Fort Laramie and the Westward Movement

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In addition to being an important fur trading post and, later, a strategic military installation, Fort Laramie was the most significant outpost of civilization on the Oregon Trail.

The first (true) covered wagon party embarked from what is now Kansas City, Missouri in 1841. Between 1841 and 1867 an estimated 350,000 emigrants crossed the continent on their way to Oregon, California and the Salt Lake Valley.

Fort Laramie was a place to replenish supplies, repair wagons, mail letters (home) and acquire fresh animals for the trail ahead. Here many abandoned their cumbersome wagons and continued the journey with pack mules or on foot. Others lightened their loads, keeping only bare essentials.

As you look across the river you will notice a large, flat, open area. This was a choice campsite for weary travelers.

Imagine, (as far as you can see) covered wagons, cattle and horses grazing and the activities of the evening camp——men unyoking oxen and discussing the trail ahead, women and children building fires and making preparation for the evening meal.

Construction of the first transcontinental railroad in 1867 diminished animal powered overland travel along the trail and led to its eventual abandonment.

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