I don’t know about you but growing up one of my favorite elementary school memories was when we were lead down to the computer lab to play Oregon Trail. While research haunted location in Wyoming, I was surprised to see a location that I remember from the game come across my list of places to look into. How many of y’all remember taking a rest at Fort Laramie in the game?
Located in Goshen County, Wyoming, the fort has gone through a few names over the years. Originally the area was inhabited by a group of fur trapper in the early 1800s. One of the fur trappers was named Jacques La Ramee. Jacques went out one morning to hunt but he never returned. His group of fellow trappers went out to look for him and found him hidden inside of a beaver damn. The local Arapahoe tribe was accused of killing him and hiding his body. The river was named in Jacques’ memory.
In 1834, William Sublette and Robert Campbell established a private trading post here called Fort William. The following year they sold it to Thomas Fitzpatrick who was a local fur trader. In 1836, the fort was sold again but this time to American Fur Company. The American Fur Company built an adobe fort where the previous fort stood and renamed the fort to Fort John at the Laramie River. It was named in honor of one the American Fur Company’s partners. In 1849 the United States purchased the fort from the American Fur Company in order to provide protection from Native American tribes, thieves, and the elements to those traveling on either the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail. Over time the name of the fort was shortened from Fort John at the Laramie River to just Fort Laramie.
Despite the fort being less than 200 years old (young compared to some of the places we have discussed in this blog), there are several spirits that haunt either the fort itself or the area surrounding the fort. One of the more famous spirits is known as the Lady in Green. She is rumored to be the educated, sophisticated, but very rebellious daughter of one of the American Fur Company’s officials. She came out to visit her father and convinced him to allow her to extend her stay. Worried about ongoing issues with the neighboring tribe and unsavory folks that were drawn to the the nearby Oregon Trail to prey on travelers, her father ordered that she must have escorts whenever she leaves the fort. Being the rebellious daughter she was, she would often slip away from her escorts and ride off into the surrounding prairie on her large black stallion. One day she rode off and never returned. A search party was sent out to look for her but she was never seen alive again. Along the Oregon Trail though, she was spotted a few years after her disappearance. Since then she is seen every seven years riding atop her massive black stallion. She is seen wearing a long green riding dress, a veiled hat, and carrying a jeweled riding whip.
Back in the fort there are a few haunted locations. Old Bedlam is the oldest military building in Wyoming. It was built in 1849 as a bachelor officer’s quarters. In this building, footsteps can be heard. As well as hearing a spirit telling those visiting the building to be quiet. It is believed to a spirit of one of the cavalry officers that use to stay there. Near to where Old Bedlam stands is the Capitan’s Quarters. Originally built in 1870 to be housing for the commanding officer who ended up choosing a different building to live. In the Captain’s Quarters footsteps can be heard often. Doors will open by themselves. Also bright lights can be seen inside the quarters but there is no electricity in the building. Workers at the fort call the spirit that inhabits the quarters George. Also in the same area is the Cavalry Barracks. The Cavalry Barracks were built in 1874 and housed several hundreds of soldiers over the years. The haunting here seem to be more residual in nature. Early most mornings, the sound of heavy boots can be heard walking across the broadway like the soldiers would have done when reveille was played each morning.
There are other spirits that haunt the fort and the surrounding areas. There is a young man seen wearing a raincoat having a vert expressive conversation with someone who can’t be seen. There is also an angry surgeon who has been seen wearing a bloody uniform. Over by Deer Creek, a headless man can be seen throwing rocks into the creek early in the mornings. It is said he is very unfriendly and should be avoided. Down by Bovee Draw, a civil war soldier has been seen acting erratically. He is also said to be unfriendly and should also be avoided. Finally by Detention Dam, a man with a bloody sword has been seen staring into the water around midnight.
While most of us who visit Fort Laramie visit the old fort for the history, don’t forget to say hello to the spirits there (well, except for the two unfriendly ones that I mentioned a few sentences back). Most of the spirits that haunt here seem to be more residual than intelligent. That may play in your favor if you are going to look for the paranormal. You just have to get there in time for the spirits to go about their daily business. Either way, when you go to visit Fort Laramie, be respectful to the living and the dead.