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Fort Laramie

Fort Laramie 1849
In 1815 or 1816, Jacques La Ramee and a small group of fellow trappers settled in the area where Fort Laramie would later be located. He went out alone to trap in 1819 or 1820 and was never seen again. Arapaho Indians were subsequently accused of killing La Ramie and putting his body in a beaver dam near the mouth of Sybille Creek. The fort was named "Laramie" in his honor.
   Fort Laramie (1834-1890) - First known as Fort William, then as Fort John and finally as Fort Laramie. One of the principal trappers was William Sublette, and the fort was therefore called Fort William for a period of time. It was later named Fort John after John B. Sarpy, a partner in the American Fur Company. This fort was established by fur traders in support of their commercial operations including the yearly rendezvous of trappers and Indian traders (1825-1840).
   In 1834 William Sublett and Robert Campbell, traders operating out of St. Louis, built Fort William, the first structure to be located near the junction of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers. The post quickly became important as a base of operation for traders and trappers.
   The fort was sold to Jim Bridger, William Fitzpatrick, and Milton Sublette of the American Fur Company in 1835. The appearance of the competitive Fort Platte, coupled with the rotting of log palisades, caused the American Fur Company to abandon Fort William and build a new adobe structure called Fort John. In 1845 Congress authorized the establishment of military posts along the Oregon Trail. By this authority the United States purchased Fort John in 1849 and built Fort Laramie.
   The fort was purchased from Bruce Husband, an agent of the American Fur Company, for $4,000 in June of 1849 by U.S. Army Lt. Woodberry on behalf of the United States Government. Three companies of cavalry arrived at the fort that same month, and Company 'G', 6th Infantry, which was the post's permanent garrison for many years, arrived on August 12, 1849.
   Fort William, Fort John, and Fort Laramie were all important stopping off places for the increasing number of travelers along the trails to Oregon and California. The post became an oasis for the westward bound immigrants--the only outpost of civilization for the 800-mile span between Fort Kearny, Nebraska, and Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Historic trails and routes that passed through Fort Laramie, in addition to the Oregon and California Trails, were the Mormon Trail, Bozeman Trail, Pony Express Route, Transcontinental telegraph route, and the Deadwood and Cheyenne Stage Route.
   Fort Laramie also served as headquarters for military campaigns on the northern plains. Great Indian Councils that attempted to bring peace to the land occurred here in 1851 and 1866-68. In the late 1860s, the fort was the primary staging ground for the United States in the Powder River Country during Red Cloud's War. The resultant peace agreement reached in 1868 was the second Treaty of Fort Laramie. Unfortunately, campaigns against the Indians of the Northern Plains during the last half of the nineteenth century testified to the ultimate failure of the treaties to maintain peace. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills touched off another period of conflict with the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. During this period of conflicts, Fort Laramie served as a major staging point for supplies and troops.
   After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the fort's importance decreased rapidly until it was decommissioned in 1890.


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