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Begun in 1878 Along Bozeman Trail

By Burton S Hill

From The Buffalo Bulletin

The Trabing Trading Post was established early in 1878 at a location several hundred yards north of the present Crazy Woman Creek bridge. At that time, however, the crossing of Crazy Woman creek, on the Bozeman Trail, was about a mile and a quarter east of the present crossing. After fording the stream, the trail took a northwesterly course over a large area of bottom land, and from there kept the same direction for approximately three miles before turning northward.

August Trabing erected quite a large building for his operations about a mile and a half from the original crossing. The spot can still be located some thirty-five yards east of the Bozeman Trail marker to be seen just west of a wire fence along the county road.

During the following 18 months Trabing did a thriving business. He was able to supply practically everything the emigrants and the early settlers would be in need of. This would included staple food stuff such as bacon, flour, corn meal, coffee and such items as dried prunes and apricots. He was also able to furnish many items of clothing, including boots and hats. A quantity of liquor was also on hand which consisted mostly of whiskey and ordinary wine.

The trading post soon became known as Trabing and rapidly became a social center and congregating place for emigrants, early ranchers, soldiers and any others who happened to be in the vicinity.

At times Trabing was also visited by marauding road agents who robbed him of the best of his wares, which had to be replaced from Rock River, or other depots on the Union Pacific. These wares had to be hauled by bull team over the Bozeman Trail, which took many arduous and tedious days of travel.

On one occasion at Trabing, these robbers laid in wait for a man by the name of Tillotson, who was supposed to have been in possession of $22,000.00 for the quartermaster at Fort McKinney, an army post 22 miles northward on Clear Creek.

However, Tillotson realized what might happen along the way, so instead of carrying the cash, he brought a bank draft, and thereby foiled the road agents.

At this same time, the agents robbed Andrew Snyder, a brother of  E U Snyder, then the post sutler at Fort McKinney. He was on his way to visit his brother when the robbers took his fine gold watch. But after being at Fort McKinney for several days, the watch was returned to him from some mysterious source. It was never known exactly how this came about.

After the town of Buffalo got its start along Clear Creek, three miles east of Fort McKinney, Trabing became interested and decided to move his store to the new settlement. He appears to have had considerable encouragement in making the move from Charles Buell, then one of the builders of the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, constructed in 1880.

Trabing reached Buffalo some time during the late summer, or early fall of 1879, and with the help of Mr Buell, built his store on the location now located by the First National Bank of Buffalo and the Masonic building on South Main Street.

However, he did not remain long before being bought out by John H Conrad and company. It is believed that he returned to Laramie which had been his former home.

His building at Trabing, on Crazy Woman creek, was used by the stage companies on the Bozeman Trail for a considerable time. Just how long it was used has not been recorded, but the building was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Very few record have been kept concerning the Trabing Trading post. What is known of August Trabing and his operations on Crazy Woman Creek have been handed down from early day pioneers who knew first hand.

The late Byron Long, an early-day freighter on the Bozeman Trail, and afterwards a prosperous rancher at Trabing, was able to recount many personal experiences covering the Trabing Trading post period. Another was John R. Smith, rancher in the Trabing area as early as 1878.

The late Lillian Baker, a daughter of Charles J Hogerson, who moved with his family from Fort Fetterman to Fort McKinney about the time of its completion, was acquainted with many first-hand facts concerning August Trabing. During her lifetime, on several occasions she recounted these facts to the author of this paper.

As to the location of the trading post, these facts were furnished some years ago by the late Richard Young of Buffalo, who for many years had been well acquainted with that particular section of Johnson County. The location also seems to have been well-known by the late F G S Hesse, another early day rancher in that locality.

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