Fort Bridger (1843-1890) - Established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843 as a trading post and outfitting point for emigrants. Later acquired by the Mormons and taken over by the U.S. Army. Fort Bridger was transferred to the Interior Department and finally abandoned by the U.S. Army in 1890.
Old Fort Bridger (1843-1855)
The original Fort Bridger as established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843 became an important emigrant outfitting stop along the Oregon, Salt Lake and California trails. The post was strategically located in an ideal spot with plenty of good water just before the point where the trails began to split off to the various western destinations. Bridger established a blacksmith shop and stocked it with iron so he could offer repair services and brought other supplies from the east to meet the needs of the travelers. Mormon leaders in Salt Lake originally shipped supplies to Fort Bridger to meet the needs of Mormon emigrants but found that too expensive and they established nearby Fort Supply (1) in 1853 so that they could locally raise crops.
Mormon Fort Bridger (1855-1857)
In 1855 Fort Bridger was sold to the Mormons for $8,000. Tensions increased between the Mormon leaders in Salt Lake and the U.S. Government and the Mormons at Fort Bridger expanded and further fortified the post, completing the improvements in the summer of 1857. U.S. troops were dispatched in mid 1857 to insure a secular government for the Utah Territory in what became known as the Mormon War. As the U.S. troops approached Fort Bridger in November 1857, the Mormon defenders burned down Fort Bridger and nearby Fort Supply (1) to keep them from falling into U.S. Army hands. The U.S. Forces were forced to winter in a nearby encampment called Camp Scott (2). Fort Bridger was taken over by the U.S. military under then Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston in 1858 and rebuilt as a U.S. Army post but Fort Supply (1) was not rebuilt.
U.S. Army Fort Bridger (1858-1890)
In spite of temporary times of abandonment during the U.S. Civil War and then again during the late 1870s, Fort Bridger remained U.S. Army property until it was transferred to the Interior Department 14 Oct 1890 and finally abandoned by the U.S. Army 6 Nov 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 is now a state historic site and administered by Wyoming State Parks & Historic Sites, Division of Parks & Cultural Resources, Wyoming Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources.
The Site complex houses a number of unique areas, each covering a part of the history of the fort. As you enter the site a large grouping of buildings houses the post trader complex (1858-1890). This group of buildings was the responsibility of Judge William Alexander Carter and his wife who were the only post traders while the U.S. Army occupied the fort. The post trader was not only sutler to the military garrison but also supplied emigrants along the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail and workers for the Pony Express and Railroad as well as the local settlers and Indians.
The second major area is the U.S. Military post (1858-1890) which has many restored buildings complete with typical furnishings. The 1887 Infantry Barracks serves as museum and souvenir store. Other significant buildings include two officers quarters, two guardhouses, and the commissary. Additional buildings from this period are located on the other side of Business Loop Hwy 30 and are used as administrative buildings for the park.
The third major area is the replicated original Fort Bridger at the back of the site. The replicated buildings are furnished with period equipment and furnishings.
The fourth area is the restored 1920's Black and Orange Motel with display rooms furnished with period furniture and clothing.
Visited: 16 Sep 2011