Keys to the past unlock doors to the future giving us a better insight of things to come. Wyoming is so rich in history that there are a lot of historic sites that tend to get overlooked. Here are 10 hidden gems in Wyoming that hold some very special keys to the past.
1. Fetterman Monument
Fetterman Monument is the site of the second worst military disaster for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. In 1866, William Fetterman was lured by Crazy Horse over Lodge Trail Ridge where he encountered more than 1,000 Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans. Eighty-one U.S. soldiers were killed within 30 minutes. The site which is located near Sheridan off of I-90 Exit 44 (north on Old Highway 87) consists of walking trails and 30 interpretive signs.
2. Upper Green River Rendezvous Site
The Upper Green River Rendezvous Site falls along the Green River near Daniel, Wyoming. Here, the annual Rocky Mountain Rendezvous took place each spring. It was a fur trading fair among Euro-American traders and Native Americans. The traders and trappers included the likes of Kit Carson and Jim Bridger. The Upper Green River Rendezvous Site is located 4- miles west of Pinedale on US Route 187.
3. Wagon Box Fight Site
The Wagon Box Fight is another key conflict during the Indian Wars that escalated along the Bozeman Trail. In 1867, after defeating Captain William Fetterman and his troops, the Sioux Indians attacked woodcutters and soldiers near Fort Phil Kearny. Twenty-six soldiers and six civilians hid inside wagon boxes during the upheaval. The troops held off the attackers until backup arrived. The monument is dedicated to the 28 soldiers in Company C, 27th United States Infantry and civilians who survived in this improvised fort while being attacked by 3,000 Sioux Indians led by Red Cloud. Wagon Box Fight Site can be accessed via Interstate 90, Exit 44, off of U.S. Highway 87.
4. Heart Mountain Relocation Center
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Heart Mountain Relocation Center was used to confine 120,000 Japanese Americans who were thought of as a potential threat to national security. Residents lived here from 1942 to 1945. This site reminds us that you can't make a generalization about a group of people based solely on their nationality. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center is located at 1539 Rd. 19 in Powell, Wyoming.
5. Fort Bridger
Fort Bridger was established in 1842 as a fur trading outpost. It became an important resupply stopover for those traveling along the Oregon Trail, California Trail and Mormon Trail. In 1858 during the Utah War, the Army established a military post here. This is a great way to experience what life was like in the mid 1800's for those who were migrating West. Fort Bridger is located at 37001 I-80BL in Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
6. Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary
The Wyoming Territorial Prison was built in 1872. It was used to confine the West's most violent and notorious outlaws; one of these being Butch Cassidy. Today, it's a museum where visitors can follow in the shackled footsteps and see what life was like for convicted outlaws back in the day. The Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary is located at 975 Snowy Range Road directly off I-80 Exit 311 in Laramie.
7. Trail End State Historic Site
Trail End is a historic home in Sheridan owned by John B. Kendrick who was a successful cattleman, Wyoming governor and U.S. Senator. This house gives us a glimpse of what life was like from 1913 to 1933 for the wealthier population during the early twentieth century. Trail End is located at 400 Clarendon Avenue in Sheridan.
8. Fossil Butte National Monument
The Fossil Butte National Monument contains the largest portion of freshwater fish fossils in the world. Fossil Butte rises 1,000 feet above Twin Creek Valley. There are more than 300 fossils on display there. Fossil Butte National Monument is located at 864 Chicken Creek Road in Kemmerer.
9. Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite
This little gem will unlock a door to the Middle Jurassic Period. At the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite, the fossilized tracks will take you way back in time. During the Middle Jurassic Period, this area was the shore of the Sundance Sea. Here, you will find tracks made by a diverse group of dinosaurs. The fossil dinosaur footprints are located on public land near Shell, Wyoming.
10. Old Trail Town
Old Trail Town will transport you back to 1879 - 1901. The town is made up of a collection of historic western buildings. One of the buildings is a log cabin which was the home of the Crow Indian named Curly. Some of the other buildings include a one room schoolhouse and a general store. Old Trail Town is located at 1831 Demaris Drive in Cody.