Cheyenne Depot - Camp Carlin
The second of the original military facilities to be located in Cheyenne was officially established in August 1867 and was named Cheyenne Depot; however, it later took the name of its first Quartermaster Commander, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Elias B. Carling, and was also known as Camp Carling. Because of a misspelling of his name it eventually became known simply as Camp Carlin. Initially established as a quartermaster depot, in reality it was five deposit under separate departments: 1) Quartermaster Department, 2) Indian Department, 3) Commissary Department, 4) Subsistence Department, and 5) Ordnance Department. (Quartermaster - military equipment; Indian Treaty supplies and trade goods; Commissary - government food-related items; Subsistence - all non-military food (including tobacco, alcohol, and non-military cooking equipment) and supplies needed to live (furniture, blankets and bedding.); and Ordnance - munitions of all kinds)
The Cheyenne Depot was a major strategic facility for the Army in its campaigns to protect settlers from attacks by Indians during the 1870's and 1880's. During this period it was the second largest depot in the United States, staffed with 1,000 to 1,200 civilians and perhaps 100 military personnel. Included were freighters (bull whackers, mule skinners, teamsters, and packers), blacksmiths, tinsmiths, armorers, carpenters, farriers, saddlers, harness makers, liverymen, wheelwrights, painters, plumbers, mechanics, telegraph operators, superintendents and general laborers.
The primary mission of the Depot was to supply 12 other military posts located within 400 miles (all of what could become Wyoming, most of Colorado, and parts of Nebraska, Utah, Idaho, and Montana). Within this same area, the Depot was also responsible for providing "annuity goods" (flour, beans, rice, bacon, salt pork, baking powder, calico for dresses, cloth for shirts, bales of blankets, tobacco and tread)
to various Indian tribes based on their treaties. Some of the treaties called for more than $50,000 in goods delivered to the tribes each year. By 1885 most of the Forts were no longer needed because many of the Indian Tribes has been moved to Reservations in Montana, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas where there were other sources of supply.
The Union Pacific Railroad ran a two-mile spur from their main line to the Depot, delivering equipment and supplies from the east and west coasts. From the Depot these were transported over land via wagon and mule trains. At first only mules were used until roads and bridges could be built to support heavy wagons. One such road, the Twin Mountain Wagon Route, passes through what is now the Belvoir Ranch just west of the City. It ran from the Depot west through the middle of the ranch, turned south towards the Twin Mountains, headed on west into the Laramie Valley, entering Fort Sanders near Laramie. The mule trains contained upwards of 500 mules with each mule carrying from 200 to 300 pounds. Wagon trains were made up of 30 to 40 wagon teams with each team of 12 to 14 yoke of oxen pulling three wagons. The front wagon would hold upward of 15,000 pounds, the second 9,000 pounds and the third wagon would contain the cooking utensils, tents and food required by the drivers and escorts for the trip.
At its peak Camp Carlin had 16 warehouses, 100 wagons, five pack trains, and 1,000-2,500 mules. The Camp remained in operation until 1890 when it was decommissioned and most of its buildings torn down. Several remained in the early 1900s but by 1909 all were gone. Today, nothing remains of the Cheyenne Depot. A historical marker for the camp is located on the north side of Happy Jack Road just west of the Missile Drive ad I-25 interchange.