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Fort Laramie Wy - Moving West On Wagon Wheels
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© Christine Till
Fort Laramie (originally founded as Fort William and then known for a while as Fort John) is located at confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers in southeast Wyoming.
One of the most important forts in the settlement of the American West, Fort Laramie served many functions throughout its history. As America expanded westward, this outpost in the Wyoming wilderness played a crucial role in the transformation of the West, first as fur-trading center, then as military garrison. For over five decades, it was a landmark and way station for the cavalcade of trappers, traders, missionaries, emigrants, Pony Express riders, and miners wending their way west. The road to the Far West soon became known by another name - the Oregon Trail. Even today, ruts from the wagon wheels remain etched indelibly in the fragile topsoil of the Western landscape.
Founded by William Sublette in 1834 as a trading post "Laramai's Point" became a military post for the government during the 1850's and 1860's. The Great Migration of 1843 brought close to a thousand people to Fort Laramie and throughout the 1840's wagons increased in numbers peaking in the 1850's to 50,000 annually. Fort Laramie was one of the few supply points on the long journey. It was also an important staging point for the U. S. Army in its dealings with the plains tribes displaced by migration and settlement, and served as a base of operations for the High Plains Indian Wars.
As the Indian Wars came to a close Fort Laramie's importance diminished. The post was abandoned and sold at public auction in 1890. Over the next 48 years, it nearly succumbed to the ravages of time. Preservation of the site was secured, however, in 1938 when Fort Laramie became part of the National Park System.
April 15th, 2013
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