Historic Spots & Monuments
Browse Articles about Historic Spots & Monuments
|Narrows, The, Oregon Trail landmark on the Sweetwater River||WyoHistory.org|
|New Fork River Crossing||Clint Gilchrist|
|Ninth Crossing, Sweetwater River||WyoHistory.org|
|North Platte River crossings; Oregon Trail sites of||WyoHistory.org|
|Odd Fellows Building, Casper||Stephanie Lowe|
|Oil business, early emigrant trails||Allan Fraser|
|Okie, J. B.||Tom Rea|
|Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park||John Clayton|
|Oregon Buttes, Oregon Trail landmark||WyoHistory.org|
|Oregon Trail Ruts||Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office|
Historic Spots & Monuments
Como Bluff in Carbon County and Albany County, Wyo., is the location of one of the world’s richest quarries of Jurassic dinosaur bones. Paleontologists found excellent dinosaur fossils in greater quantity here in the late 19th century than had ever been known before. These included Allosaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus. Many of these specimens are still on display at the Peabody Museum at Yale University, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The site is seldom quarried today, as most of the bones have been removed. Como Bluff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Crow Creek or Cole Ranch northwest of Cheyenne, Wyo. was founded in 1879 and operated until 1972, when the land was subdivided. The ranch headquarters is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the ranch, cattle grazed native grasses during the warmer months and alfalfa hay in the winter; later, the Coles added dairy cattle. Historic structures include the ranch house, barn, bunkhouse and corrals.
The abundant vertebrate fossils of the Green River formation in western Wyoming have been known to science since the 1860s. Most are fish, buried in lime-rich mud at the bottom of freshwater lakes about 50 million years ago. Fossil Butte National Monument, west of Kemmerer, Wyo. was created by Congress in 1973 to protect a site extremely rich in these fossils.
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.
As many as half a million people crossed what’s now Wyoming in the mid-19th century before the transcontinental railroad was built. Their trails followed the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers west to South Pass, after which they divided into various routes bound for Oregon, Utah or California. They were making the journey of a lifetime, on routes blazed by Indians and trappers, and then worn deep and wide by thousands of wagons and perhaps millions of draft animals. These trails remain largely unchanged in Wyoming. Their white-topped wagons still hold an important place in the national imagination.
The U.S. Army established Platte Bridge Station in 1862 to protect the Oregon/California/Mormon Trail crossing of the North Platte River and the new transcontinental telegraph. After Lt. Caspar Collins was killed there by Cheyenne and Lakota Indians in 1865, the post was renamed Fort Casper, misspelling his first name. The fort was abandoned two years later, but reconstructed in 1936—and renamed Fort Caspar—with funds from the Works Progress Administration. Fort grounds and a museum are open to the public.
Devils Tower, a basalt column rising 1,267 feet above the nearby Belle Fourche River, was the nation’s first National Monument and remains important to tourists and the many tribes that hold it sacred.
Established by mountain men Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843, Fort Bridger was an important rest and re-supply spot for emigrants bound to Utah, California and Oregon. Mormons acquired the site in the mid-1850s, and burned it in 1857 as the U.S. Army approached during the bloodless Utah War. The following year the Army took over, and garrisoned the fort until 1890. Today it is a state historic site.