Our KOA employers, owners Dave and Mary Jo, and Jim, our manager. Rhonda, Jim's wife, is missing because she just had some surgery and was sleeping when we left. We will never forget these wonderful people!
I know, I know! I shouldn't take pictures while I'm driving! Here we are headed up I-25 towards Casper. It's a short drive, 190 miles. Remember, it's our vacation!
The Casper KOA is really in the town of Bar Nunn, on the outskirts of Casper. We happened to be here on the last day the park is open for this year. We had a nice, big spot with plenty of room for our rig, truck and car, plus a spot to put up our kitty tent. The cats were happy to get out of the car, and after their snack to be put outside in their tent to enjoy the new smells.
We tried to visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center but found it closed on a Sunday. Since the building is up on a hill we got this pretty view of the city of Casper. It is green and full of trees, in contrast to the prairie around it. The mountains in the distance are the northernmost stretch of the Medicine Bows. The Platte River runs through the town. Casper is noted in Oregon Trail history as the place where the trails split into three, the Oregon Trail, The Mormon Trail and the California Trail. The names of the Trails are self-explanatory. The Oregon Trail ended in Fort Vancouver WA and Oregon City OR; the Mormon Trail ended in Utah, and the California Trail split into several different destinations in California.
We next tried the Fort Casper Museum and were happy to find that it was open. The Fort is a reconstruction, but that happened in 1936, so the log buildings are looking quite old. The original Fort was built in 1859. The one fact that stands out in my mind is that the Fort was named in honor of Lt. Caspar Collins who was killed in an Indian battle. They wanted to name it Fort Collins, but there was already a Fort named for Caspar's father in Colorado! So they settled for the Lt.'s first name.
This is a reconstruction of a small section of the toll bridge that crossed the Platte River at Casper. The trading post there served as a stage stop, a Pony Express relay station, and a telegraph office. After the Sand Creek masacre in 1864 the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe gathered at this bridge and fought the battle in which Lt. Caspar Collins was killed. The entire Fort was later dismantled and moved to Fort Fetterman near what later became Douglas WY. By the way, I found it interesting that even though Caspar Collin's name is spelled with an 'a' in the second syllable, the town founders changed the spelling to a 'e'.
In 1847 Brigham Young built and operated a ferry across the North Platte River near the site of present-day Fort Caspar Museum. It's difficult to believe that this little raft carried wagon after wagon across the river! However, it couldn't have been too risky. We have found that in all the places we've seen the Platte River it has been very placid, smooth, and not very deep. It's the principle river the Oregon Trail pioneers followed across the prairie. Well, tomorrow will bring us to Hardin MT where we'll once again tour the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Custer lost his life. I'll be posting about that!