RoadTrip America

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Thornburgh the Dog

JULY 20, 1999—

Marvin the Road Dog would have been honored to touch noses with Thornburgh, but we arrived a century too late. Wyoming's favorite canine passed away in 1888, dead from a mule kick after a decade-long life worthy of a Louis L'Amour novel.

Thornburgh & Friends
A Dog and His Friends:
That's Thornburgh on the floor at the far right, and his best buddy "Buck" Buchanan in the middle (wearing a top hat)

Thornburgh got his name in 1879, when he survived an Indian attack that took the life of Major T.T. Thornburgh. The dog became a sort of "camp follower," winning friends and admirers far and wide as tales of his heroism spread.

He captured a commissary thief and received a stab wound in the process. He warned soldiers of an attack in time to save themselves and keep their horses and mules from stampeding. He saved a young boy from drowning, and he saved a man's life by intercepting his attacker's knife-wielding arm.

Thornburgh's Headstone
The marble headstone of
Thornburgh the Dog,

Thornburgh had many fans and benefactors, but it wasn't until "Buck" Buchanan came to work at Fort Bridger that he found a real human soulmate. They were inseparable until one of Buck's mules delivered the blow that ended Thornburgh's life on September 27, 1888. A grief-stricken Buck had an elaborately carved marble headstone inscribed with this

According to the ranger at Fort Bridger, Thornburgh is the only dog ever to have received a military funeral. Buck Buchanan, on the other hand, is believed to lie in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Salt Lake City.

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