Joseph Stimson came to Cheyenne in 1889 to take portraits. In 1900, the Union Pacific hired him as a publicity photographer, with wide leeway to choose his subjects. Soon, his agricultural, industrial and scenic views won him a national reputation. The Wyoming State Archives holds a collection of 7,500 Stimson negatives.
The Mountain View Hotel was an integral part of the settlement of the Centennial Valley at the foot of the Medicine Bow Mountains, about 25 miles west of Laramie. With strong ties to mining, railroad, and early tourism endeavors, the building has remained in service in numerous income-producing capacities for more than a century.
Westbound emigrants in the Sweetwater Valley on the Oregon Trail saw the distinctive gunsight notch of Split Rock and “steered to this cliff with a steadiness that was astonishing,” according to one diarist. The landmark stands 11 miles west of Devil’s Gate and about 75 miles east of South Pass.
Mountain men established a ferry across the Green River in 1843. Mormons bought it in 1850, when it became known as the Green River Mormon Ferry. Tens of thousands of emigrants crossed the river here. When William Lombard took over the business in 1889, it became known as the Lombard Ferry.
Devil’s Gate on the Sweetwater River became an important landmark for emigrants on the Oregon/California/Mormon trails. Trader Charles Lajeunesse ran a post there in the 1850s, not long before a Mormon handcart company sought shelter from a blizzard at nearby Matins Cove. Later, the famous Sun Ranch was headquartered there for 125 years.
In 1864, Jim Bridger blazed a trail to the Montana gold fields. It stayed west of the Bighorn Mountains to avoid trouble with Indian tribes. Wagons traveled the full route only that year, but in later decades it became an important way into the Bighorn Basin for white settlers.
Jim Bridger’s skills as guide, mapmaker and businessman were unmatched. After 20 years trapping beaver in the northern Rockies, he co-founded Fort Bridger in 1843. In the 1850s and 1860s he guided important government exploring expeditions and guided troops on Indian campaigns. In 1868 he retired to Missouri, where he died in 1881.
South Pass City, a gold mining town founded near South Pass in 1867, reached its pinnacle soon after a valuable strike was made in 1868 at the Carissa Mine. The town is also famous as the birthplace of women’s suffrage, because the 1869 bill making Wyoming Territory the first government in the world to guarantee women the right to vote was introduced by South Pass City’s representative, William H. Bright. Esther Hobart Morris, appointed South Pass City justice of the peace soon afterward, became the first woman in the nation to hold public office. The town, with many original buildings carefully restored, is operated as a state historic site.
Register Cliff, near present Guernsey, Wyo., is one of three large “registers of the desert” in Wyoming where Oregon-, California- and Utah-bound emigrants carved their names on rock. Many of the inscriptions are from the peak years of Oregon Trail travel in the 1840s and 1850s. The area close to Register Cliff was the first night’s camp west of Fort Laramie. Today, this site is a National Historic Site.
Point of Rocks Stage Station, 25 miles east of present Rock Springs, Wyo., was built in 1862 by the Overland Stage Company. The station was attacked and burned at least once by Indians, and stagecoach passengers were supposedly robbed and murdered nearby by the notorious outlaw and onetime stage-line superintendent Jack Slade. Point of Rocks Stage Station has been a school, freight station, store, ranch headquarters and a home. It is one of the only stage stations remaining intact on the Overland Trail. This site is on the National Register of Historic Places.