A major route for emigrants, freighters, the military, stagecoaches and mail, the Overland Trail across present southern Wyoming saw heavy traffic in the 1850s and 1860s. At different stations along the way, coach drivers obtained fresh horses, the wives of station masters fed dusty travelers and soldiers fought attacking warriors.
By Rebecca Hein
Freight, mail and stagecoach passengers endured the rough, dangerous road from Rawlins on the Union Pacific through Lander to the Shoshone reservation for 27 years. “God bless the old stage line; she is doomed,” one postmaster wrote in 1906, when a railroad first reached Lander, “but it beat walking.”
During the Civil War, varying companies of soldiers from five states served at Fort Halleck on the Overland Trail in what’s now south-central Wyoming. They defended stagecoach stations, passengers, freighters and emigrant trains. Some died in blizzards, some witnessed a legal hanging and some lynched an African-American ambulance driver.
In 1901, a Casper newspaper ran this account of a 140-mile stagecoach trip from Casper to Thermopolis. The journey lasts a night, a day and another night. Rough roads make sleep impossible. But the food is pretty good and the service friendly at the ranches along the way.
A stagecoach station established in 1856 at the confluence of the Ham’s and Black’s Fork Rivers west of Green River lay on long-distance travel routes used earlier by Indians, fur trappers and emigrants. In 1868 the Union Pacific Railroad established a station nearby, and renamed the place Granger. The site of the old stage station and one acre of land were donated to the state of Wyoming in 1930 to honor the early travelers.