Ft. Kearny was the first military post built to protect the Oregon Trail emigrants. The fort remained an important wayside throughout the emigration period. Many pioneers purchased food at the fort, and nearly everyone took advantage of the fort's reliable mail service. In late May as many as 2,000 emigrants and 10,000 oxen might pass through in a single day.
Ft. Kearny was not the walled fortification that many pioneers expected. It was instead a collection of ramshackle buildings, most made of sod. The construction was so crude that snakes often slithered through the walls and into the beds of the soldiers stationed there. But the enlisted men were not overly refined anyway.
Emigrant William Kelley:
"A most unsoldierly looking lot they were: unshaven, unshorn, with patched uniforms and a lounging gate. The privates being more particular in their inquiries after whiskey, for which they offered one dollar the half-pint; but we had none to sell them even at that tempting price."