History of Camp Carlin

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Camp Carlin - Cheyenne Depot, Wyoming 1884
Camp Carlin – Cheyenne Depot, Wyoming 1884

Shortly after the establishment of Fort Russell and the completion of the railroad across the continent, supplies that were formerly transported by wagon were shipped by rail and it became necessary to establish distributing points for handling army freight. Accordingly a quartermaster’s depot was located at Cheyenne, or more properly, on the Fort Russell reserve about half way between the city and the fort. When first located it was given the name of Camp Carlin, but when enlarged and completed it obtained the official name of “Cheyenne Depot.”

The central situation of Cheyenne between Omaha and Salt Lake City and its military trails going into the mountains and connecting with ten different army posts made it an especially advantageous location for an army depot, and in a short time it became the second in size of the military depots of this country, having sixteen large warehouses and many workshops for wheelwrights, blacksmiths, carpenters, saddle and harness makers, painters, etc. Two lines of railway side track ran through the depot connecting with the platforms of the warehouse for shipping or receiving freight. From three hundred to five hundred civilian laborers and teamsters were employed.

But its principal feature was the handling of wagon transportation to ten or twelve military posts, some of them four hundred miles away. Over one thousand mules were kept in the corrals of the depot and five trains of twenty, six-mule wagons and from three to five pack trains were a part of the regular equipment of the camp. The workshops were kept busy shoeing mules and horses, repairing wagons, making saddles and harness and outfitting expeditions into the Indian country.

Millions of dollars worth of supplies were assembled and sent out from this depot, including quartermaster stores, commissary stores, and ordnance and wagon equipment. Various Indian expeditions were outfitted at Camp Carlin, the last being the Milk River expedition, which under General Crook went to the relief of Thornburg forces in 1879. With the peaceful settlement of the Northwest and the subsidence of Indian outbreaks many forts were abandoned and the necessity for a supply depot disappeared, and Camp Carlin was abandoned by the Government in the spring of 1882.

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Source: History of Wyoming, Volume 1, by I. S. Bartlett, Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918

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