Fort Bridger is one of the many important stops pioneers made on their westward journey towards California. It was also a welcome landmark for these travelers. At the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko, NV, we are happy to highlight this crucial stopping point along the trail.
The Importance Of A Fort
This Wyoming fort was an important destination for travelers to rest, restock supplies, and get vital information about the upcoming legs of the journey. Some were even able to receive letters from home. It played a large role in shepherding Mormon immigrants to the Salt Lake City region.
Fort Bridger was founded in southern Wyoming by the famous mountain man, Jim Bridger, along with his partner, Louis Vasquez. Though it had humble beginnings – just a few simple buildings and a blacksmith shop – it became an important rest stop for westward-bound immigrants.
Brigham Young eventually purchased the fort, but Bridger disputed the validity of the purchase. No one knows what happened between the two men. In 1858, civilian merchant William A. Carter was appointed to settle and oversee the fort once again.
A Chance To Restock
Not only was Fort Bridger an important California Trail fort for travelers needing a rest, but it also provided an opportunity to restock much-needed supplies. Local Native Americans offered things like fur, fresh meat, and moccasins. After the Mormon settlers purchased the fort, weary travelers could also expect to find:
The Pony Express
Though the Pony Express was only in existence for 18 months, it became a famous part of the history of the West, and Fort Bridger was one of the stops along the way. Claiming to cover 1,800 miles in just ten days, the Pony Express was the fastest way to send or receive letters. Immigrants could hope for a message while staying at the fort, or send one back home much more quickly than was otherwise possible.
A Military Outpost
Sadly, Fort Bridger never turned a profit, and the government had other uses for it. A mild skirmish between the government and the Mormon settlers led to the destruction of the fort. Because of the disputes over the ownership of the fort, Bridger was able to lease what remained to the Army.
During the phase of military occupation, many changes occurred to this outpost before it was eventually sold off to the public. Fort Bridger is now a historical site near Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
Step Into the Past
Fort Bridger and other stops on the way to California were essential for pioneer survival. Visit the California Trail Interpretive Center today to learn more about the amazing history of this westward passage. Step into the past with our simulated pioneer encampments or Shoshone village. The history of the West is waiting for you.
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Who We Are
Southern Nevada Conservancy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Las Vegas, NV, works cooperatively with the Bureau of Land Management through a formal agreement to provide education, informational, and other public services that will add to visitors understanding and enjoyment of the California Trail Interpretive Center. These programs include California Trail Interpretive Center programs, interpretive programming, volunteer management, retail operations, social media outreach, and this website.