Old military fort now serves as historic site - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Old military fort now serves as historic site

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"One of my students at the high school had said, 'have you ever been to old Fort Laramie?' and no, I hadn't been to old Fort Laramie."

That's all history now for Mary Harris Eshee, who has been working as a seasonal employee at Fort Laramie National Historic Site for 14 years.

"In studying the history of the site, Fort Laramie is just infectious. It just grows on you," says Harris-Eshee.  "There is so much history."

Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into the largest military post on the northern plains.

The U.S. army purchased the fort in 1849 to protect travelers on the Oregon Trail from the area's Native Americans.

"When the army left Fort Laramie in 1890, after seeing a little over 40 years here at Fort Laramie, there were homesteaders moving into the new state of Wyoming and needing building materials."

More than 60 buildings were sold at public auction to the area's settlers, who used the materials to build their own farms and ranches.

The site was finally preserved in 1938 when Fort Laramie became part of the National Park System.

"We get folks from all over and a lot of bus tours come here," says Harris-Eshee.  "We like to keep activities going."

Harris-Eshee says she continues to work at Fort Laramie year after year because of the people she meets.

"I get to tell them about something that I really love."

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