Fort Laramie Photos

Continued from previous page

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This page: Old Bedlam.

Big Horn Basin Black Hills Bone Wars Buffalo Cambria Casper Cattle Drives Centennial Cheyenne Chugwater Cody Deadwood Stage Douglas Dubois Encampment Evanston Ft. Bridger Ft. Fetterman Ft. Laramie Ft. Russell Frontier Days Ghost Towns Gillette G. River F. V. Hayden Tom Horn Jackson Johnson County War Kemmerer Lander Laramie Lincoln Highway Lusk Meeteetse Medicine Bow N. Platte Valley Oil Camps Overland Stage Pacific Railroad Rawlins Rock Springs Rudefeha Mine Sheepherding Sheridan Shoshoni Superior Thermopolis USS Wyoming Wheatland Wild Bunch Yellowstone

Table of Contents
About This Site

Old Bedlam, approx. 1939. All rights reserved G. B. Dobson.

As noted on a prior page, the military took over Fort Laramie in 1849 from the American Fur Company. Old Bedlam was one of the first new buildings constructed by the Army. It was designed by a young Army Engineer, Daniel P. Woodbury (1812-1864). Woodbury had previously laid out the site of Fort Kearny, Neb. and was involved in the construction of Fort Jefferson and lighthouses in the Florida Keys. For his actions in the Civil War he was brevetted as a major general and given command of Union forces in South Florida. He died of Yellow Fever in Key West in August, 1864.

Fort Laramamie, approx. 1939.

In 1939, with the acquisition of the Fort, the National Park Service began a program of stablizing the remaning buildings. Additionally, all buildings no matter how modest were documented.

Two-room privy, 1939. All rights reserved G. B. Dobson.

The privy, dated about 1885, was apparently for officers' use. The enlisted men used a large communnal latrine which drained into the river. Originally it had, among other amenities, plaster interior walls and wallpaper. In one room, the seats were stained walnut. In the other, the seats were painted ivory. Above the wall paper, the top of the walls in one room were painted pink. The exterior was orignally done with a maroon trim, doors and louvers. The privy, however, is not in its orginal location and had been moved. As can be seen in the background, Old Bedlam has been stablized by boarding up the windows and keeping the elements out. The privy itself has been stablized with a temporary metal roof.

Two-room privy, 1939.

The ruins one the top of the hill in the background are those of the post hospital.

Lt. Col. W. O. Collins

Old Bedlam was also used 1863-1864 by Lt. Col. William O. Collins of the 11 Ohio Cavalry as the post headquarters and as a residence. Ft. Collins, Colorado is named after Collins. Collins was also the father of Caspar Collins after whom Casper is named. During the Civil War, forces in the West were reduced due to a pressing need in the east. Thus, using volunteers, forces centered on Ft. Laramie had the task of keeping the mail route open to California. A series of subordinate forts were then established along the Platte River for this purpose. Most, like Fort Mitchell, were temporary affairs. Fort Mitchell, itself, was a soddie fort, and, thus, all physical traces of it have disappeared.

Some have theorized that the name, "Old Bedlam" arose from the activities of the young officers when the building was used as the B.O.Q., somewhat in the same manner as some college fraternities have developed an "Animal House" reputation. Supposedly, some of the timbers from the original stockade fort were used in its construction. The remainder of the original fort was recycled as firewood. Old Bedlam is reputedly the oldest standing building in the state.

"Old Bedlam" in process of restoration, approx. 1949.

Following the end of World War II, restoration of the various buildings was undertaken. Old Bedlam has now been restored, as a part of the national monument, to its 1854-1855 appearance as depicted in the next photograph.

Restored "Old Bedlam," 2001, photo by Geoff Dobson

Next page: Post Hospital, Sutler's store, Guard Mount.