Wyoming, Pioneer Settlements in
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Warner, Ted J.
Beginning in 1855, LDS settlements were located in western Wyoming on the eastern approach to Utah. Fort Bridger was purchased and Fort Supply was founded in part to control the Oregon-California Trail entrance into the Great Basin. The Mormon pioneer trail crossed the breadth of Wyoming from Fort Laramie on the east to Fort Bridger on the west. Across Wyoming the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails were one and the same, with the exception of Sublette's Cutoff, until they reached Fort Bridger, where the Mormon Trail turned southwest along the Hastings Cutoff.
Fort Bridger, near present-day Evanston, was founded in 1843 by mountainmen Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez. Brigham Young and the original pioneers of 1847 stopped there en route to the Salt Lake Valley, and in 1855 the Church purchased the fort from Vasquez. Church leaders desired it as a supply station for the thousands of converts coming into the Great Basin and, because of its strategic location, as a base for missionary work among the Indians. When the men sent to occupy Fort Bridger encountered armed mountain men who refused to vacate, they established Fort Supply twelve miles to the southwest. Eventually Latter-day Saints took possession of Fort Bridger, but with the approach of the Utah expedition in 1857, they abandoned and destroyed both forts.
Individual LDS families began to resettle in the vicinity of Fort Bridger beginning in 1890, and a branch of the Church was organized there in 1894, eventually becoming headquarters for a stake.
LDS settlements were also established in western Wyoming's Star Valley (1879) and in north central Wyoming's Big Horn basin (1893, 1900). The latter was one of the last colonizing efforts conducted under official Church auspices (see Colonization).