THE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAILS INTERPRETIVE CENTER is one of Wyoming's finest museums. Featuring state-of-the-art technology, the interpretive center allows the visitor to experience what pioneer life was like for the early emigrants traveling on the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail, Bozeman Trail, Bridger Trail and Pony Express Trail. The interpretive center features four outdoor kiosks, an entrance designed to resemble the curved top of a covered wagon, and visitors can experience a unique piece of western history as they sit in a wagon and view a simulated crossing of the North Platte River.
The highlight of the center is an award-winning audiovisual presentation illustrating the lives and times of early pioneers, including the Native American history of that era. The National Historical Trails Interpretive Center is a must see for all those interested in pioneer life and our nation's westward expansion.
The Oregon Trail was the only practical way for early pioneers to get across the mountains into the Western United States and what is now Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah. The largest migration along this route took place in the 1840's with travel continuing until the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Travel was difficult and pioneers encountered many hardships. In fact, one in ten people died during the 2,000-mile journey. Wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail still exist today. Oregon Trail history is a fascination part of our country's heritage. Click here for an Oregon Trail map.
Used by over a quarter of a million people, The California Trail carried farmers and those in search of gold to California during the 1840's and 1850's. Over 1,000 miles of wagon ruts can still be seen today in the rugged landscape between Casper, Wyoming and the West Coast. California Trail history provides a fascinating perspective on the massive migration to and through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and California. Click here for a California Trail map.
Led by Brigham Young, over 70,000 Mormons traveled along the Mormon Trail from 1846 to 1869 to escape religious persecution. Beginning in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Mormon Pioneer Trail crossed Iowa, connected with the Great Platte River Road at the Missouri River, and ended near the Great Salt Lake in Utah, nearly 1,300 miles later. An integral part of Mormon history, tens of thousands of Mormon emigrants passed through five states during this mass migration and resulted in a new home in the Great Basin. This area later became the State of Deseret, then the Utah Territory, and finally the State of Utah. Click here for a Mormon Trail map.
Pony Express Trail
Though in operation only eighteen months between 1860 and 1861, The Pony Express Trail is a colorful part of our nation's westward expansion. Known as the route for the horse and rider relay system that carried our nation's mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, the Pony Express Trail was the nation's means of carrying communications from east to west before the advent of the telegraph. The journey took ten days and showed the feasibility of overland transportation across the central United States. Much of the original trail no longer exists and the actual route and length is open to debate by historians. Click here for a Pony Express map.