America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Statue of Jim Bridger

Fort Bridger, Wyoming

Jim Bridger, mountain man, and his cohort Louis Vasquez thought that a trading post for fur trading and more was needed in this area of southwest Wyoming along the Oregon Trail as more and more wagon trains began to make their way west. It was late 1842 into early 1843. By 1853, the Mormons took over, and eventually Fort Bridger became an Army Post. Today, it's a fantastic state historic site run by, yes, the state of Wyoming. Otherwise that would be odd. Put yourself into the shoes of any of those eras as you walk around twenty-seven historic buildings from the time period. Image above: Statue of Jim Bridger by Dave Clark at Fort Bridger State Historic Site, 2016, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Pony Express Stables at Fort Bridger

Fort Bridger, Wyoming

In 1842, when Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez decided to build a trading post at Fort Bridger, it was predominantly still a fur trading area. The complex consisted of two double-log houses with a pen in the middle for their horses. By 1853, use changed, the complex expanded, and the Mormons took over, using the expanded fort more for trade with the settlers who used the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail for their wagons and horses. During the Utah War, 1857, the Mormons destroyed the fort so the U.S. Army could not use it, but the Army rebuilt the fort in 1858 and used it for over thirty years.

It was during this time, 1860-1861, that the Pony Express used Fort Bridger as a stop along the mail trail. Today, you can follow all those trails; Oregon National Historic Trail, California National Historic Trail, Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, and Pony Express National Historic Trail, all supervised by the National Park Service, although many sites, including Fort Bridger, are not run by the Park Service itself.

Image above: The Pony Express stables at Fort Bridger, 1940, Arthur Rothstein, Office of War Information. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Interior of the Fort Bridger stockade, 2016, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Fort Bridger Stockade

Where Is It

Located three miles off 1-80, Exit 34, Fort Bridger is in southwest Wyoming. Official address is Fort Bridger State Historic Site, 37000, I-80BL, Fort Bridger, WY 82933. Your GPS and local signage should get you there. Fort Bridger is a very small town.

What is There Now

Fort Bridger

It's a gem of a historic site spanning five different eras. There are twenty-seven historic buildings, four replica buildings, and six modern buildings. There is a museum to visit to see exhibits and get orientation to the site plus thirty-seven acres to explore around Groshen Creek. There are also restrooms and a gift shop.

When Open and How Much

The grounds of Fort Bridger State Historic Site are open year round. The buildings May 1 to September 30, and the museum itself year round with shorter hours October 1 to April 30, Friday through Sunday only. It costs $4.00 for Wyoming resident and $8 for non-Wyoming residents.

Fees and hours are subject to change.

Fort Bridger State Historic Site
Travel Wyoming

History Nearby

It's the wide open spaces with national parks around many corners and unique state or local historic sites on roads that seem to go nowhere. That includes some of the real stars, Yellowstone, Glacier, etc., as well as places you should not miss, like Cody, Wyoming.

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