hh20e.htm =c@8" =c BDGt &H &Ȥ %~ /lX =c@ 'ITEXTR*choo!V渾d* NPS Historical Handbook: Fort Laramie

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The Mormon Migrations, 1847-48

While many of the early visitors to Fort Laramie were missionaries, mass emigration motivated by religion was not in evidence until 1847. That spring the pioneer band of Mormons, led by Brigham Young, passed up the north bank of the Platte to its confluence with the Laramie, and crossed near the ruins of Fort Platte. They paused there for a few days to repair wagons and record for future emigrants the facilities available at Fort Laramie, of which James Bordeaux was then in charge. This party of 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children seeking a new Zion in the Salt Lake Valley were but pathbreakers for more than 4,000 Mormons who almost monopolized the trail in 1848.

Like emigrants of all sects, the Mormons enjoyed a respite from travel on arrival at the great way station of Fort Laramie. A variety of activities engaged the emigrants during their brief stopover. Men engaged in blacksmithing and general repair, traded at the fort, or went fishing. The women busied themselves with washing and baking or gathered chokecherries or currants.

The Mormons at this time conceived a plan which was used for several years at Fort Laramie. Wagon supply trains from Utah, drawn by teams acclimated to mountain travel, met emigrating "Saints" from the East, and teams were exchanged. Thus, they avoided the serious losses of stock often resulting when tired low-country teams encountered the high altitudes of South Pass and the rough mountain trails into Utah.

Meanwhile, despite a moderately brisk business with the emigrants, trading at Fort Laramie continued to suffer from the general decline of the fur market and the competition of independent dealers in "Taos Lightning." Conditions were now ripe for the early retirement of the American Fur Co.

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Last Modified: Sat, Dec 9 2000 10:00:00 am PDT

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