Although Nebraska had its moments of beauty, I crossed the border into Wyoming with much relief and anticipation. There were more Oregon Trail sites to see, and new landscapes to traverse.
I have to point out, for fairness’ sake, that there are trees in Nebraska. I hope you have been able to tell that from some of my photos, particularly of Fort Kearny and Ash Hollow. And you can certainly see from those photos, and those of Scotts Bluff, that the landscape does change at times. People make jokes about there being lots of treeless flatness in Nebraska, and while that is true in areas, when you follow the Oregon Trail you are likely to stick close to rivers like the North Platte. While it was not true in the pioneer days of tall grass and buffalo, there are lots of large trees growing at the rivers nowadays. But Nebraska is very wide, and I was weary of it.
The first major stop in Wyoming was Fort Laramie. Fort Laramie went through several names before it became Laramie, named after one of the rivers nearby (the other being the North Platte). It was originally founded in the 1830s to aid the fur trade, and then became an important “rest stop” on the Oregon Trail. It served as a trading post to promote regional commerce, and then was purchased by the U.S. Army in 1849, primarily to aid and protect the emigrants, and to work with the Native Americans. As the tensions and then violence mounted in the 1850s and 60s between the whites and the Native Americans, the fort became more important as an army base. The fort became less important as the growth of the railroad led to fewer wagon trains and fewer Indian clashes, and it was decommissioned in 1890 and opened for settlement by regular citizens. Eventually it became a national historic site to be restored and preserved.
Coming soon: Register Cliff and actual, visible trail ruts!