Historic Trails

books by Kathleen Wallsarchives of American Roads and Global Highways
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For me, the fort's history was fascinating. Crazy Horse was killed there. Many other famous people passed through the fort; Red Cloud, Walter Reed, Arthur McArthur who was General Douglas McArthur's father, Doc Middleton known as King of the Horse Thieves,   James Thurkel "Turk" Greenough who was one of the world's champion saddle bronco riders and his wife, Sally Rand, the famous fan dancer.  Want to bet her visit stired things up at the fort?


One of the many historic buildings at Fort Robinson
Fort Robinson began in 1874 as a temporary encampment because of the Indian unrest in the area. It was named for Lieutenant Levi Robinson, who was killed in February 1874.  

It expanded and became one of the largest military installations on the northern plains. It was the place where Crazy Horse was killed after surrendering in 1877 and the site of the last great Cheyenne Outbreak  in 1879.

Unlike many of the forts built to protect settlers for Indian attacks, Fort Robinson continued on into the 20th century.

It became the nation's largest quartermaster remount depot  in 1919 after the Remount Service was officially activated. The fort also served as an Olympic equestrian training center from 1935 to 1939. No wonder so many horsemen visit the fort.

The horse is reminiscent of the days when
Fort Robinson served as a remount station
When I visited, I found an well-equipped riding stable where visitors can rent a horse for a trail ride or you can bring your own and have it stabled here. The park has two stables. Although the park is 22,000 acres, there are about 40 to 70 thousand acres you can ride.

You can take a horse drawn wagon tour if you aren't a rider. There are still a lot of the original army buildings. I visited the old blacksmith shop. It really takes you back to the old days.

When World War ll broke out, it served the country as a war dog training camp and a prisoner of war camp. According to Peter Wilson, at one point there were as many as 3000 POWs housed here.

WAC display in the Historical Musuem Former headquarters building now
gift shop and musuem
It also was a base of the new Women's Army Corp (WACs). You can only imagine how the arrival of these women must have been looked forward to by the male soldiers serving at Fort Robinson.

Replica of the stockade office where Crazy Horse was held
The WACs were quartered in barracks built behind the officers quarters. They preformed jobs on the post ranging from secretarial to truck driving and transporting prisoner of war to job sites.

The museum in the Post Headquarters Building above the gift shop is maintained by the historical society and tells a lot more about the WACs at Fort Robinson. It also had a lot of informational about the dogs that were trained there and other fort information. Be prepared to spend a lot of time browsing all the interesting information, artifacts and pictures.

There is another museum near the marker where Crazy Horse was killed that relates more to the earlier operation of the fort during the Indian Wars. Be sure to visit the stockade where Crazy Horse was imprisoned just next door to that museum.

Officers Quarters
Today, the park is still serving the public. It has about 55 buildings averaging over 110 years old. I stayed in the officers' quarters and as Park Superintendent Mike Morava stated, "I challenge you to find another 1874 building you can stay in overnight."

The Officers Quarters are comfortable, spacious and well equipped but not luxurious. For me the thrill was lying in my bed and wondering about the officers who had stayed here many years ago. Perhaps a young lieutenant just out of West Point anticipating a long career in the army or an captain with his wife and children may have called this his home.

You can stay in the enlisted men's quarters or camp here too either with your tent or an RV. During the heat of the day, you can head for the indoor Lindeken Pool, complete with outdoor wading pool and sun deck.

A big horn sheep jumps down a cliff Fort Robinson's wagon tour

The park has a well established little theater for entertainment. There is also a rodeo every Thursday. This is more like a little town than a park. For nature lovers, there is hiking, kayaking, canoeing on the White River.

Dining room at Fort Robinson
The park has jeep tours, where you can get an ride among the buttes. I took this one and was thrilled to have a really good view of the newly re-introduced long horn sheep.

You don't have to leave the park for dining. The park dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner during the summer.

Fort Robinson has more facts than a history book and is so much more fun.





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