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.
This Wyoming fort was an opportunity 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 1843 in southern Wyoming by the famous mountain main, Jim Bridger, along with his partner, Louis Vasquez. Brigham Young eventually purchased the fort, but Bridger disputed the validity of the purchase. No one knows what happened between the two men. Because of the disputes over the ownership of the fort, Bridger was able to lease what remained to the Army. In 1858, civilian merchant William A. Carter was appointed by the government to settle and oversee the fort.
Initially, local Native Americans offered things like fur, fresh meat, and moccasins. After the Mormon settlers purchased the fort, travelers could also expect to find clothing, grains, dried fruit, salted pork, ammunition, and blacksmithing services.
Though the Pony Express was only in existence for 18 months in 1860-1861, 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. Travelers could hope for a message while staying at the fort, or send one back home much more quickly than was otherwise possible.
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. Fort Bridger is now a historical site near Fort Bridger, Wyoming.