Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- April 1, 2015

The Oregon Trail -- Part 1

This month, in honor of the publication of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection, I'm going to feature Wyoming sites along the Oregon Trail in my Wednesday in Wyoming posts. 

As pioneers entered what is now the state of Wyoming, the first major landmark they encountered was Fort Laramie.  And without a doubt, the most prominent building was the bachelor officers' quarters (BOQ), quickly nicknamed "Old Bedlam" because of the rowdy parties held there.

Built in 1849, Old Bedlam is the oldest military building in Wyoming and had a variety of uses.  Although it's most famous as a BOQ, it also served as the post headquarters and later housed married officers. 
As you can see, some of the officers left permanent reminders of their stay at Old Bedlam by signing the wall over the fireplace.  The table with cards and liquor bottles gives you an idea of how they spent their free time.
While the enlisted men had large dining halls and probably never saw a tablecloth, the officers had more privacy and luxury.  Still, life was not easy on a western fort.  Although there were few battles to be fought, the harsh conditions and boredom led to a relatively high desertion rate. 

I imagine that the arrival of wagon trains during the summer months helped alleviate the soldiers' boredom.  For the pioneers, Fort Laramie was the last place to rest and restock before they faced the most difficult part of their journey: crossing the mountains.

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