Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Interpretive Signs

The text here was taken off the signs that are posted as you walk around the site. The references to viewing and photos are for those actually on location.

Through a succession of accidental fires, Fort Laramie’s sawmills gained a reputation of being ill-fated. The lime-grout building erected upon this site in 1887 was the last of several such structures that sheltered steam engines used for sawing wood and pumping water.

Site of Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Station
Cheyenne 93 Miles (arrow pointing to the right)
213 Miles (arrow pointing to the left) Deadwood

The Rustic Hotel
The Rustic Hotel opened in 1876. During that year it probably provided the best accommodations for travelers between Cheyenne and the Black Hills. It also served as a station for the Cheyenne-Black Hills State and Express Line.

By 1883, when this photograph was taken one lady traveler found “horrid little bugs” in the sheets. Three years later, the stage station corrals were polluting the fort’s water supply and had to be removed.

The Post Hospital
These walls are all that remain of a twelve-bed hospital built on this in 1873-1874. The 1888 photograph shows the hospital in better days, with spacious verandas, flower gardens and picket-fenced yard. Posing in the garden is Post Surgeon Brechemin and enlisted men of the Medical Department. The site selected for the hospital had been used as a post cemetery prior to 1867. Six burials found within the lines of construction were first moved to a nearby cemetery, and finally to Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Nebraska.

Noncommissioned Officers Quarters
A six-unit apartment, built on this site in 1884, was the best housing available for married enlisted men until the abandonment of the post in 1890. Pictured in 1885, it usually housed ranking NCOs such as Chief Post Musician, Post Quartermaster Sergeant or Regimental Quartermaster Serveant.

Post Ordnance Sergeant Schnyder and his family lived in the next-to-last apartment during the final two years of his 35-year Fort Laramie residency.

Site of Workshops, Storehouses and Stables
Extending from here to the river was a succession of storehouses and workshops that supplied goods and services to the army. As much as 500,000 pounds of grain were stored here in addition to coal, oil, paint, hay, wood and other quartermaster supplies.

Since soldiers were seldom skilled workers, as many as 100 civilians were hired in Denver, Omaha and Cheyenne to serve as wheelwrights, blacksmiths, carpenters, saddlers and laborers. These men received rations and shelter in addition to $30 to $100 a month.

To the left once stood stables, a constant source of aggravation to the shovel-wielding soldier.

Cavalry Barracks
The building before you is the only surviving enlisted men’s barracks at Fort Laramie. The building proper was completed in late 1874 and was designed to provide quarters and other needed support facilities for two companies of soldiers. The veranda, although originally planned, was not added until 1883. As constructed the entire second floor was made up of only two equal, large rooms. These were the company dormitory bays or squad rooms where the enlisted soldiers lived. Each could house about sixty soldiers or one company. On the first floor below each squad room, the building was divided into a kitchen, messroom, cook’s room, storage room, wash room, library, armory and orderly room for the N.C.O. ‘s and non-commissioned officers room.

The Sutler’s House
The Victorian-style cottage, built in 1863 and shown in this 1868 photograph, must have been a strange sight on the untamed Northern Plains.

Sometime between 1875 and 1882, the cottage was replaced by a much larger lime-grout structure, used by the Sutler or his agents until the abandonment of the post in 1890.

Commissary Storehouse
This building was completed in 1884. It was built as a commissary storage facility. As such it would have been primarily divided into two large storerooms: one for meat and one for flour, rice, and beans. Three or four smaller rooms would have been used as offices, an “issue room” and a storage room for canned goods. This building also had a partial cellar with a trap door for use with a hand-operated elevator. Rations and other official Army food items were issued from this building. A commissary officer and sergeant ran the operation.

The Post Bakeries
Four different bakeries operated successively at Fort Laramie. The remains of two bakeries stand before you. The nearer, built in 1876, was used until 1884, when it was converted into a school. A bakery built upon the far site operated from 1884 until 1890. Army bakers produced one eighteen-ounce loaf daily for each man at the fort. With a garrison numbering as many as 700 men, imagine the production that resulted!

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