Monday, May 7, 2012

Fort Bridger

Fort Bridger is located in a town of the same name, Fort Bridger, Wyoming.  The fort, itself
 is named after the mountain man,  Jim Bridger who along with Louis Vasquez established a trading post on the site in 1842.  It later became a Military fort, closed in 1890. Since then it has been purchased by the Wyoming Historic Landmark Commission becoming "Fort Bridger Sate Historic Site."
The fort look interesting and, having read lots about Jim Bridges,  Jeff wanted to see it. 
When we arrived, though, the fort was closed, something that never would have happened in Jim Bridger's day. We looked through the fence but could see only a few buildings.
 When Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez opened the trading post it became a major supplier for pioneers traveling west along the Oregon and Mormon Trails.  The Mormons briefly held the fort until they were forced out by the United States Army. 
When Bridger and Vasquez owned the fort they didn't miss many opportunities to make money.  They even seem to have played an important part in the fate of the Donner Party.  The Donners were a group of travelers headed west by way of the Oregon Trail.  They had been encouraged to leave the main trail and use a new cut-off that would save them many miles. To get to the cutoff, they passed by Fort Bridger where they would renew their supplies.  An earlier group who were taking the same route had sent a letter to the Donner party telling them to NOT take the route.  It was too hard.  For some reason, Bridger and Vasquez did not deliver the letter.  The two entrepreneurs had much to gain if the more travelers used the new route.  It didn't work out so well for the Donners who would become trapped in record high snows that arrived early in the Sierras. Most of the party would die and would be eaten by other party members.
There was a statue of Bridger at the entrance to the park.

It was a nice statue with the names of, what I think were contributors, written on stones at its base.

But look closely.
During the night or early hours of the morning. someone had draped a Jack rabbit over the end of Bridger's outstretched palm. It seems fitting for a man who began as a trapper. The rabbit had probably met its fate crossing the road as had several others on the nearby stretch of highway.  For now Magpies were the most numerous tourists enjoying Fort Bridger.

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