Cheyenne-Black Hills Trail, Fort Laramie, WY

Cheyenne-Black Hills Trail, Fort Laramie, WY

The Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Route (also known as the Cheyenne-Deadwood Trail) operated between 1876 and 1887, and connected Cheyenne, Wyoming, with Deadwood, South Dakota. It was 200 miles long and was created despite a treaty which had given the Black Hills to the Sioux.

The main reason for starting the trail was that, after the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, a north-south route was needed for people, gold shipments and freight. The trail ran perpendicular to the Overland and Oregon Trails.

Many depredations occurred on the trail since there were a lot of thieves and robbers in the area as well as Sioux trying to protect their land in the Black Hills. Stagecoaches usually were escorted by armed guards. Stage stops were set up at Fort Laramie, Hat Creek Station (near Lusk and Newcastle) and Robber’s Roost. Stages would depart from Deadwood on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and from Cheyenne on Mondays and Thursdays.

Well-known icons of the time like Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane were said to frequent the trail.

Historical Marker Inscription

The Cheyenne-Black Hills Trail passed near this point between 1876 and 1887. Built to supply the Dakota gold camps, the road was constructed in violation of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868 which reserved the Black Hills for the Sioux Indians. Stagecoaches and wagons carrying passengers, freight and gold bullion rumbled through nearby Ft. Laramie, an important stopping point along the line, until the arrival of the Chicago and North Western Railroad rendered the route obsolete.

Erected by the Wyoming Recreation Commission
1985

Location

Located near Fort Laramie, off U.S. 26 on the north side of the road

N 42° 14.797, W 104° 34.973

Oregon Trail Ruts, Guernsey, Wyoming

Oregon Trail Ruts, WY

The Oregon Trail Ruts are actual, highly visible ruts carved by the hundreds of thousands of travelers along the Oregon Trail. These ruts were left by the iron wagon wheel tires as well as cuts made by the emigrants who were moving westbound from 1841 to 1869 to ease the grade.

The first person to officially use the route was Robert Stuart and six companions in 1812. Over the years, many others also used the path, including trappers and traders.

The Bartleson-Bidwell party was the first wagon train of settlers to use the route in 1841. The goal of many of the more than 300,000 emigrants was to reach Oregon or California.

The road was used consistently until 1869 when the Union Pacific Railroad was completed.

Oregon Trail Ruts, WY

Historical Marker Inscription

Oregon Trail Ruts, Wyoming Historical Markers

Oregon Trail Ruts

Registered National Historic Landmark

Wagon wheels cut solid rock, carving a memorial to Empire Builders. What manner of men and beasts impelled conveyances weighting on those grinding wheels? Look! A line of shadows crossing boundless wilderness.

Foremost, nimble mules drawing their carts, come poised Mountain Men carrying trade goods to a fur fair — the Rendezvous. So, in 1830, Bill Sublette turns the first wheels from St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains! Following his faint trail, a decade later and through the 1860’s, appear straining, twisting teams of oxen, mules, and heavy draught-horses drawing Conestoga Wagons for Oregon Pioneers. Trailing the Oregon-bound avant-garde but otherwise mingling with those emigrants, inspired by religious fervor, loom footsore and trail worn companies — Mormons dragging or pushing handcarts as they follow Brigham Young to the Valley of the Salt Lake. And, after 1849, reacting to a different stimulus but sharing the same trail, urging draft animals to extremity, straining resources and often failing, hurry gold rushers California bound.

A different breed, no emigrants but enterprisers and adventurers, capture the 1860’s scene. They appear, multi-teamed units in draft — heavy wagons in tandem, jerkline operators and bullwhackers delivering freight to Indian War outposts and agencies. Now, the apparition fades in a changing environment. Dimly seen, this last commerce serves a new, pastoral society; the era of the cattle baron and the advent of settlement blot the Oregon Trail.

Location

N 42° 15.363, W 104° 44.908

Near Guernsey, WY

Cows, Wildlife and Gold, Wyoming

Cows, Wildlife and Gold, Wyoming Historical Marker

The Cheyenne River, also known as Chyone, which refers to the Cheyenne people who once lived in the region, is a tributary of the Missouri River. In Lakota, it’s called ‘Wakpá Wašté’ (Good River). It is about 295 miles (475 km) long and drains an area of 24,240 square miles. It runs through eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota, and includes the Black Hills upland region. In fact, 60% of the drainage basin is located in South Dakota.

The Angostura Dam is located on the Cheyenne River near Hot Springs, SD. This project was finished in 1949. Via man-made reservoirs, the Cheyenne River is connected with the Missouri at Lake Oahe, a man-made reservoir.

Historical Marker Inscription

The Cheyenne River drainage system has been the locus of human activity for thousands of years. Native Americans used the corridor in search of wild game and wild plants resources. When gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1875, miners, gamblers, freighters and road agents were among those following the Cheyenne-Deadwood road through this area. Stage coaches carried gold to the railroad in Cheyenne and brought passengers back. Robbers’ Roost, a creek crossing a few miles north of Mule Creek Junction, was a favorite spot for hold-ups. General George Crook and his men camped nearby on the Cheyenne River in June 1876 during the Powder River Campaign while Custer waged his battle at the Little Big Horn.

In the 1870s and 80’s thousands of cattle came, later followed by thousands of sheep – most of them trailed from Cheyenne. Ranches were built up in the late 1870s and 1880s. A few of them remain in the same family today. The Cheyenne River and its tributaries have water sources for pioneers, livestock, wildlife, and the irrigation of alfalfa fields.

Today most of the sheep are gone. Longhorn cattle were replaced by Herefords, and later by mostly Angus cattle. The short nutritious grasses of the area feed some of the best beef animals in the world. Calves are moved from these prairies in the fall to become beef for this nation and the world. Hunters come from throughout America to harvest the pronghorn antelope and mule deer made abundant by the rancher’s development of water and pasture.

Location

Mule Creek Junction Rest Area, Wyoming, Highway 18 and 85 – 45 miles from Lusk, Wyoming

N 43° 22.730, W 104° 13.257

Historic Guernsey Area, Wyoming

Guernsey, WY Historical Marker

Located near the Haystack Mountains and the North Platte River, Guernsey, Wyoming, was originally known as the “emigrant wash tub” since it was the area where the pioneers typically washed their clothes, took baths and watered whatever livestock they had with them. Guernsey was located right on the Oregon Trail. You can still see the ruts from the wagons in the area, and the carved names of the pioneers who traveled along the route.

The area is named after Charles A. Guernsey, a New Yorker who moved to the area in 1880. The town was officially incorporated in 1902. By this year, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad had made it as far as Guernsey.

Historical Marker Inscription

Platted and established by the Lincoln Land Company of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Guernsey garners its name from Charles A. Guernsey, noted legislator, rancher, and investor in early Wyoming.

The historic Guernsey area encompasses a key stretch of the North Platte River Valley from the Nebraska border west to the Hartville Uplift. The river forms an historic transportation corridor that began with the Native Americans, continued with emigrants along the Oregon/California/Mormon Pioneer/Pony Express National Historic Trails and continues today with US Highway 26, which has been designated the Oregon Trail Historic Byway. Major irrigation projects, large mining operations, a state park, and a military training center are nearby.

Location

60-98 East Whalen Street, Guernsey, WY 82215, USA

42°16’11.298″ N, 104° 44′ 24.870″ W

The Greatest Ride in History

Wyoming Historical Marker Near Fort Laramie: Greatest Ride in History

Right outside of Fort Laramie is a historical marker commemorating a horse. While that might sound odd to many people, it’s actually one of the more interesting stories of Fort Laramie and Fort Kearny.

Background to the Ride

Fort Laramie had been the main outpost of the U.S. Government on the Northern Plains. For many years, it was the main meeting point between the government and the sovereign tribes of the Northern Plains, and many treaties had been signed there, including the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, which designated the territory near the fort as Crow land (west of the Powder River).

While the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho had initially accepted the agreement, as the buffalo herds became reduced, they soon began invading Crow land. By 1860, these three tribes had taken over this land.

In June 1866, United States Colonel Henry B. Carrington left Fort Laramie and moved into the area now controlled by these three tribes. He was charged with protecting civilians traveling along the Bozeman Trail. Along this trail, he established Fort Phil Kearny and two other posts.

As the new fort was being constructed, conflict rose between the Native American warriors and the army. On November 3, 1866, a group of cavalry showed up at the fort to reinforce the post. They were led by Lieutenant Horatio S. Bingham and Captains William J. Fetterman and James W. Powell. Carrington had refused to take the offensive, which led to Fetterman criticizing him.

Carrington was eventually forced to take the offensive on November 25, 1866 when his superior ordered him to do it. On December 6, Carrington took the fight to the Native Americans, but suffered great losses, including the death of Bingham. Sobered by this, Carrington became more cautious. The Natives led by Red Cloud, the Oglala Lakota leader, had used a decoy to draw the army into a trap.

Fight on December 21, 1866

Encouraged by their success, Red Cloud decided to attack Fort Kearny. Sent to get timber and firewood for the fort, a wagon train was in an area about five miles away. The Native Americans attacked the train, and Carrington ordered soldiers to help fend off the attack. While Powell was initially in charge, Fetterman claimed seniority and took the lead.

Carrington had told the party not to pursue the Native warriors over the ridge. Fetterman ignored the command and chased the Native Americans over Lodge Trail Ridge. The Fetterman’s and 80 of his men’s bodies were later found mutilated. Wagons were sent to retrieve the bodies.

The Ride of a Lifetime

Because of Fetterman’s folly, more than one-quarter of the fort’s fighting men had died. The garrison was low on quality rifles and ammunition. There were still thousands of warriors in the area.

Carrington asked for civilian volunteers to ride out and ask for reinforcements. John “Portugee” Phillips agreed to do the ride. In the bitterly cold, blizzard-laden night, Phillips took the commanding officer’s own horse and rode out into the night. He arrived at the Fort Laramie parade ground on Christmas night during a full-dress garrison ball.

The Spot Where John "Portugee" Phillips Arrived at Fort Laramie

He quickly told the story of the Fetterman massacre and how Fort Kearny needed their help. Phillips horse died from exhaustion shortly after arriving at Fort Laramie. It had gone 236 miles in two days in a blizzard and freezing conditions.