Home > Uncategorized > Ft. Laramie – a Portrait of Manifest Destiny

Ft. Laramie – a Portrait of Manifest Destiny

Trappers, Indians, emigrants, soldiers, prospectors, tourists – these people and more passed through Ft. Laramie in southeastern Wyoming throughout the 1800s. Located on the Laramie River trappers picked the sight in the 1830s as a place to trade furs. It became a much needed resting spot for travelers of the Oregon and Mormon trails in the 1850s. As more people moved west looking for land or gold the soldiers were kept busy dealing with the Sioux who resented whites traveling across their land. The skirmishes diminished in the 1860s only to start again when gold was found in the black hills in 1874. Fort Laramie then became a stop on the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage line as prospectors, gunmen and tourists flooded into Deadwood.

 With the building of the train from Cheyenne to Deadwood in the 1880s the fort became unnecessary, but not forgotten. Preservation of Ft. Laramie began in the 1930s and much of the fort now looks like it did in its heyday.  Today Ft. Laramie National Historic Site is managed by the National Park Service and stands as a visual history of western expansion. It is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in the history of the American west.

I visited Fort Laramie several years ago. My most vivid memory of the site is not the historic buildings, but the absence of anything modern. As you stand at the edge of the fort and look west you can easily imagine what the emigrants must have seen and felt as they got ready to leave the safety of Fort Laramie and head into the great unknown looking for a better life.

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