Saturday, April 30, 2022

Forts Along the California and Oregon Trails by Zina Abbott

The following is from my Author Notes in Pearl, my most recent romance, which is a wagon train story set in 1858. Entire books have been written about each of these places mentioned, so this is a very brief summary:

         Pioneers on the Oregon and California Trails—unless individual trains in which they traveled took a cutoff—passed by four major trading forts.

Fort Kearney

          Fort Kearney was a military installation established in 1848 to protect travelers on the Great Platte River Road. It was located about one-sixth of the way to either Oregon or California. Wagon trains moving west were able to resupply, trade trail-weary livestock for fresh, and letters could be sent back to the United States.

Fort Laramie

         Fort Laramie began in 1834 as a fur trading post. It was bought by the U.S. Army in 1849. As pioneer traffic to the west increased, it provided security, a trading post for supplies, and a place for repairs. It was the major stop between Fort Kearney and Fort Bridger.

 Fort Bridger 1840s

         Fort Bridger began as a trading post. It was on the trail to Salt Lake City, plus wagon trains bound for Oregon and California often made the relatively small detour to reach the fort for supplies and repairs. It was bought by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1855, although the sales documents and powers of attorney involved were challenged by Jim Bridger. With the belief that the coming U.S. Army had been sent to exterminate the church and its people, the same church burned and abandoned the fort in 1857. 


Fort Bridger 1858

    Fort Bridger was taken over by the U.S. Army. By 1858, construction on the fort had begun and a sutler’s store run by William A. Carter was established. He ran it until his death in 1881, at which time his wife, Elizabeth, took over supplying both military men stationed at the fort and travelers alike. The sutler also ran the post office.


Fort Hall

         On the banks of the Snake River, Fort Hall was a trading post built in 1834 by Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth. In 1858, it was located in Oregon Territory. In February 1859, when Oregon became a state, it was part of Washington Territory. Initially, Fort Hall’s owners did not wish to be a supplier for travelers bound for Oregon or California, but it was soon forced into that role as it became a regular stop on both trails. It became one of the most important stopping places along the trails.



Pearl, Book 16 in the Prairie Roses Collection, is set in 1858 and follows both the Oregon and California Trails.It is currently for sale as an ebook and at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It will shortly be available in print.

To find the link to the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE.


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