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Evanston - Wyoming

Fort Bridges, WY

Fort Bridger Comander's Quarters - Wikipedia Commons

A cow town in the southwest corner of Wyoming, Evanston is the ending (or starting) place for a scenic drive from or to the Salt Lake City area, leading through the Mirror Lake region, with views of the High Uinta Range.

The history of Evanston lies in the building of the Union Pacific Railroad and the town grew after the famed Bear River City riot of November 21, 1868. The disturbance was the result of a gang of roughnecks coming to town to prey on railroad workers. Soldiers from nearby Fort Bridger were sent to quell the riot but were hardly needed because, by that time, the picked-upon had taken care of the roughnecks.

Bear River City went into decline and Evanston became the railroad town, and thus the the commercial and agricultural center of the region. Accommodations in Evanston are plain and simple -- a dozen motels, mostly low-priced -- and a fine bed and breakfast home.

What to See & Do

The best attraction near Evanston is Fort Bridger State Historic Site. Located along Interstate 80 between Evanston and Lyman, the fort features restored buildings and a museum which commemorate the original Fort Bridger, built in 1842 by mountain man, Indian fighter and guide Jim Bridger. With his partner, Louis Vasquez, Bridger opened the fort in 1843 as a trading post, strategically located beside the Black's Fork River on the Overland Route. The fur business was declining and the pair served the steady stream of western migrants.

Fort Bridger became an important provisioning center. The fort was burned during the so-called "Mormon War" which saw clashes between a growing Mormon community and federal troops. U.S. Army Colonel A.S. Johnson took over the site and declared it a military reservation. It was re-built in 1858 and made a military post, then a station on the Pony Express route and finally a supply center when the Union Pacific came through with its tracks in 1967.

The fort was permanently abandoned in 1890 and was used for a variety of purposes until it was acquired by the state in the 1920s. It's open daily from April 15 to October 15, and entry is free of charge. There are a few campsites on the fort site.

While there are only two private campgrounds in Evanston and no public campgrounds nearby except for the few at Fort Bridger. The best camping is on a scenic drive across the Utah border in the Mirror Lake area. There are many scenic forest campsites along this route (Highway 150) This road leads eventually to the Salt Lake City area.

A Day Trip from Evanston

A complicated but enjoyable sideroad drive leads southeast from Evanston to Green River (WY) and Manila (UT), the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Vernal, Utah. On the way, the route passes the historic southern border communities of Lonetree and Burntfork, located on Henry's Fork.

This was the site of the series of Rocky Mountain fur trade "rendezvous" which started in 1825. Mountain men, fur traders and Indians came to Henry's Fork from far and wide to see each other and to trade tall stories.

To start on this trip, drive east on Interstate 80 past Fort Bridger and turn south on Road 414, which leads through the small communities of Mountain View and Lonetree. Past Burtfork, the road continues to Manila and then Highway 44 leads past the red gorge.




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