hh20p.htm =c@8" =c BDGt &H &Ȥ %~ (A =c@ 'ITEXTR*chXmdWw NPS Historical Handbook: Fort Laramie

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officers' row
In 1888, officers' row featured boardwalks, picket fences, and family gatherings on vine-shaded verandas.
Courtesy Col. Louis Brechemin.

Last Years of the Army Post, 1877-90

Beginning in the late 1870's, other changes took place around Fort Laramie. With the Indians removed to reservations, ranchers and other settlers came in, and great herds of cattle replaced the buffalo on the Wyoming plains. To many of these settlers the fort on the Laramie was a supply center, as well as insurance against Indian outbreaks and lawless white men.

map of Fort Laramie
Fort Laramie, Plan of Post, 1888.
(click on image for a larger size)

During these same years, Fort Laramie was assuming a false air of permanence as many of the old buildings of frame, log, and adobe construction were replaced by sturdy new structures with lime-concrete walls. A water system changed the parade ground from a gravelly flat to a tree-shaded greensward. The last cavalry unit to be stationed at the fort rode away in 1883 with Col. Wesley Merritt. Part of the Seventh Infantry, commanded by Colonel Gibbon, then garrisoned the post.

officers' row
Officers' row in the winter of 1889.
Courtesy U. S. Signal Corps.

Fort Laramie's importance had been threatened by construction of the Union Pacific Railroad 100 miles to the south. Its fate was now sealed by construction, in the late 1880's, of the Northwestern Line 50 miles to the north. This made Fort Robinson the logical guardian of the Indian reservations to the north, and by 1886 Col. Henry Merriam, then commanding officer of the Seventh Infantry and Fort Laramie, was ready to agree that further development of the old post was unwise. Not until August 31, 1889, however, was abandonment of the proud old fort decreed. At the request of Wyoming's Governor Warren, troops remained at the post until March 2, 1890, when the last two companies of the Seventh Infantry marched away. A few men were left to ship movable property, while a detachment from Fort Robinson dismantled some of the structures and on April 9, 1890, auctioned off the buildings and fixtures. At that auction, Lt. C. M. Taylor of the Ninth Cavalry sold the buildings of historic Fort Laramie at prices ranging from $2.50 to $100. Thirty-five lots of buildings and much miscellaneous furniture and fixtures brought a total of $1,395.

Fort Laramie
General view of Fort Laramie in 1889.
Courtesy U. S. Signal Corps.

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