Significant Characters Who
Passed Through Fort Laramie

Robert Stuart
The first known white person to visit the site that would eventually become Fort Laramie. Stuart and his traveling companions camped at the mouth of the Laramie River on December 22, 1812 on their return trip to St. Louis from Fort Astoria, Oregon. Stuart inadvertently discovered the route that would later become the Oregon Trail.

Jacques Laramee
A French fur trapper, rumored to have been killed by Indians on the stream that would take his name. Laramee is a shadowy character of whom we know very little. However, he now has a river, fort, town, city, county, mountain range, a peak, and plains all named after him.

Jedediah S. Smith
Famous mountain man and one of the first to exploit the fur resources of the Fort Laramie region. He led William H. Ashley’s expedition into the central Rocky Mountains in 1823.

Thomas Fitzpatrick
Also known as Broken Hand, co-led the Ashley expedition with Jed Smith. Fitzpatrick became one of the best known of the mountain men. He purchased Fort William with his associates in the spring of 1835. Later he served as a guide for the first true emigrant wagon train, the Bidwell-Bartelson party, in 1841. In 1847, he was appointed as Indian Agent to the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux, and in 1851, was instrumental in the success of the “Horse Creek” Treaty.

James Bridger
Probably the most famous of the mountain men and a frequent visitor to Fort Laramie. Bridger gained most of his fame as a fur trapper but was also much sought after as a competent guide by emigrants and military alike. In his later years, Bridger spent many hours at Fort Laramie, “spinning yarns” for anybody who would listen. He is rumored to have had a room in the Post Trader’s Store, where he wintered in 1867 while recovering his health.

Kit Carson
Although Carson’s fame was gained mostly on the Southern Plains, he nevertheless passed through Fort Laramie on many different occasions. Like most of the other famous guides of the period, Carson got his start in the fur trade. One of the little known phases of Carson’s career was as a sheepman. He passed through Fort Laramie in 1853 with 6,500 head in route to California where he could turn a 100% profit.

Robert Campbell & William Sublette
Formed a partnership in 1832 to compete in the fur trade. After being driven from the Upper Missouri, the partners became active in the central Rocky Mountain fur trade. Sensing a change in the fur trade industry, Campbell and Sublette decided to erect a fixed trading post to take advantage of the buffalo trade with the local natives. Campbell and Sublette selected the junction of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers for their new post—Fort William, the first Fort Laramie. Campbell later went on to become active in Indian affairs. He attended the Treaty Council of 1851 and was appointed to the Board of Indian Affairs in 1869. Sublette added to his fame as a guide when he led Sir William Drummond Stewart’s party in 1843.

Alfred Jacob Miller
Accompanied Sir William Drummond Stewart on his 1837 expedition. Miller was an accomplished artist. Among Miller’s portraits of the western landscape through which he passed, are drawings and paintings of Fort William. Thus, he became the first artist to record the Fort Laramie landscape. His work now resides in some of the most renowned art galleries in the country.

Donner Party
This famous company of emigrants passed through Fort Laramie in 1846. They were destined to be remembered because of the fateful decision to take the Hastings Cutoff south of the Great Salt Lake. This decision caused travel delays that allowed the train to get caught in the mountain snows of the High Sierra. Of the original 81 in the party, only 45 survived the tribulations of the winter. Thirty-six members of the company either froze or starved to death.

Francis Parkman
At age 23, he made his famous journey on the Oregon Trail, “a tour of curiosity and amusement.” As a product of this trip, he published The Oregon Trail, in 1849, an American classic. During this trip, he stopped at Fort Laramie and left a vivid description of life at the post. Parkman later went on to write an eight volume history of France and England in North America, as well as the History of the Conspiracy of the Pontiac.

John C. Fremont
United States Army officer, passed through Fort John—the second Fort Laramie—in July of 1842 on his first expedition to the Rocky Mountains. Fremont recommended the site of Fort Laramie in his report of the expedition as a logical choice for a military post. Fremont visited Fort Laramie again in 1847, while being escorted east for his court martial by General Stephen Watts Kearny.

Colonel Stephen W. Kearny
In the spring of 1845, Kearny was detailed to take five companies of dragoons as far as South Pass to impress the Indians and to study problems associated with overland travel. On June 16th he met 1200 Sioux at Fort Laramie and told them not to disturb the emigrants or molest their persons or property. He then “fired several shots with his howitzer, followed at darkness by a burst of rockets to tell the Great Spirit that they had listened to his words.”

Brigham Young
Leader of the Mormon pioneer movement. He led the first group of Mormons to their Zion, the valley of the Great Salt Lake, in 1847. Young and this first group of pioneers camped near Fort Laramie on June 1, 1847. Brigham Young conceived and implemented the handcart system in 1856.

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