Fort Steele

Located 12 miles east of Rawlins on Highway 80, then north two miles along the west bank of the Platte River, Fort Steele stands just across the Union Pacific tracks. It was established in 1868 as a fort to protect the Overland Stage Line and the Union Pacific railroad from Indian attacks. Four companies evolved comprised of three hundred men; the companies served to safeguard travelers and to construct the fort. Soon afterward, a town half-mile to the south was born, named Brownsville. Due to its numerous saloons and gambling joints, the Army forced Brownsville off government land. The town relocated three miles west of the fort and renamed itself Benton.

Records indicate that Fort Steele’s Army never once encountered a battle. The west side of the fort was “Officers Row,” and the east side contained the men’s barracks, laundries, and a sawmill. Passing through on the south side was the railroad. In 1886, the fort was abandoned. Eight years later, the property was purchased by the Cosgriff Brothers for one hundred dollars. Soon after converting the buildings to stores and residences, fire destroyed much of the town, and the remaining buildings became the property of the Leo Sheep Company. Today, many of the buildings are foundations or depressions in the ground.

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