The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Thirteen ways to think about Fort Bridger

Thirteen ways to think about Fort Bridger

Quiz Yourself

Here are some questions to ask before you visit Fort Bridger, while you’re there, and again after you return:

  1. How did Fort Bridger get its name? Why do you think it was named Fort Bridger, and not Fort Vasquez?
  2. Why did Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez decide to build a trading post here?
  3. Who were their customers?
  4. What was the Oregon Trail? The California Trail? The Mormon Trail?
  5. What did Fort Bridger have to do with each of those trails?
  6. One of Jim Bridger’s wives was a daughter of the Shoshone chief Washakie. Besides family life, might there also have been a business advantage to him from that relationship? What would it be?
  7. By the early 1850s, Jim Bridger was in a dispute with Mormons from the Salt Lake Valley over who owned the fort. (See Will Bagley’s article for details). If you had to choose a side in that disagreement, which would you choose? Why?
  8. What happened to the fort during the so-called Mormon War?
  9. Who was William Carter and how did he first come to Fort Bridger?
  10. What is a sutler?
  11. What were the main duties of the U.S. troops stationed at Fort Bridger after 1858?
  12. What did they eat when they were away from the fort and on campaign? (Hint—watch the video of fourth graders visiting Fort Bridger.)
  13. If you could choose to live here during any of the three main eras of frontier life at Fort Bridger—the mountain-man time, the Mormon time or the military time—which would you choose? Why? What would your job be?

THERE ARE HUNDREDS of more good questions a person could ask about Fort Bridger.

SEND US three interesting Fort Bridger questions of your own. Be sure to identify your school and classroom teacher or note if you are home schooled when you send in questions. Contact editor@wyohistory.org for information on a 2014-2015 contest for submitting the most questions.

Note to teachers:

This lesson addresses a number of the Wyoming State Social Studies Standards detailed in the 2013 draft of Wyoming Social Studies Content and Performance Standards, benchmarked for the ends of grades 2, 5, 8 and 12. All are available at http://edu.wyoming.gov/sf-docs/publications/DRAFT_2013_Social_Studies_Standards.pdf?

More specifically, the lesson addresses Content Standard 4, Time, Continuity and Change, under which students analyze events, people, problems, and ideas within their historical contexts, and Content Standard 5, People, Places and Environments, under which students apply their knowledge of the geographic themes (location, place, movement, region, and human/environment interactions) and skills to demonstrate an understanding of interrelationships among people, places, and environment.

Under Content Standard 4, the lesson addresses standards SS5.4.4. SS8.4.4 and SS12.4.4, which call for students to discuss, identify or describe historical interactions between and among individuals, families, and cultural/ethnic groups, and standards SS5.4.5, SSD8.4.5 and 12.4.5, which call for students to understand the difference between primary and secondary sources, and how to use them in their research.

Under Content Standard 5, this lesson addresses the Human Place and Movement standards SS2.5.3, SS5.5.3 (which specifically mentions American Indians and the Oregon Trail), SS8.5.3 and SS12.5.3, and the Environment and Society standards SS2.5.4, SS5.5.4, SS8.5.4 and SS12.5.4, which call on students to understand how people in Wyoming adjust and have adjusted to their physical and geographical environment.