The Old Army Bridge – Fort Laramie National Historic Site

The Old Army Bridge

Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

On our way into the Fort Laramie National Historic Site, we came across this sizeable three-span bridge over the North Platte River. Our first view of the bridge was from the north side, with little space to park. We would soon discover a small parking area with some informational plaques that told the story of the bridge. One of the plaques reads in part, “Erected 1875. This bridge was a vital link between Cheyenne, Fort Laramie, and the military outposts, Indian agencies, and gold fields of the Black Hills Dakota region.

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Three-span bridge viewed looking south

Consisting of two 125-foot (38 m) spans and one 150-foot (46 m) span, the bridge is constructed of wrought iron and native pine. The 12-foot (4 m) roadway carried the typical daily traffic across the North Platte River when the bridge was finally completed in 1876.

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Old Army Bridge deck

The bridge was replaced by a concrete and steel bridge (just visible to the right in the image above) in 1958, and a complete restoration of the original structure provided pedestrian use for the historic bridge in 1969.

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The Old Army Bridge as viewed from the south end

The bridge has a total length of 400 feet (122 m) and covers a much larger area than the summer width of the North Platte. No doubt it is as long as it needed to be to handle the widened river during the spring snowmelt.

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Planter boxes

At some point in the history of the bridge, two large boat-shaped planter boxes sit astride the bridge. There were no markers or other indications of their purpose.

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The southern end of the bridge and the parking area as viewed from my drone

The small parking area features access to a small park and a trailhead that, as you can see from the drone shot, accesses the trail that parallels the southern side of the North Platte.

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Confluence Trailhead

Wayside markers provide information as you walk along the 1.6-mile (2.6 km) hiking trail. It’s an easy walk on relatively level ground. The trail is a lasso loop that goes from the parking lot at the bridge to the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers and back. The view along the river is shaded by cottonwood and willow trees that grow along the river banks.

For a closer look at any of the images or check out the metadata click on any photo. You can also view and scroll through all of the images on my Flickr site in 2K HD by clicking here.

John Steiner

24 comments

    • I find it the most fun to be able to stop and launch the drone. I’ve got a couple of bridge images this trip as well, but on the day we went by, it was too windy to launch the drone.

    • Fortunately in the past, the powers that be have had the foresight to do just that. These days, we seem to find less of that preservation attitude. It is an unfortunate historic loss when they tear down these pieces of our history.

  1. What fun. I love bridges, too, and you have captured some lovely shots of this one. Can you imagine using a wooden bridge built in 1875 clear up to 1958? They must have had to continually replace the wood in order for it to be safe. Love the drone. 🙂

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