National Historic Trails Interpretive Center

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center

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Casper, Wyoming

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, a facility dedicated to promoting and preserving the heritage of the pathways to the west, burrows within a dramatic ten-acre sand dune site high above the North Platte River. Here, stories of the westward migration are told, giving visitors a new awareness and appreciation of time, place and character.

Overlooking Casper, the property commands views of major historic trails, important landmarks and inspiring landscape. Site forces helping mold the design include both wind and sun. The sandy soil, extremely susceptible to erosion, requires special care in preserving its fragile net of grasses and cacti. The building pushed into a steep slope, is an extension of the land form and a welcoming gesture to all those who pass below. The center accommodates 100,000 visitors per year with over 1,000 per day during the summer. As people arrive, the Center speaks about the trails – visitors immediately sense that they are participants in a story of adventure and hardship, perseverance and celebration.

The architecture of the Center is a metaphor to help visitors understand the milestones undertaken to achieve the greater ideal; reaching the Platte River, scratching their names on Independence Rock, and transcending South Pass. Visitors leave the Trails Center with certainty that the migration west was accomplished by people with an unswerving faith in the future.

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