Wild West Revival: 20 Frontier Forts to Explore

Step back in time to the days of the American frontier, where forts and outposts dotted the landscape, serving as bastions of safety and hubs of exploration. Here are 20 historic sites that capture the rugged spirit of the Wild West.

1. Fort Laramie, Wyoming

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Philip Eckerberg

Originally established as a fur trading post in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into a significant military stronghold, pivotal for pioneers journeying on the Oregon Trail.

2. Fort Apache, Arizona

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Situated in the White Mountains, this fort was a strategic post in the conflicts with the Apache during the late 19th century.

3. Fort Benton, Montana

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Joseph Sohm

Known as the “Birthplace of Montana,” this fort was a critical trading post on the Upper Missouri River and a key to the fur trade and westward expansion.

4. Fort Bridger, Wyoming

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kobby Dagan

Founded by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843, this fort served as a supply stop for travelers on the Oregon Trail and later as a military outpost.

5. Fort Union, New Mexico

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As the largest 19th-century military fort in the region, Fort Union played a crucial role in controlling the Santa Fe Trail.

6. Fort Davis, Texas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / William Silver

Established in 1854, this fort was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons from Apache and Comanche raids.

7. Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / James P Mock

This fort was one of three constructed along the Bozeman Trail and was the site of several significant battles during Red Cloud’s War.

8. Fort Sill, Oklahoma

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Founded in 1869, Fort Sill remains an active military installation and played a key role in the Indian Wars.

9. Fort Smith, Arkansas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / EWY Media

Established in 1817, this fort was crucial in maintaining peace along the volatile frontier between the Osage and Cherokee tribes.

10. Fort Buford, North Dakota

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Founded in 1866 at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, Fort Buford is famous for receiving the surrender of Sitting Bull in 1881.

11. Fort Scott, Kansas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / William Silver

This fort was established in 1842 to protect the permanent Indian frontier and later served as a supply base during the Civil War.

12. Fort Garland, Colorado

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Established in 1858, it was commanded by the legendary frontiersman Kit Carson and served as a base for operations against the Ute Indians.

13. Fort Larned, Kansas

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This fort served as an important military base for campaigns against the Plains Indians and as a guardian of the Santa Fe Trail.

14. Fort Robinson, Nebraska

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Joseph Sohm

Starting as a camp in 1874, this fort witnessed several key events in the Indian Wars, including the death of Crazy Horse.

15. Fort Dodge, Kansas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Michael Rosebrock

Located near the Santa Fe Trail, this fort provided protection against raids and was a vital resupply point for wagons heading west.

16. Fort Vancouver, Washington

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jeffrey M. Frank

Established in 1825 as a fur trading outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company, it later served as a key supply depot for operations in the Pacific Northwest.

17. Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota

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This trading post was a key economic hub on the upper Missouri River, pivotal in the fur trade and interactions with Northern Plains tribes.

18. Fort Hall, Idaho

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Originally a trading post on the Snake River, Fort Hall became a significant stop on the Oregon Trail.

19. Fort Sutter, California

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Uladzik Kryhin

Founded by John Sutter in 1839, this fort was a key agricultural and trade colony and famously near where gold was discovered, sparking the California Gold Rush.

20. Fort Kearny, Nebraska

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ian Dewar Photography

Established in 1848, this fort helped protect pioneers on the Oregon Trail from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains and served as a significant staging area for military operations.

A Glimpse into the Past

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Suliman Sallehi

Exploring these forts offers a glimpse into the complex history of the American West, filled with tales of commerce, conflict, and the relentless push for expansion. Each site holds stories of hardship and heroism, echoing the enduring spirit of the Wild West.

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The post Wild West Revival: 20 Frontier Forts to Explore republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / sumikophoto.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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