History of Fort Mackenzie

On January 13, 1899, Francis E. Warren, United States Senator from Wyoming introduced a bill for the creation of a Government military post near the City of Sheridan. The necessity for such a post had been brought to the attention of President McKinley the year before and an executive order had been issued for the establishment of temporary barracks under the supervision of Gen. E.V. Summer. In the debate on the Warren bill the fact was brought out that there were over twenty-three thousand Indians upon the various reservations tributary to the proposed fort. These included the Fort Benton, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Burle, Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations in the Dakotas; the Blackfoot, Flathead, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indians in Montana; the Fort Hall Indians in Idaho and the Uintah and Uncompahgre Utes in Utah.

Fort Mackenzie 1903
Fort Mackenzie 1903, Photograph by J E Stimson. Stimson Collection, Wyoming State Archives

In 1905 the fort had become a well equipped military establishment. In February of the year the State of Wyoming granted to the post a large tract of land for the enlargement of the reservation, taking in exchange other Government lands. The same year a post hospital was built and since then other buildings have been erected. A system of waterworks was constructed for the post at a considerable cost and Fort Mackenzie became the second post of the state in importance, being exceeded only by Fort D. A. Russell at Cheyenne.

In the spring of 1918 the garrison consisted of Lieut. Herman Hurring and six men belonging to the quartermaster’s department and a movement for the abandonment of the post was inaugurated. In an article contributed to the Cheyenne Leader, the writer says: “Fort Mackenzie, with its 5,000 acres of land would make an ideal location for a military school. Its buildings are of pressed brick and substantially constructed and with little expense could be made to serve admirably the purpose of an academy. **** if proper representations were made by those in authority, it is very probable that the fort could be secured upon most favorable conditions. Naturally, nothing can be done until formal orders come abandoning the fort as a military post, but in my judgment this order may be expected at no distant day”

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

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