Betrayed at Fort Bridger: July 1846
Fort Bridger was so small and unpopulated compared to Fort Laramie that Virginia Reed must have felt quite disappointed as she rode toward the rustic supply post alongside her father. If so, it would have been immediately overshadowed by a more frightening disappointment: Lansford Hastings and a company of sixty-six wagons had left Fort Bridger without them.
This left the betrayed Donner Party to find their own way through the Wasatch Mountains, the Great Salt Desert, the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains without the benefit of a knowledgeable leader and the safety of a large company. Jim Bridger, mountain man turned emigrant supply-post owner, inexplicably assured the little party that the route was safe enough to go alone.
I spent several hours touring today’s Fort Bridger State Historic Site and Museum –a collection of reconstructed buildings, a trading post, and a comprehensive museum that includes the fort’s later Mormon days. I also explored the general area–a lush, green setting framed in the west by the awaiting Wasatch Mountains.
(Below: Today Fort Bridger is a Wyoming state historic site and museum that houses information and artifacts spanning several years of pioneers who traveled through on their way to California.)
(1800's photo of Jim Bridger)