Fort Bridger State Historic Site
I-80 Exit 34, 3 miles south on Highway 30, Fort Bridger

History of Fort Bridger
“I have established a small fort, with a blacksmith shop and a supply of iron in the road of the emigrants on Black Fork of Green River, which promises fairly…”

In the summer of 1842, mountain man Jim Bridger announced that he was building a trading post, in the road of the emigrants on Black’s Fork of the Green River.” From its beginnings as a log and mud trading post, Bridger’s “fort” matured into a modern frontier military post before the days of the covered wagon emigration were over. The Mormons purchased the fort from Bridger’s partner Louis Vasquez in 1855 and operated it, together with Fort Supply 12 miles to the south, until the fall of 1857. With the onset of the Mormon War and the approach of Johnston’s Army, Mormon proprietor Lewis Robinson burned both forts to the ground before departing for Salt Lake. The U. S. Army assumed ownership and command of Fort Bridger the following year. A very successful ranching operation grew around the Fort under the direction of Post Sutler Judge William A. Carter. With the ranch came settlement and, eventually, the town of Fort Bridger, the only community in Wyoming with direct roots to the earliest days of the Oregon Trail. Today Fort Bridger is operated by the State of Wyoming as an historical attraction.

Thus spoke Jim Bridger in a letter he dictated to would-be suppliers in 1843. While that small fort only lasted a little more than a decade, Bridger’s words did prove to be prophetic. Not only did the location “promise fairly,” it proved to be one of the main hubs of westward expansion used by mountain men and Indians to emigrants and Mormon pioneers, the U.S. Army, the Pony Express, the Overland Stage and the Union Pacific Railroad. If it happened in the opening of the American West, it affected, or was affected by, Fort Bridger.

Established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843 as an emigrant supply stop along the Oregon Trail, it was obtained by the Mormons in the early 1850s, and then became a military outpost in 1858.

In spite of temporary times of abandonment during the Civil War and then again during the late 1870s, Fort Bridger remained U.S. Government property until 1890. After the post was abandoned, many of the buildings constructed by the army were sold at public auction and moved off of the fort grounds to become private homes, barns, bunkhouses and the like. For a time, the buildings that remained were allowed to fall into disrepair. But after a period of neglect, various groups and individuals took interest in preserving and restoring what remained of old Fort Bridger. In 1933 the property was dedicated as a Wyoming Historical Landmark and Museum.

Fort Bridger Annual Mountain Man Rendezous
This exciting annual event is always held on Labor Day Weekend. Over 200 lodges and tepees are set up for the four day event. Traders, buckskinners, mountain men and hunters demonstrate 1840-era crafts and occupations, trade and sell authentic goods, and compete in tomahawk throwing and muzzle loading contests.

Excerpted from Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites Brochure

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