Fort Bernard

By Luke Anderson

March 25, 2016

Fort Bernard is a trading post site near Fort Laramie. The fort was established in 1845 by Bernard Pratte and Joseph Bissonnette. It was later sold to and operated by the American Fur Company. As was the case with many forts and trading posts in the west, Fort Bernard hosted its fair share of colorful characters. One of these people that once populated Fort Bernard was the notorious Sir Lord George Gore, a wealthy and eccentric Irish immigrant known as the "Buffalo Slayer" who explored the area in 1854.  Gore was known to have used the fort to store some of his belongings while he explored Colorado with legendary mountain man Jim Bridger. Gore traveled with many luxuries from his home in Ireland including guns, dining equipment, a full set of classic books and musical instruments, some of which have been excavated at the site.. 

In addition to the smattering of unique individuals that used the fort, Fort Bernard also played a significant role in broader historical themes of the west. A battle that resulted in the death of a Lakota Sioux chief and several U.S. soldiers happened near the fort in 1854 and is considered an important early event in the Plains Indians Wars that occurred in the mid-19th century. The fort burned down in 1866 and was not rebuilt. The Western History Center, based in Lingle, Wyoming, has been doing archaeological work at the Fort Bernard site. A $1 gold coin from 1851 has been found, as well as other artifacts like buttons, square nails, glass, bullet cartridges, trading beads, a leather hat and leather boots.   

An archaeological crew excavates the foundation of the Gratiot House at Fort Bernard.

The stone foundation of the building needs to be preserved. The Western History Center is also looking to build a fence around the main building site. Weed management is also an issue that is affecting the integrity of the historic landscape.

If you would like to learn more about Fort Bernard or contact the Western History Center, please click here.   

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