Almost 200 years ago, trappers, fur traders, Native Americans, missionaries, emigrants, soldiers, miners, ranchers, and homesteaders conducted business and left their mark on a place made famous in southeast Wyoming, Fort Laramie.
The History Behind the Name Fort Laramie
Fort Laramie is a small, historic town located in Goshen County, Wyoming. Goshen County is unique in that it produces more cattle annually than any other Wyoming county.
This small town has about 230 people who call it home and gets its name from an actual fort, Fort Laramie.
The Timeline of How Fort Laramie Came to Be
And it all started with fur traders and trappers headed for the Rocky Mountains.
- 1820s – Fur traders and trappers turned the route up the Platte and North Platte Rivers into a thoroughfare.
- 1832 – While on leave, U. S. Army Captain Benjamin Bonneville took an interest in the fur trading business. He brought a caravan of wagons through the valley creating even more of a thoroughfare.
- 1840s and 50s – The route created served as the road to Oregon, California, and Utah.
- Late 1850s – This route was the road to travel for regularly scheduled stagecoaches carrying passengers and the U.S. mail.
- April 1860 to November 1861 – The famous and short-lived Pony Express, carried mail from Missouri to California. Fort Laramie served as a Pony Express station. The transcontinental telegraph, completed in October 1861, followed the same route as the Pony Express.
- September 1876 to February 1887 – The Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Road traveled this route from Cheyenne north to the gold fields of Dakota Territory.
Fort Laramie’s Timeline Explained
Fort William, built in 1834, was the first permanent settlement in the Goshen County area. It was a trading post built south of town across the North Platte River, at the mouth of the Laramie River built by fur traders Robert Campbell and William Sublette. The original wood stockade buildings were built to form a small rectangle measuring only 100 by 80 feet. But it was best known as the fort on the Laramie, or Fort Laramie, rather than Fort William.
The original structures deteriorated, so men employed by the American Fur Company built a new post in 1841. And they named it Fort John. However, this adobe-walled post was still popularly called Fort Laramie. It was a major stop for those traveling west on the Oregon, California and Mormon trails to replenish supplies, collect their mail, wash clothes, and rest.
Fort Laramie was purchased by the United States government in 1849 and evolved into the largest and best known military post on the Northern Plains. It served as a staging point for various military excursions and treaty signings during the years of the Indian wars on the Northern Plains. As the Indian wars came to a close, Fort Laramie’s importance faded. So this “grand old post” was abandoned and sold at public auction in 1890.
It nearly caved in to the ravages of time over the next 48 years. But preservation of the site was secured in 1938 when the fort became part of the National Park System.
Wagon ruts, the names of places, and historic sites are all evidence of the activities of Fort Laramie’s many travelers. And they can be found here in Goshen County.
Fort Laramie Bed and Breakfast
And just six miles north of this small, historic Wyoming town lies an authentic western bed and breakfast named Fort Laramie Bed and Breakfast.
We’re proud to serve our guests and help them experience the rich history of Fort Laramie and the American West. We’re open May through September. Contact Arnold or Kathy Tollefson at (307) 200-9332 to book your stay today. Come visit us to experience the American west on the Cowboy Way Ranch this spring or summer.
Open on a limited basis October thru April