Thoughts on Traveling Through History

Back home again. After almost four weeks of travel, it was good to get back into my own home. My half-way neat home turned into a storage area until we got all the bags, boxes, and sacks put away, all while wondering how we ended up at home with so much stuff. It seemed to have multiplied in the back of the truck.
We took the scenic route home through Montana on I-90 due to snow and storms in Wyoming. My first driving rule is no travel in winter, but that rule is quickly being left in the dust—or the snowbank. I love interstate driving. I can easily pass vehicles without having to wonder who’s coming head on and the roads are usually in better condition than the two-lane highways.
In eastern Wyoming, I-25/I-90 goes past some of the most historical sites in the West. The highway follows the Bozeman Trail that gold miners followed between Cheyenne and the gold fields of Montana in the 1860s. The Sioux and Cheyenne Indians held those lands under treaty and objected to the trespassers who were upsetting the wildlife (aka food supply). The U.S. Army built Fort Phil Kearny near the Tongue River between Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming. The Indians and soldiers had several battles, most notably the Wagon Box fight, and the struggle culminated in the Fetterman Massacre. Captain Fetterman bragged that he could defeat the whole Sioux nation with only twenty men. He was wrong. He and eighty men were completely wiped out by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. After signing the Laramie Treaty of 1868 that granted the Indians right to the land as long as the grass grew and the rivers flowed, the Army abandoned Fort Phil Kearny. Before they were over the ridge, the Sioux moved in and burned the fort, celebrating their victory over the encroachers. One of the few Indian victories over the U.S. Army.
Up the road a few miles is the Custer Battlefield. Just a decade after the Treaty of 1868 was ratified, the railroad wanted to send their tracks through the lands granted to the Indians by treaty. Railroad owners were lawbreakers when it served their pocketbooks. The Sioux and Cheyenne objected to breaking the treaty. Custer went looking to make them pay for defying the railroad owners and was intent on attacking the peaceful Indian village along the Little Bighorn River. But he underestimated the determination of those people to protect their women, children, and aged. You know the rest of the story. Another one of the few Indian victories over the U.S. Army. While it was Custer’s last stand, it was also the beginning of the end of the Sioux and Cheyenne way of life.
We drove past the mining fields at the end of the Bozeman Trail in western Montana. Those miners didn’t clean up anything after they abandoned their diggings. But the mountains and landscape were beautiful under a fresh coat of snow. Thankfully that coat of snow didn’t extend over the roads and we sailed home on dry pavement. Once again, I am thankful to the ALmighty for safe travels over many miles.

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