation, and is split into residences with living and bedroom spaces, as well as kitchen and dining areas.
The Cavalry Barracks were built in 1874 for about $8,000. This two-story building has 42 rooms consisting of kitchens, dining halls, offices, sleeping bays, private bedrooms, and living spaces. It’s furnished to look like soldiers still live here and are expected to return any moment for their evening meal.
IF YOU GO:
Fort Laramie National Historic Site is located in southeast Wyoming approximately 100 miles north of Cheyenne, Wyoming and 55 miles west of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
The park grounds are open from dawn until dusk every day of the year. The Fort Museum and Visitor Center is open daily (with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day) at 8:00 am, with extended hours during the Summer, June through August. FREE admission.
From Interstate-25, take exit 92 to U.S. Highway 26, proceed east to the town of Fort Laramie; turn right on State Route 160 and travel 3 miles to the park entrance.
From U.S. Highways 26/85, proceed west from the town of Lingle on Highway 26 to the town of Fort Laramie; turn left on State Route 160 and travel 3 miles to the park entrance.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com