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Fort Caspar

Fort Caspar. (Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office)

It was first Camp Platte, and then the Platte Bridge Station. It was an important point up in current-day Natrona County, on the North Platte River, built in 1858 during the Great Migration. The Oregon Trail was the main thorofare through the Wyoming Territory, and this military fort was a key outpost. The fort housed a U.S. Army garrison of more than 100 cavalry, and was sanctioned to protect travellers along the trail, and to service and protect the vital communications link of the day, the telegraph.

It was an event, a battle actually, that took place here in 1865 that led to the re-naming of the fort. The Plains Indian Wars of the mid-1860’s was at its peak, and in July of 1865, a military supply train came under attack from thousands of Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Sioux warriors near the fort. At the same time, on the same day, in a separate battle, another group of soldiers were attacked while guarding a different supply train. It was then that the Platte Bridge Station came under siege. And one of the men who died in that battle, was Lt. Caspar Collins.

Later that year, in November of 1865, the fort was re-named Fort Caspar. Apparently, there must have been a Fort Collins already in use. Fort Caspar was abandoned a short time later, and was burned to the ground by Indians in 1867.

The buildings at Fort Caspar were re-constructed on the original site in 1936, during the Great Depression, by the Works Progress Administration. The Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site is operated by the city of Casper, complete with a museum and visitor center with interpretive exhibits.

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