Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Fort Laramie

Must see · National Park · Historic Site
Fort Laramie (founded as Fort William and known for a while as Fort John) was a significant 19th-century trading post, diplomatic site, and military installation located at the confluence of the Laramie and the North Platte rivers. They joined in the upper Platte River Valley in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Wyoming. The fort was founded as a private trading post in the 1830s to service the overland fur trade; in 1849, it was purchased by the United States Army. It was located east of the long climb leading to the best and lowest crossing point of the Rocky Mountains at South Pass and became a popular stopping point for migrants on the Oregon Trail. Along with Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River, the trading post and its supporting industries and businesses were the most significant economic hub of commerce in the region.

Fort William was founded by William Sublette and his partner Robert Campbell in 1834. In the spring of 1835, Sublette sold the fort to Thomas Fitzpatrick, a local fur trader. After the Rendezvous of 1836, it was sold to the American Fur Company, which still had a virtual monopoly on the western fur trade. Starting as early as the fall of 1840, the American Fur Company began competing with the newly established Fort Platte, built by L.P. Lupton.

The American Fur Company hired workers from Santa Fe to construct an adobe fort to replace Fort William. This fort was named Fort John, after John Sarpy, a partner in the company. In 1849, United States Army purchased the fort as a post to protect the many wagon trains of migrant travelers on the Oregon Trail, and the subsidiary northern emigrant trails which split off further west. These included the California and Mormon trails. The middle reaches of the Mormon trail stayed on the north banks of the Platte and North Platte rivers, and merged with the other emigrant trails heading west over the continental divide from Fort John-Laramie. The name Fort Laramie came into gradual use, likely as a convenient shortening of "Fort John at the Laramie River".

The remaining structures are preserved as the Fort Laramie National Historic Site by the National Park Service.
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Fort Laramie National Historic Site reviews

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433 reviews
  • My son and I decided to take the drive from our hotel in SD to visit Fort Laramie. It was well worth the 3 hour drive! The rangers were super nice and the buildings, some of which were closed, were...  more »
  • We visited at an off time. Lots of the buildings were not available to view. We enjoyed the chance to walk the ground and enjoy the views. A number of the original buildings have been restored...  more »
  • Really enjoyed. I love reading books about the western migration and it was great to get to see where some of it happened. There is an audio tour you can do for $3 per person that takes about 1-1/2 hours but we decided just to use the map and read the signs. It was lunch time and getting hot. Would definitely recommend.
  • This National Park was very interesting. The visitor's center has fascinating displays about life on the old frontier. The restored buildings gave us a good idea of what the soldiers were dealing with to do their jobs. We enjoyed the Ranger's talk about the buglers.

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