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Visit the Laundress Camp  

Fur trappers established the first permanent settlement in what would become the state of Wyoming. Located near the confluence of the Platte and Laramie rivers, the outpost was originally known as Fort William, in honor of William Sublette, the captain of the mountain men who first camped here on the night of 30 May 1834. Sublette’s company, Sublette & Campbell, established themselves here in an attempt to compete with the already mighty American Fur Company, owned by John Jacob Astor. Earlier that year, the two competing companies had reached an agreement:  Sublette would abandon his outposts on the Upper Missouri and, in exchange, Astor would abandon his trade in the central Rockies. In Sublette’s estimation, Fort William would provide a perfect location for conducting trade with the Sioux and Cheyenne.  Fort John
          In the constant merry-go-round of the fur trade, Sublette quickly sold out to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (Fort Lucien) which then quickly sold out to Pierre Chouteau, who rebuilt the outpost and called it Fort John. But none of this could forestall the reality that the beavers were trapped out and the buffalo trade needed the Missouri River for efficiency. Nor did all the name changes do anything but help to insure the name by which it would be known forever – Fort Laramie, for its location.
         Throughout its history, Fort Laramie’s most important function was probably its role as the primary way station on the westward journey. Nearly everyone of any importance frequented it:  Thomas Fitzpatrick, Jim Bridger, Marcus Whitman, Jason Lee, Narcissa Whitman, Pierre De Smet, David Mitchell, Alfred Jacob Miller, Francis Parkman… Too many to name.
   Fort Laramie        In 1843, close to a thousand emigrants, including children, passed by the fort and, in the years that followed, it became increasingly evident that the primary role of the fort had become supplying the westward expansion. The U.S. government finally purchased the post, now in a dilapidated and sorry state, in late 1849. It took on a central position in the government’s relationship both with the Plains Indian tribes as well as the westward bound emigrants. In 1851, it was tapped to host a multi-tribe treaty conference aimed at negotiating rights of free passage through Indian lands for the emigrants. And, in 1868, it would be the site of the great Sioux Treaty Council. Troops would remain stationed at Fort Laramie until 1890, witnessing and participating in all the great dramas of the westward migration and settlement.
Fort Laramie, 1870
         In 1890, the fort was abandoned and the 35,000 acre military reserve was opened for homesteading. Its buildings were sold at auction and a long period of neglect began. The ghosts around Fort Laramie would not die, however, and in the 1950s, just as the site seemed doomed to crumble, the National Park Service stepped in and reclaimed the site and history of Fort Laramie for all the generations to come. 

National Park Service Comprehensive Management Plan
The site is a National Historic Landmark, administered by the National Park Service. There are no known threats.

Public (NPS)

Goshen County, Wyoming. T26N/R64W.
Follow the signs to the old fort site from the town of Fort Laramie on US 26.

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