Fort Laramie National Historic Site, near the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie rivers, preserves the earliest permanent white settlement in Wyoming, known officially as Fort William. When the American Fur Company bought the post in 1836, it became a major fur-trading center. The company replaced the rotting log structure with one of adobe, adding bastions and other fortifications. They changed the name to Fort John on the Laramie, soon shortened to Fort Laramie.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site
©National Park Service
Fort Laramie Barracks represented a welcome sight for pioneers, and today
serves as a reminder of frontier life.

In the 1840s, the fort became an oasis for pioneers following the Oregon Trail. It was the first contact with civilization in more than 300 miles, and it marked the end of the long plains crossing and the beginning of the mountain crossing. The fort capitalized on its strategic location by selling provisions and fresh draft animals -- at outlandish prices -- to the weary travelers. Early relations between Indians and whites were peaceful, but as immigration increased, relations were strained.

In 1849, the federal government bought the fort and made it a military outpost. Soldiers built quarters, stables, and other buildings around a central parade ground. The fort was an important spot for peace councils, and sometimes up to 100 tipis surrounded it. The fort was a bustling center, described by one female traveler in 1866 as "a scene of seeming confusion not surpassed in any popular, overcrowded store of Omaha itself."

When the Park Service acquired the 833-acre site in 1938, many of the buildings were dilapidated or in ruins. A dozen of these structures have been restored to their historic appearance, including the trader's store, the surgeon's quarters, and the cavalry barracks. The most handsome building is "Old Bedlam," a white, balconied structure built in 1849 to house the bachelor officers. It was the center of social life at the fort and a popular site for parties, which probably accounts for the nickname "Bedlam."

Fort Laramie National Historic Site Information

Address: Fort Laramie, WY
Telephone: 307/837-2221
Hours of Operation: Park grounds are open from dawn until dusk every day of the year. The visitor center is open daily at
8 a.m.
, with extended hours during summer.
Admission:
$3

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

Clara Barton National Historic Site

Fort Larned National Historic Site

Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

Adams National Historic Site

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Hampton National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Edison National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Longfellow National Historic Site

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Fort Smith National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Boston African -American National Historic Site

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site

Saint-
Gaudens National Historic Site

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Ford's Theater National Historic Site

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Mc Loughlin House National Historic Site

Sewall -Belmont House National Historic Site

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Ninety Six National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

Christiansted National Historic Site

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Golden Spike National Historic Site

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site

Steamtown National Historic Site


To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.