Mile 753: Fort Laramie Milestone

“Fort Laramie marked the end of the High Plains, the beginning of the long upgrade haul to the Rocky Mountains. It was the end of the line for the sick, the tired, the downhearted. Tempers, frayed by weeks of mud, dust, sunglare, and Indian alarms, snapped. . . .

Fort Laramie was about an even one-third of the 2,000 mile distance from St. Joe to Sacramento—665 miles according to J.H.Clark, and during the 37 days it took him to travel this he tabulated also 248 graves and 35 abandoned wagons. . . .

While California gold was (hopefully) at the end of the continental rainbow, it could only be reached step by painful step, and Fort Laramie was the most important mile-stone to date. If you made it to Fort Laramie you were already entitled to spit in the Elephant’s eye; to reach Laramie was like crossing the equator on an ocean voyage. Accordingly, you approached the fabled spot with some ceremony.”