Wheatland, WY

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Wheatland sort of amounted to a time filler for us.  We had booked a spot in Cheyenne for the Labor Day period some time ago and needed to fill a couple of days before going to Cheyenne.  In Wheatland we parked at Mountain View RV Park.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

We took advantage of our proximity to the Fort Laramie National Historic Site to make a day trip out there.  Located at the confluence of the Laramie River and the North Platte River, Fort Laramie was founded in the 1830’s to service the overland fur trade during the middle 19th century.  It was a primary resupply point for those traveling along the Oregon Trail.  In 1849, the Army purchased the site in order to provide protection for the many emigrants travelling though this region.  Later on, Fort Laramie became central to issues which arose between the local Native American tribes and the growing emigrants and settlers.  A number of treaties were negotiated and signed here.  After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the importance of Fort Laramie gradually decreased until it was decommissioned in 1890.

Next stop:  Cheyenne, WY

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Glenrock, WY

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From Lusk, we moved west to Glenrock, on the North Platte River, about 20 miles east of Casper, WY.  In Glenrock we parked at the Platte River Campground.

North Platte River

We checked out the Ayres Natural Bridge located a little east of Glenrock.  This rock bridge is 20 feet high with a span of 90 feet.  Since it is near the Oregon Trail, it is considered one of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions because it was often visited by emigrants traveling west.  In 1843, a pioneer described it as “a natural bridge of solid rock, over a rapid torrent, the arch being regular as tho’ shaped by art.”

On another day we headed west to Casper on the day they were holding a “5150 Festival”.  “5150” refers to the elevation of the city.  Apparently, they had quite a good party last year during the solar eclipse, being very much in the center of its path.  They were hoping for a repeat but in the absence of another eclipse they decided to go ahead with the festival anyway.

Next stop:  Wheatland, WY

Lusk, WY

From Rapid City, we headed south, reentered Wyoming and stopped off in Lusk.  This was mostly just a rest and relaxation stop after many days of sightseeing activity.  In Lusk we parked at BJ’s Campground.

Stagecoach Museum

The town of Lusk was on the route taken by the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Line which ran between Deadwood, SD, and Cheyenne, WY, via this 300 mile trail from 1875 until 1888 when the railroad took over.  When gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, the stage line connected the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne with the gold mining region of the Black Hills.  Lusk has preserved one of the coaches used on this stage line and it can be seen, along with a substantial amount of memorabilia from Lusk’s history in the Stagecoach Museum.  The coach was built by the Abbott-Dunning Company of Concord, NH, in 1863.  Along with others, it was shipped around Cape Horn to San Francisco.  It was used for a few years in the gold fields of Nevada before being brought to eastern Wyoming to the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Line.

Next stop:  Glenrock, WY

Rapid City, SD (Black Hills)

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The Black Hills area of western South Dakota holds many man-made and natural attractions that adds up to a very appealing place to visit and explore.  To do so, we parked at the American Buffalo Resort just south of the city of Rapid City, SD.

Mount Rushmore

The thing that most people know about this area is that this is where you can find Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Gutzon Borglum was the chief sculptor who dedicated 14 years of his life to creating this massive memorial to four men who had profound impact in the history of our country.  Their vision and leadership very literally shaped how we came to be the most unique democracy in the world.  In the words of Mr. Borglum, “A monument’s dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated.”  Carving began in 1927 and was completed in 1941, just months after Borglum’s death.  The cost was just shy of $1 million, almost double the original estimate.  Nearly 3 million people from all over the world visit Mount Rushmore every year. Continue reading