Summer Exhibit Series: The Military in Laramie

The military, much like the Union Pacific Railroad, has close ties with Laramie’s history. Established two years before Laramie was, Fort Sanders was to protect those that traveled along the Overland Trail in southern Wyoming. When Laramie was established in 1868, the fort took on the new role of protecting those that worked for the Union Pacific Railroad.


Sketch of Fort Sanders dated 1875. Photo file: Fort Sanders, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

Before Laramie was established, the fort was small in size but grew to include six companies and a guard house. Even so, the fort became less important with Fort D. A. Russell, now F.E. Warren Air Force Base, being built in Cheyenne. At that point, the days of Fort Sanders seemed numbered, but the War Department ran the fort until 1882.

Not much remains of Fort Sanders and that part of Laramie’s military history. Further north of Fort Sanders, on the University of Wyoming campus is where another military legacy of Laramie resides, along with other memorials across town. The students, faculty, and alumni of UW have a history of military service that can be seen reflected in collections such as UW Air Force ROTC and the University of Wyoming, Department of Military Science collections.


University of Wyoming Cadet Corp, Department of Military Science and Tactics, drills on campus, 1893 (Old Main and the Mechanical Arts buildings seen in the background). B. C. Buffum Papers, Accession #400055, Box 14, Item 35, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Military history in Laramie is a history of many, far too many to showcase all those that took part in it. Over the next two weeks, various collections relating to Laramie’s military history will be showcased within the exhibits.

The Military in Laramie exhibit will run from July 24 to August 6. Exhibits can be viewed in the 4th floor Reading Room of the American Heritage Center. Reading Room hours are Monday 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Tuesday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

– Submitted by Katey Parris, AHC Reference Department.


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