National Register of Historic Places

Fort Fred Steele

East of Rawlins

Date Added to Register

Wednesday, April 16, 1969

Smithsonian Number


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Fort Fred Steele contributed to national history in the areas of United States Military and Indian affairs, transcontinental transportation and communication, and its history also relates to the cattlemen's frontier and settlement. Original military structures at Fort Steele include a commanding officer's quarters, two large warehouses, a powder magazine and a number of smaller structures. Foundations exist in many places where buildings once stood. Fort Fred Steele, established on June 30, 1868, was one of three military forts built along the Union Pacific Railroad to provide protection for the line, its builders, and the communities that later developed along its course. To a lesser degree, the fort provided protection to ''trail'' travelers in the area and partially filled a void north of the Platte River created by the abandonment of the Powder River forts in 1868. During the last ''Indian Wars'' on the Northern Plains, Fort Steele was utilized as a support and supply base for troops in the field. Throughout its existence, the fort exerted a stabilizing influence in the surrounding vicinity and served as an important rail point for shipping and receiving. Fort Steele continued to grow into an impressive permanent post through the 1870s, and was an economic asset to the area. Peace and progress continued around Fort Steele during the early 1880s. Considered no longer necessary to military objectives, the post was abandoned August 7, 1886. After abandonment by the military, the fort developed into a community along the route of transcontinental travel.

1868 Oil Painting by Aldrich, Wyoming State Archives

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources