Sunday we left Pinedale, WY and made our way to Fort Laramie, WY. It was a beautiful drive with ever-changing terrain. We followed the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail, and Pony Express Route for much of the way. It was amazing to look out at the rolling hills, rugged rocky areas, and arid plains and imagine covered wagons making their way across. The strength and determination of the pioneers is really incredible.
I was so excited to visit Fort Laramie! When I was younger, I spent a lot of time reading stories about pioneers crossing this great country in search of land, money, adventure, religious freedom, or simply a different life. I was particularly engrossed by the stories of women who made the crossing. Their diaries describe astonishing courage, fortitude, and sheer tenacity that I found inspiring as well as impressive. Fort Laramie is a familiar highlight in just about every one of these stories of general struggle and hardship. The joy and relief felt at the site of this fort was a common experience among these adventurers.
Pictures from our visit to Fort Laramie –
There were many interesting things to see at Fort Laramie, including the oldest house in Wyoming. Volunteers, dressed in period costumes, told facts and stories about the history of the fort. We were even served root beer and sarsaparilla by a gentleman working at the old bar (much had been rebuilt, but we were told the floor was the original.). Thanks to the CCC many buildings had been restored or rebuild. One of the most interesting signs explained the history of education on the fort. There was a school early on in its history (1852), but it was hard to recruit qualified teachers and even harder to keep them. Some teachers would actually get drunk in order to be fired from the position. When a qualified teacher was unavailable, soldiers would be paid an extra 35 cents a day to teach the children. The sign went on to say that “a few soldiers made good teachers, most did not.” One man who grew up on the fort recalled a time when two deserters, in shackles, were forced to teach his class!
Pictures from Register Rock–
Register Rock (Register Cliff) is one of the spots along the trail that pioneers carved their names into rock as a lasting sign that they had been there. It is an interesting piece of history, knowing that each of those names has a story. Sadly, there is a lot of vandalism at the site. People, completely lacking in respect for history, sign their name on the wall (sadly, sometimes even writing over the names of the original names.)
Pictures from the Oregon Trail Ruts (including a picture of the North Platte River)-