On the Trail with John Bidwell: June 21, 1841

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Fort Laramie National Historic Site today.

Monday, 21st: We had an uncommonly good road today — an abundance of cottonwood timber — traveled late, having taken a stride of 27 miles.

Tuesday, 22nd:  Eight miles this morning took us to Fort Larimie, which is on Larimie’s fork of Platte about 800 miles from the frontiers of Missouri. It is owned by the American Fur Company. There is another fort within a mile and a half of this place, belonging to an individual by the name of Lupton.

The Black Hills were now in view; a very noted peak, called the Black Hill mountain, was seen like a dark cloud in the western horizon. The country along the Platte river is far from being fertile and is uncommonly destitute if timber.

Fort Laramie made a welcome stopping point. It was originally a private fur trading post founded by William Sublette and called Fort William. In 1841 it had just been purchased by the American Fur Company and renamed Fort John, although everyone seems to have called it Fort Laramie, after the river on which it was situated.

The river was named for Jacques La Ramee (1784-1820), a fur trapper who visited the area in the first two decades of the 19th century. Everyone seemed to have a different spelling for the name: Bidwell spelled it Larimie, Jimmy John spelled it Laramy, and Father De Smet, being a French speaker, got it right and spelled it La Ramee. There was another fort nearby, Fort Lupton, and they camped in between the two forts. They stayed to rest on Wednesday, and sold poor Mr. Shotwell’s possessions at an auction.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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