Wyoming Stations

Wyoming Stations "The Oregon Trail" is largely a term of literary convenience. In the largest sense, starting from many points along the Missouri River, it led to innumerable points westward. However, there was one section of this trail through which all connecting lines funneled. This trunk line, which was THE Oregon Trail to everyone, regardless of origin or destination, extended from Fort Kearney on the Platte River in Nebraska, up the North Platte and Sweetwater Rivers to South Pass in Wyoming.

List of Stations

  • Echo Canyon
  • Needle Rock
  • Bear River
  • Hanging Rock
  • Quaking Asp Springs
  • Muddy Creek
  • Fort Bridger
  • Millersville
  • Church Butte
  • Granger
  • Rock Ridge
  • Hams Fork
  • Green River Crossing
  • Big Timber
  • Big Sandy
  • Little Sandy
  • Dry Sandy
  • South Pass
  • Pacific Springs
  • Plounts
  • Upper Sweetwater
  • Sweet Water
  • Horse Creek
  • Three Crossing
  • Rocky Ridge
  • Warm Springs
  • La Bonta
  • Elk Horn
  • Casper
  • Glen Rock
  • Fort Fetterman
  • Douglas
  • Orin Junction
  • Horseshoe Station
  • Cotton Wood
  • 9 Mile House
  • Badeau's Station
  • Fort Laramie
  • Torrington

Fort Bridger

Fort Bridger was established in 1843 by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez. Strategically located on the Black's Fork River, the fort was second only to Fort Laramie as the most important outfitting point for the emigrants and Mormons traveling the Oregon Trail on the Overland Route between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast.

Some of the buildings constructed during the Army occupation from 1858 to 1890 are in ruins, but many still stand -- preserved and maintained as a reminder of Wyoming's past. A museum houses artifacts of Indian cultures and the periods of military occupancy. Living-history interpretive demonstrations on military and pioneer life are presented throughout the summer.

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The Granger Pony Express Station was located off US30 just west of Little America on I80. Ruins and a monument now mark the location.

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South Pass

South Pass was perhaps the most significant transportation gateway through the Rocky Mountains. Indians, mountain men, Oregon Trail emigrants, Pony Express riders, and miners all recognized the value of this pass straddling the Continental Divide.

Bounded by the Wind River Range on the north and the Antelope Hills on the south, the pass offered overland travelers a broad, relatively level corridor between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. For early travelers passing through South Pass, the gradual incline left them unaware that they were crossing the Continental Divide. Between 1840 and 1860 an estimated 300,000 settlers traveled through the gap, their wagon wheels leaving deep ruts in the earth.

On the South Pass is the Whitman Monument and a roadside pull-out pointing out and describing historical and geographical features of the South Pass Area. To the east of the highway and with the aid of binoculars the Pacific Springs area can be seen marked by a few ancient buildings on the Hay Ranch.

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Split Rock

From South Pass the Pony Express Trail followed the Sweetwater River northeastward to Split Rock Station which was located 65 miles north of Rawlins on US287 heading for Lander. Split Rock Relay Station was a crude log structure with a pole corral and was located on the south side of the Sweetwater River.

Pony Express lore tells that William "Buffalo Bill' Cody exchanged horses at Split Rock Station on a record ride from Red Buttes Station to Rocky Ridge Station and back. Due to another rider's untimely death, Cody was forced to do an extra leg to his normal relay and eventually covered a total distance of 322 miles in 21 hours and 40 minutes, using 21 horses in the process.

Split Rock can be seen as a cleft in the top of the Rattlesnake Range. This was an important landmark to early travelers, since it can be seen for a full day's journey from the east, and for two days behind as they continued westward.

There are 35 highway miles between Split Rock and Devil's Gate.

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Devil's Gate

The Pony Express Route and the Oregon Trail are the same through this part of Wyoming. Split Rock Station and Devil's Gate Station are located one "Oregon Trail Day" apart.

Devil's Gate, a 370-foot high, 1500-foot long cleft, carved over the centuries by the Sweetwater River, was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail. It provided a pleasant change for weary travelers coming across the rough, dry country from the North Platte River, a four day trek from the east.

According to Shoshone and Arapahoe legend a powerful evil spirit in the form of a tremendous beast with enormous tusks ravaged the Sweetwater Valley, preventing the Indians from hunting and camping. A prophet informed the tribes that the Great Spirit required them to destroy the beast. They launched an attack from the mountain passes and ravines, shooting countless arrows into the evil mass. The enraged beast, with a mighty upward thrust of its tusks, ripped a gap in the mountain and disappeared through Devil's Gate, never to be seen again.

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Independence Rock

Independence Rock was a well-known landmark on the Sweetwater River. Called "The Great Register of the Desert," it is a 193-foot-high granite boulder with a base that covers more than 27 acres. More than 5,000 names were carved on it by explorers, trappers, adventurers, scientists, missionaries, soldiers, and emigrants.

Independence Rock was a favorite resting place for those bound for Oregon, California and the Salt Lake Valley along the Mormon and Oregon Trails. It was named during a celebration held there on July 4, 1830, by a party of fur trappers led by William Sublette.

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Red Buttes

Red Buttes Pony Express Station was located on a ridge overlooking the North Platte River at Bessemer Bend. Explorers, fur traders, mountain men and emigrants camped at this site. Although the main route of the Oregon Trail was located a few miles north of this site, many emigrant travelers crossed the North Platte River here for the last time on their trek to the west. They preferred using this favorable ford rather than waiting in line and paying the tolls and ferry fees required at lower crossings. Ample grass, good water and pleasant surroundings made this a favorite campsite for some travelers, since the route to and from the Sweetwater River was three days of rough, dry country and poisonous alkali water.

Pony Express lore recalls than William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, one of the youngest Pony Express riders at the age of 14, made the longest non-stop ride from this station. Completing his own run of 116 miles between Red Buttes and Three Crossings, he found his relief rider had met any untimely death, causing Cody to ride an extra 76 miles to Rocky Ridge Station. He immediately returned from Rocky Ridge to Red Buttes, completing the route in record time.

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From Independence Rock the Pony Express Trail parts proximity with paved highway and heads across country to Casper which began as a ferry site on the Oregon Trail in 1847, when a group of Mormon emigrants, who were camping here, realized that there was money to be made by boating travelers across the North Platte River.

The center piece of the Platte Bridge Station and Fort Caspar was the bridge built here by Louis Guinard in 1859-1860. The bridge superstructure stood on 28 wooded cribbens filled with rock and gravel. Not counting the approaches, the bridge was 810 feet long and 17 feet wide. The total cost of construction was estimated at $40,000. The toll for wagons to cross was $1.00 to $6.00 determined by the height of the river. An additional toll was charged for animals and people. A military post (later named Fort Caspar) was established to protect the span and its traffic. The bridge was used until Fort Caspar was abandoned in 1867.

Fort Caspar Museum located 1/2 mile north of SR20 off Wyoming Blvd, at 4001 Fort Caspar Road, is a reconstruction of Fort Caspar, named in honor of Caspar Collins, a lieutenant killed while trying to rescue a wagon train from the Indians in 1865.

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