Old Fort Bridger

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Jim Bridger and his partner Louis Vasquez built a trading post on this location in 1843. It served the wagon trains headed for the Oregon territories and California.

Sometime in the early 1850s the Mormons bought the little fort from Bridger and continued to run it as a major supply depot for the wagon trains heading west. This was just one of many proftable enterprises that the Church ran along the pioneer trails.

In 1857 President Buchanon dispatched an army to put down a rumored uprising of the Mormons in Utah. The Mormons responded by dispatching a small group of less than 50 men to harass the oncoming army. Brigham Young gave the small force led by Lott Smith two charges. First they were not to shed any human blood. Second, they were to stop the US army and prevent them from entering the Salt Lake Valley.

This guerrilla militia force burned down Fort Bridger and Fort Supply, stampeded thousands of army cattle, and set fire to the prairie grass and seventy-two army supply wagons. The army struggled to the burnt out ruins of Fort Bridger where they spent a bitterly cold winter with almost no supplies.

In 1858 Johnston's army was allowed to enter the Salt Lake Valley and set up headquarters several miles from Salt Lake City. The road through Echo Canyon was fortified and guarded by many Mormon men prepared to do whatever they had to to stop Johnston's army if Brigham gave them the word. They were also prepared to burn their homes and any supplies and crops in the Valley and surrounding towns.

Today you can pretty much follow the old road from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake by following this route:

Shortly after the Wyoming border, the mountains begin to close in around I-80. As the map shows, cross over to I-84 then around Henefer, head south on 65. This road takes you over Little Mountain and Big Mountain along the old emigrant trail (wheel ruts are still evident) and eventually into Salt Lake City. This route was originally explored by the Donner Party.

My ancestors, the Burridges, left their new home in Tooele. Hannah took her children south to live in a dugout in Lehi while George went into Echo Canyon to guard against the army.

But I digress. The Fort Bridger location was left to the military until they abandoned it in 1890. The buildings fell into disrepair or were sold to locals.

Today some of the major miltary buildings have been restored and the trading post and fort have been rebuilt, much as it may have looked when Bridger and Vasquez ran it.

 

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RoseMary, Jeannette and Ryan check out the brig

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Outside the museum store RoseMary, Jeannette, Chantel, Michael and Cassie

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A soldier marches on guard duty as it might have been done over 100 years ago.

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Ryan inside the pioneer store. These are some of the goods that might have been stocked for settlers bound for the west

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Inside the stockade near the trading post. From left - Alex, Robbie, Cassie, Brittany, Chantel, Michael, Alex and Ryan

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RoseMary, Chantel and Michael waiting in the shade by an elk hide that's being tanned


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From Fort Bridger we continued east on I-80 to Laramie, Wyoming.