Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming

Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming

Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming

By Tom Lindmier

With a foreword by Douglas C. McChristian

The story of Fort Fetterman is one of hardship and hard luck, but it is also the story of a frontier military post too tough to die, at least for a while. Throughout its active life, location worked both for and against it, too often the latter.

Author Owen Wister visited Fetterman and used it as a basis for his fictional town Drybone, thus the title for this book. Crazy Horse called it a source of irritation, the one thing he objected to in the Treaty of 1868. But author Lindmier calls Fort Fetterman full of excitement and challenge. He calls it an important frontier military post.

Established in 1867 to protect travelers on the Bozeman Trail, Fort Fetterman was under siege nearly constantly. It soon became the launching point for General Crook's 1876 campaigns that eventually led to the Battle of Little Big Horn. But by 1880, with the Indians confined to reservations and the territory peaceful, the fort's usefulness was diminished. It was soon abandoned.

Unlike most abandoned frontier posts, however, Fort Fetterman refused to die. Civilians in the area, already accustomed to the place, immediately moved into the buildings. The buildings took on new life—the post was reborn as a rowdy shoot-'em-up cowtown occupied by squatters running bars, brothels, markets, stables, hotels, and even a hospital. When the railroad bypassed Fetterman in 1890, its residents packed up and moved down the road, and Fetterman, almost overnight, was once again abandoned. This time for good.

  • • 0-931271-66-5 • 256 pp • trade paper • maps • index • bibliography • many historic photos • $19.95 ORDER NOW
Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming

Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming

By Tom Lindmier

"Author Tom Lindmier [has] a more intimate knowledge of the fort’s history than perhaps any other person. He shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for one of the West’s important, but heretofore neglected, forts."
•• Douglas C. McChristian The U.S. Army in the West 1870–1880: Uniforms and Equipment

Tom Lindmier

Tom Lindmier

Tom Lindmier was raised in Douglas, Wyoming, near the site of historic Fort Fetterman. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Wyoming. He has recently retired from a career in historic site development, interpretation, and management.

Tom is a generalist in western history with a strong interest in military, ranching, transportation, and general western expansion.

His first book, I See By Your Outfit, written with co-author Steve Mount, was the culmination of a lifelong interest in cowboy photographs and gear. Lindmier's family owned ranches near Douglas.

His second book with High Plains Press, Drybone: A History of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, began he was while a senior in high school as part of an independent study program for honor students. The resulting research paper set him off on a journey of over thirty years of additional research. While a student at the University of Wyoming, he worked four summers as the groundskeeper at Fort Fetterman State Historic Site. Since then, while working for the State of Wyoming at various historic sites, he has maintained his lifelong love for the history of Fort Fetterman and the area.