7/21/96 - T+20 - Frontier Days
Today's guided tour will be of Fort Laramie Nation Park. Fort Laramie as built in the
middle 1800's as an outpost to the new west. It's original purpose was to provide
protection for settlers following the Oregon Trail. Later on it became the main staging
point for troops disembarking to the Indian wars.
As forts go, Fort Laramie was one of the
first built in the format that we now use, where the fort is actually a small city for the
soldiers. Fort Laramie had no walls surrounding it. They were originally planned but the
budget was never approved and it was decided that they weren't needed anyway. The center
of the fort is this large parade ground. This was used for forming up the troops,
inspections, and yes, parades each Sunday. Because this was the jumping off point to the
wild west, the troops needed this area to form up their ranks before marching out of camp.
In this picture you see the rows of buildings that surround the parade grounds. Most all
of the building in the camp are built in this circle. Later on improvements were added so that there were board walks and white
picket fences between the buildings and the parade grounds. In it's later years the fort
was quite a comfortable place to be, well for being in the wild west that is.
Here we see inside one of the barracks of a company of cavalry soldiers. There were
two companies of cavalry permanently stationed here and many others passed through on
their way out west. These barracks don't look that much different from modern day
While the enlisted men stayed in the
barracks, the officers has their own quarters. Most of the officers were married and
brought their wives out west with them. They lived in houses built on the fort grounds for
them. This picture is of "Old Bedlam" which has the distinction of being the
oldest military building in Wyoming. It is one of the original buildings in Fort Laramie.
It was originally used as company headquarters and for administration. Later on it was
converted to housing for the bachelor officers. I guess you could say that this is the
early version of the BOQ. The name "Old Bedlam" came from the many parties that
the bachelor officers threw and the bedlam that could be heard coming from this house.
While the forts original purpose was to
guard wagon trains, it's role in history was quickly expanded. Fort Laramie became one of
the primary stops in the Pony Express. After 18 months of operation, the Pony Express was
replaced by trans. continental telegraph. Fort Laramie was once again a primary location
and relay station for the telegraph. It's troops were tasked with the security and repair
of the telegraph wires. This monument is placed in memory of the service provided by Fort
Laramie to both the Pony Express and the Telegraph.
After our tour of Fort Laramie is was back on the road and headed south. I crossed over
the 41 parallel and into Colorado. I can smell California now! The GPS says we have 890
miles to home. Well that's as the crow flies but I know we can be home in 16 hours from
here. I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, my day off in Casper left me
caught up on the rest, I'm still feeling the grind of the constant travel. Sancho and I
have been getting on each other's nerves lately, I think we are both getting a little
burned out. Maybe we need to go and blow off some steam. Part of me is excited to be this
close to home and wants to run out to the car right now and burn up those miles. The other
part of me is seeing the end of the adventure and seeing it come to an end. Who knows,
this is all the babbling of a tired nomad. I've heard it all becomes clear at the
continental divide. I hope so. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
I've shacked up in Highlands Rancho CO at one of my dearest friends house, Kevin and
Jodie. I haven't seen their son Cody in 2 years. Boy has he grown. I'd never meet their
daughter, who's name I'd love to tell you but I have no idea, (Hey Mary, the name thing is
getting better but it's not completely cured. I think it might be stress related.) Anyway,
it's great to get together with old friends and to meet new portions of their families.
I hope you and your families are also having great days!