A few pioneers had settled in the Laramie area prior to Fort Sanders’ founding, but with the new protection of the fort, that number grew quickly. Some ranches were established in the area, and aside from the civilians housed at Fort Sanders itself, a collection of tents and shacks formed along the Elizabeth Creek (now Spring Creek) approximately 2 miles north of Fort Sanders. This was also very close to the ferry for the immigrant trail. These townspeople served the travelers, as well as the soldiers at the Fort in a variety of ways. Dominating the camp was the Sunnyside Resort, a log-built bawdy establishment catering to thirsty soldiers, weary travelers, and men seeking companionship.
In October 1867, the town of Laramie was platted by the surveyors for the railroad. Many of the inhabitants of the creek encampment moved quickly to the platted land and set up squatter’s structures. Land would not officially go on sale until April 1868. There were a variety of tents, log-slab shacks, upended railroad ties and lodgepoles set into the ground and draped with canvas.
Early businesses from the creek were established in town, such as Henry Wagner’s Dry Goods Store. The first hotel to be built was the Shamrock, a long log cabin owned by Patrick Doran. Doran had walked westward from Pine Bluffs with a group of friends (M.H. Murphy, John and Lawrence Fee and John Connors). The group found work in the tie-camps in the mountains, as well as carrying chain for the surveyors platting the city.