In this issue
Be a Part of History!
Fort Laramie's military bridge is 133 years old this February! During its lengthy history it faithfully carried troops sent out on campaigns, adventurers on the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage seeking their fortunes in the gold mines of the Black Hills, and emigrants who needed to replenish supplies or mail letters at Fort Laramie. Traffic over the bridge continued until 1958 when a new concrete bridge was built 50 yards upstream.
The Fort Laramie military bridge was manaufactured by the King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio (Check out the King Bridge Company Museum website to see some of the other bridges they made). Zenas King patented the tubular bowstring bridge, of which the Fort Laramie bridge is an example, in the 1850's and by the end of the 1800's had manufactured over 5000 bridges all over North America.The 420 foot bridge was manufactured in Cleveland, shipped in pieces by rail to Cheyenne, and made its final leg by ox drawn wagons. (Just a note-- recently I spoke with one of our visitors who had an ancestor who drove one of those ox drawn wagons.) The assembly of the bridge was supervised by Captain William S. Stanton, who was with the US Army Corp of Engineers. In March of 1876 he tested the safety of the bridge by loading thirteen army wagons with stone and parking them on the bridge for several days. The bridge stood this severe test without showing any signs of weakness. Stanton reported the bridge was well built and first-class in every respect.
With ever growing highway traffic and the demise of many of our nations railroads, there are only about 75 of the original King Iron Bridges left in existence. The Fort Laramie military bridge is now preserved and protected by the Fort Laramie National Historic Site and will faithfully stand to share its place in the history of the west, with future generations.
I'm happy to report that YouTube has a few new Fort Laramie videos. This one is excellent! Click on the YouTube logo below to view it.
"Army Architecture In The West" $49.95"
Army Architecture in the West: Forts Laramie, Bridger, and D. A. Russell, 1849?1912
By Alison K. Hoagland; Foreword by Paul L. Hedren
During the nineteenth century, the U.S. military built numerous forts across the country as it stationed more and more troops west of the Mississippi. When most people think about military forts in the American West, they imagine imposing strongholds, meccas of defense enclosed by high, palisaded walls. This popular view, however, is far from reality.
In Army Architecture in the West, Alison K. Hoagland dispels the myth that all western forts were uniform structures of military might churned out according to a master set of plans authorized by army officials in Washington, D.C. Instead, by examining three exemplary Wyoming forts, Hoagland reveals that widely varying architectural designs were used to construct western forts.
With more than 120 illustrations, Army Architecture in the West offers a new way of using architecture to gain insight into the role of the army in the American West. By focusing on the tangible remains of the army?s presence in the West, Hoagland presents a new vision of American military history.