While we were traveling, Lee and I started talking about how things were when we first started full timing. In the beginning we would take the time to stop and see things along our route, but in the last couple of years our trips seemed to be just getting from A to B as quickly as possible. The only exceptions to this were when we had our two months off in the year, but the pace of all other trips is a bit punishing.
This time we decided we were not going to rush and Lee wanted me to try and find interesting things to do along the way. My favorite app for finding the weird and unusual is Roadside America so I opened the app and took a look. There was a time when I was constantly looking at this but I am sorry to say I stopped doing it awhile back. It was waiting for me though and I quickly found a statue of Jim Bridger who is a famous mountain man.
Part of the problem with Roadside America is you don’t know if there is parking for an RV, so I had to look the address up in google maps and do a satellite view to see if there was a place to park. It looked like there was a big parking lot close by, so we pulled off the highway and drove a few miles into Fort Bridger to see the statue. Now that’s a lot of work just to see a statue, but if you don’t ever get off the interstate you never see anything. And sometimes it turns into an amazing surprise which is exactly what happened to us.
As we were pulling into the parking lot and finding a spot we noticed there were tons of building all around. There was also a picnic area and restrooms and we were both confused by what we were looking at. Turns out the statue is in front of the Fort Bridger Historic site which is a huge historical park. It cost $5 per person to get in but the park was packed full of buildings (36 in all) and was well worth the fee. It was also dog friendly, and we spent well over two hours walking through the park and looking at all the buildings. But first of course we saw the statue.
Once we entered the fort itself we saw that it had been many things. It was a trading post, a fort, and a Mormon settlement. Some of the buildings were re-creations, and others had survived the fires that had torched the settlement. It had a really interesting history and was extremely well done. ‘
The property is really large and was an interesting mix of recreations, original buildings, and layouts where buildings used to be. A strong stream runs through the property and its easy to imagine people living there. The insides of the buildings were expertly done and in many cases it really looked like someone had just got up from the table. I really liked that.
In the far right corner of the property there was a recreation of the original fort. I almost missed it because the signage wasn’t that great, but Lee walked down and that was one of my favorite areas.
They also had a museum in the back of the fort area with a shop as well. This was the only place we weren’t allowed to take Jack so we took turns. Again very well done for a small town museum. Behind the museum was the foundation of the Mormon settlement. The Mormon’s burned the fort and fled when the Army approached.
In the far left corner of the property there were two huge houses. One of them was actually disassembled and moved, served as a hotel, bought by an architect, disassembled again and stored, and then finally brought back to it’s original location as part of this park. Amazing. Both houses were open and had some of the rooms decorated again with extraordinary detail. We just don’t see this level of commitment in most small town museums.
Definitely worth the five dollars and a cool thing to see to get our Wyoming state sticker. Also, what a wonderful surprise. We thought it would be a quick stop to see a statue and we got all of this instead. Definitely reminded us of the importance of making time to see a few things along the way.
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