Tag Archives: Togwotee Pass

Sacajawea’s Grave Site In Fort Washakie, Wyoming…

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sacajawea_02_smWho has not heard about the great adventure story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition?  Early from 1804 – 1806, Sacajawea was an integral part of this expedition that led Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their exploration of the American West looking for a path to the Pacific Ocean.  Sacajawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau played an important role in the success of this expedition – an expedition that led them right through this part of the country – the great Yellowstone basin.  But this post is not about their story.  It is the story of the resting place of Sacajawea – a once young Shoshone Indian girl who helped change history forever.  A place that can be found just a few miles Southeast from Jackson Hole.

Although Sacajawea was reported to have died in 1812 she actually lived to be a very old women as told by Shoshone oral traditions.  Long after the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Sacajawea eventually made her way west back to the Shoshone tribes and lived out her life in the area that is now Fort Washakie, Wyoming.  Anyone who has traveled to or from Lander, Wyoming has gone right through Fort Washakie which is one of two main cities on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Sacajawea Cemetary
Sacajawea Cemetery

Fort Washakie was originally a U.S Army fort in what is now the state of Wyoming. The fort was established in 1869 and was originally named Camp Augur after General Christopher C. Augur, commander of the Department of Platte In 1870 the camp was renamed Camp Brown in honor of Captain Frederick H. Brown who was killed in the Fetterman Massacre in 1866.  81 men under his command were killed by Lakota Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors during what was known as Red Cloud’s War on the white man.  It was renamed again in 1878 after Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe making the fort the only U.S military outpost named after a Native American. The fort remained a military outpost until 1909 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the Shoshone Indian Agency.

Casualty of War July, 1873
Casualty of War July, 1873

The graves of Chief Washakie and the Lewis and Clark Expedition guide Sacajawea are located on the grounds of the fort. This burial site lies within the present-day Wind River Indian Reservation.  Our family has become very familiar with Fort Washakie as we travel through there several times a year to visit our daughter in Boulder Colorado.  As you pass through the main intersection of Fort Washakie  there is a small road sign that says “Sacajawea’s Grave Site”.  We had passed this sign many times over many years but had never taken the time to stop and visit this very special place.  This last trip it was different – we made the time to visit the resting place of this very important person in American History.

Looking to the Southeast
Looking to the Southeast

Fort Washakie is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Jackson Hole.  A beautiful drive that takes you over Togwotee Pass, through the town of Dubois and across the Wind River Reservation.  Just short of Lander Wyoming is Fort Washakie.  I need to tell you that please do not expect something on the grandeur of the National Park Monuments we are all used to.  Fort Washakie is a humble place that belongs now to the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes.  The poverty you will experience on this majestic reservation is shocking and to be truthful something for all to be ashamed about.

Peyton, Brock, Brynn and I have visited several Powwows on this reservation and I can truthfully say these were some of the best days we have had in Wyoming.  The Shoshone people are very inviting and I suggest that anyone who is in the area think about visiting one of their Powwows if you can.  On this day though we stopped and made our way west of the main intersection, past the Powwow Grounds and along the west side of the Wind River (actual river) for several miles until we came to a very small, unassuming sign that simply says “Sacajawea Cemetery”.  As you enter this very humble place two things stand out.  No trees or shrubs landscape this place and the close proximity of each grave.  Some graves date back to the mid 1800’s and all the way to the present.

I have to tell you that if you are a lover of history you need to visit this place.  To stand at the foot of Sacajawea’s gravesite, her son Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau and her sisters son Bazil is quite an experience.  This place, this humble grave site, this troubled reservation of the Shoshone people gives one a reason to pause and think… think about those who help lay the path before us, a path that had led to this day that my family stood at the foot of what was once a young Shoshone Indian woman who made an everlasting contribution to our American History.

Sacajawea, Baptiste Charbonneuay & Bazil’s Gravesite

Riding Somewhere South of Heaven – Jackson to Boulder Colorado…

Sorry No Pics on this trip as I forgot my camera

Once again it’s time for a post that has nothing to do with insurance and EVERYTHING to do with quality of life, peace of mind, a calming vibe – just a really nice morning! For those of you parents that have children in college, this is also the time of year when they are finishing their finals and getting ready to come home for the summer. For us this week was our time. Our daughter finished out the week and her sophomore year at CU Boulder.

Now for those of you who don’t look at maps, Boulder Colorado sits almost exactly 500 miles south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming only on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. This post is just a snippet of my trip and it takes you from my home in Jackson Hole over the Absaroka Mountain range up to the point I reached Dubois, Wyoming.

I left on Thursday morning a bit later than I normally do. I was so excited to get my little (19-year-old) girl and bring her home for the summer. Not so sure she was as excited as I but I would like to think so. From Jackson Hole to Dubois is about 90 miles or just under two hours of casual driving. I grabbed my morning coffee and I headed out-of-town.

Now for those of us that live in this valley we have basically two options for this drive. You can travel south out of Jackson down through Bondurant, Pinedale and ending up on Hwy 80 in Rock Springs or you can head North for a short distance and pop over the mountain range which takes you through Dubois, across the Wind River Reservation and then Lander and beyond. I chose to go North this morning.

It was about 9:15 am when I left and as I left town I drove past the National Elk Refuge, past the Grand Tetons on my way to Moran Junction (Gateway to Yellowstone Park). From Moran Junction you head directly east over what is called Togwotee Pass (pronounced toe-go-tee) which was named after a subchief under Chief Washakie of the Sheepeater tribe, a branch of the Shoshone Indians. Togwotee lead a U.S. government exploratory expedition over this pass in 1873 – but that is another story.

Before I reached Moran Junction which is about 35 miles north of town I saw many different animals. I saw large numbers of elk that were starting to move slightly north as the snow packs in the valley are finally starting to diminish. I saw 6 moose, many deer, buffalo, fox, and 4 or 5 eagles watching over me as I traveled. Just short of Moran Junction a lone wolf jumped right in front of my vehicle and looked at me as though I was out of line or something. This was a real treat as we see quite a few large coyotes here and many fox but to see a real wolf in the wild is soo cool. So I pulled over and stopped and watched him disappear into the distance.

Moran Junction is simply a beautiful area because you have the Snake River right next to the road and the Buffalo Fork river which is one of Wyoming’s finest locations for fishing, and clear waters that drain the Teton Wilderness. Over 80% of the Buffalo Fork river is in a wilderness setting, and is the highest drainage in the Jackson Hole area and drains much of the area around Togwotee Pass.

As I headed up the pass I realized that I had the road just about to myself. As I climbed the snow pack continued to deepen and in places was still over 10+ feet deep. There was an eerie calm this morning and the sun was out and it was simply beautiful. I pulled over towards the top of the divide and got out for a few minutes to simply take in the unbelievable vistas. I was looking to the northeast at huge cliffs that line the drive. The drive from Moran Junction to Dubois is simply 56 mile of heaven or in this case Just South of Heaven. In the summer this stretch of road would be a motorcyclist dream. In the winter this area is one of the best areas in the world for snowmobiles.

Once you cross over the Continental Divide you make your way down into the small town of Dubois, Wyoming. A charming little town with great Wyoming character. Almost the whole part of this trip you will travel along rivers and streams which bring great opportunities for wildlife. Be careful though if you travel this in the summer as this is bear habitat and Grizzlies are spotted all the time in this area. One of the things you will pass as you come into Dubois is the turn off for Union Pass (Google it). Union pass has tremedous history for those of you who are interested. I plan to take a trip this summer over Union Pass and I will post this day sometime later this summer.

At risk of blogging too much and boring you I will stop here. But I need to tell you that there are times and places that you will find in your life where I believe God speaks to your heart. 90 miles from Jackson Hole to Dubois on your way to Boulder Colorado may be just the time and place for you as it was for me this morning. Seek this stretch of road and I challenge you not to be inspired. This truly is a road worth traveling that in my eyes is just south of heaven!