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Laramie, Wyoming; history of town name and a mountain man

Updated on November 29, 2014

The City of Laramie, Wyoming was named after a mountain man by the name of Jacques LaRamie who disappeared in the mountains that are now named after him. It was in the late 1810s that the well-known trapper went into the mountains and seemingly disappeared. It appears that his body was never found and the stories vary as to what happened to him. In spite of such a mysterious disappearance of the man, the legend lives on in the names of the City of Laramie, the Laramie River, and Fort Laramie are monuments to the French or French Canadian fur trapper that gave them their names.

Laramie, Wyoming is the county seat of Albany County, Wyoming in the United States. According to the 2010 census it has a population of 30,816. It is on the Laramie River about 50 miles west of Cheyenne. Interstate highways 80 and U.S. route 287 meet there. It is also the place where the Union Pacific Railroad and the Laramie River met. The city crew up where the railroad crosses the river. Today the city is home to such things as the Wyoming Technical Institute, a branch of the Laramie County Community college, and the Laramie Regional Airport. An army fort which was there before the city was Fort Sanders. Its ruins are just south of the city. It has many visitors who go there for their abundance of outdoor activities and Money Magazine, according to Wikipedia, named the city as one of the best to retire in.

Story of a Mountain man

Jacques la Ramee, or Jacques La Remy, or LaRamie was of French heritage. He was either from France or he was a French Canadian. Whatever the case he was a trapper and a fur trader, generally known as mountain men. He moved to Wyoming sometime between 1815 and 1821.”He left to go trapping along what is now known as the Laramie River,” according to the website article on Jacques La Ramee. When he did not show up for the rendezvous the following year a search party went looking for him. A rendezvous is a gathering of trappers and mountain men usually attended by some Indians and traders as well. It is a combination of party, trading and just letting loose after a season in the cold and lonesome wilderness.

The search party did not find him but some stories conclude that he was killed by Arapaho Indians. However, the Arapaho strongly denied doing that. Although there are a number of legends nobody knows what happened to the trapper who has so many landmarks bearing his name in Wyoming. He was a mysterious man as noted in the genealogy article. Yet he was also influential in his own environment. An image of a man of integrity, independence, and upright character emerges. He apparently came to the United States in about 1815 with the North West Company which was a major fur company at the time that was a major rival to the Hudson Bay Company. The companies generated competition among their employees leading to violence. As a result, La Ramee gathered some trappers together and they formed an independent company. They made friend of many of the Indians, who held them in high regard. The independent trappers did well and bought pelts from the Indians.

The free trapper rendezvous was started by this independent group. There had been rendezvous at various places, now they had one in Wyoming.

History of a town

In the mid-1860’s Laramie was nothing but a tent city located near the Overland Stage Line and the Union Pacific portion of the transcontinental railroad. When the first train came to town on May 10, 1868 stores, house, a school and churches were starting to be built, according to Wikipedia. Like other frontier towns there was a problem with law and order. M.C. Brown, the first mayor resigned after three weeks of turbulence in 1868. He claimed the city was impossible to govern. He had gotten threats from some western gunmen, specifically three half-brothers “Big” Steve Long, Con Moyer and Ace Moyer, according to Wikipedia. Like so much of the “Old West” it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. The aforementioned Long was the first Marshall of Laramie. He and his brothers owned the Bucket of Blood saloon. Long and his brothers were harassing settlers coercing them to sign over their property to the brothers, and killed those who refused. Long pushed them into gunfights and made it somewhat legal. His total kill was 13 dead by October of 1868.

A “Vigilance Committee” was formed in on October 28, 1868 by Albany county sheriff N.K. Boswell who led the committee into the Bucket of Blood and took the three brothers and lynched them. The vigilantes performed some more lynchings and intimidations until there was something they considered law and order. The following year the Wyoming Territory was organized. The first legislature gave equal political right to women of the territory. Five Women in the territory were the first women in the world to serve on a jury. Laramie was the first town in the territory to have municipal elections and on the sixth day of September 1870 it was a Laramie resident who had the honor of being the first woman to cast a legal vote in the United States.

The City of Laramie Wyoming was named for a mountain man, settled by the transcontinental railroad, suffered a period of Wild West lawlessness, was tamed by vigilantes and has developed into a pleasant recreational and retirement place with river, mountains and other features of beauty.

University of Wyoming

Laramie is also the home of the University of Wyoming which was established in 1886 just shortly before Wyoming became a state. The University is located on the High Laramie Plains (elevation 7,200 ft) which is between the Laramie and Snow Range Mountains.

Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund

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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Glad you liked it.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thanks again for your nice piece on our old hometown of Laramie!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Glad you liked the hub. Wyoming is a more progressive state than people realize.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Love reading your Hub, Laramie has more to see than I thought. I liked your video. Never knew that about the first women to vote.

    • profile image

      Johnk49 3 years ago

      Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that Thanks for lunch! kekgcekdbebe

    • profile image

      Johna514 3 years ago

      As soon as I detected this site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them. gecegeadffae

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy,

      I had known that Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote. Until I researched Laramie, I didn't know that this town played such a part in it. Thanks for the votes and sharing.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      midget, I'm glad you found the history of how Laramie was named and developed. Almost every town has some sort of story or history connected to their names. oddly, Laramie took a bit more digging to find anything about the man it was named for. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      What an interesting hub! I had no idea that women in that town of Laramie, Wyoming cast the first votes and were the first to serve on a jury. The video was also interesting. Nice work! Up votes and will share.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for the wonderful history of this town! Great to see how it was nurtured and developed. Thanks for the write. Sharing!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Frog Prince, thank you for commenting.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Rich in rodeo history and a beautiful area of this great nation.

      Nice write friend.

      The Frog

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      drbj, Thanks for reading and commenting. If I were into conspiracy theories I might think that one of the big corporation fur companies or their unions might have done him in.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Interesting history of a rough trapping town that became a beautiful place for retirees, Don. Can't help but wonder if LaRamie decided to stay in the mountains after a lifetime of trapping? Or maybe he met a nice Arapaho girl? Just wonderin'.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      looks good.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      juneaukid, I did add a word about the University. Not sure if it meets your expectations though. Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for commenting.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      I enjoyed your hub about Laramie but thought a wee word about the university would be helpful under "history of Laramie."


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