Wyoming's Historic Transportation Routes
To view captions for these pictures, see bottom of page.
1 - Ham's Fork Crossing, Oregon Trail -- Randy Wagner photo
2 - Joy Marker, Lincoln Highway -- Wagner photo
3 - Ft. Bridger from the bandstand -- Wagner photo
4 - Lincoln Monument on I-80 -- Wagner photo
5 - Bear River State Park, Evanston -- Wagner photo
6 - Ft. Bridger Guard House -- Wagner photo
7 - Mountain man Jim Baker's cabin -- Wagner photo
8 - Texas Trail marker -- Wagner photo
9. - Old time freighter -- Wyo Division of Cultural Resource
10 - Jim Bridger -- American Heritage Center,
11 - Historic wagon train in Rawlins -- Wyo Division of Cultural Resources
12 - Arlington -- Wagner photo
first tracks across Wyoming were American Indian trails connecting villages
with hunting grounds. In the early 1800s, fur trappers and mountainmen refined
these dim trails into a travel network between the Rocky Mountains and the
Mississippi River, then the western boundary of the United States.
In 1841, the first of the great Covered Wagon Trains ventured west along the fur trade route. Mountainman Jim Bridger built his trading post beside the wagon road in 1843. During the next 25 years some 500,000 Americans would "go westering" along the famed Oregon, California and Mormon trails.
Other tracks would follow. Members of the Cherokee Nation joined the 1849 California Gold Rush, pioneering a new route across southern Wyoming. Their Cherokee Trail would become the Overland Stagecoach Trail in the late 1850s. The Pony Express thundered its legendary track across Wyoming in 1860-61.
In 1868-69, the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad replaced the covered wagon trails. The 2,000-mile journey to the west coast could now be made in days instead of months. In 1913, the Lincoln Highway made transcontinental automobile travel a reality along a route that would become US-30 and, finally, I-80, completing Wyoming's long and rich transportation history.
Evidence of all the old Trails can be found in Tracks Across Wyoming country. Visit historic Fort Bridger and the museums in every city or town. Or simply stop at any of the countless road-side historic sites to contemplate the wonder-filled past. Sometimes you can almost hear the rumble, shout and bawl of a distant wagon train.