Fort McPherson

Fort McPherson was originally called Cantonment McKean, and was popularly known as Fort Cottonwood and “Post Cottonwood”. It was located on the banks of the North Platte River, at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon, a strategic location near the junction of South and North Platte Rivers. Cottonwood Springs, a natural spring in an abandoned bed of the river, was the only spring for many miles along the river and a favored spot used by the plains Indians. The decision to build the fort was following the Dakota War of 1862. It was an outpost to protect travelers along the Oregon and California Trails, between Fort Kearny and Colorado and to keep the peace with the local Native Americans. The fort was built by troops of the 7th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Cavalry using cedar logs cut in Cottonwood Canyon. It was completed in October 1863. On February 26, 1866 it was renamed Fort McPherson in the honor of Major General James B. McPherson.

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Activities at this Location:

  • Memorial