Fort Laramie National Historic Site, USA

Crossroads of the American West

By CyArk


Photograph along the parade ground of Fort LaramieCyArk

Expedition Overview

In 2009, Wyoming’s Fort Laramie was the subject of a digital preservation pilot project between the National Park Service, CyArk, and the University of Colorado, Denver. The documentation of Fort Laramie focused on the four remaining buildings of Officer’s Row (Old Bedlam, Post Trader’s Complex, Post Surgeon’s Quarters, Lt. Colonel’s Quarters), the adjacent Parade Ground, and the ruins of the Post Hospital. The team used laser scanners and photography to capture the interior and exterior of the buildings as well as the surrounding grounds for context. The project produced highly accurate 3D data to aid in the ongoing conservation and restoration work of the fort. Additional 3D reconstructions, animations, and other multimedia were generated to supplement existing educational and interpretive media.

Fort Laramie mattresses and gun racks in the cavalry barracks squad roomCyArk

Introducing Fort Laramie

Although small, measuring 100 by 80 feet, the construction of the site’s first building in 1834 marked the beginning of a major transformation in the American west. What would later become Fort Laramie, began as a trading post where its owners primarily traded buffalo robes with local American Indian communities, particularly the Lakota. Throughout the mid to late 1800s, the site changed alongside the decline of the buffalo population, the intensive westward movement of emigrant populations, and the US government’s militaristic acquisition of American Indian lands. Fort Laramie became one of the most consequential military posts on the northern plains, playing a significant and controversial role in American Indian relations. As the 19th century came to a close along with Western expansion, the role of the fort diminished. The buildings on the site today reflect a significant turning point in shaping the American landscape today.

Post Surgeon’s Quarters (1875) Post Surgeon Louis Brechemin and his family
normally lived in half of this duplex from
1885 to 1889. His study held his scientific
collections, and most patients were treated
there before being sent to the hospital to

Lt. Colonel’s Quarters (Burt House, 1884)
Lt. Col. Andrew Burt, a 7th US
Infantry officer, and his wife Elizabeth lived
in the home 1887–88. They liked relatively
plain furnishings rather than the ornate
decor used in most officers’ houses during
the Victorian period.

Fort Laramie Old Bedlam Before AfterCyArk

The Historic American Building Survey Program

In 1938, Franklin Roosevelt declared Fort Laramie a National Monument and placed it under the protective stewardship of the National Park Service. As part of the effort to restore the site, the National Park Service documented the conditions of the extant buildings under the Historic American Building Survey Program (HABS). Designated a National Historic Site in 1960, Fort Laramie has undergone much restoration. Currently, there are eleven restored and refurbished structures mostly revived from the 1873 to 1890 Army Period. The ongoing restoration effort relies on the documentation from HABS and new documentation technologies to further preserve one of America’s most important historic sites.

Fort Laramie Burt House Before and AfterCyArk

Post Trader’s Store (1849)

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of the following partners:

U.S. National Park Service

CU Denver

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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