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Posthumous Profile – Thornburgh The Dog

by Jennifer Jones
Posthumous Profile - Thornburgh the Dog

This week’s Posthumous Profile is slightly unusual in that it is the grave of Thornburgh the dog.  The story about how this grave came to be is pretty unique.

What from a distance looks like a typical child’s grave from the late 1800’s with a lamb on the headstone is, in fact, a reclining dog. The epitaph reads:


Died Sept 27, 1888

Man never had a better, truer, braver friend.

Sleep on, old fellow, we’ll meet across the range.

Posthumous Profile - Thornburgh the Dog

Fort Bridger, Wyoming

Thornburgh is buried at Ft. Bridger, Wyoming which is an interesting place to visit if you enjoy history. While originally a trading fort, the U.S. Army took control of Ft. Bridger in 1858 until it closed in 1890. In 1933, the site was named a historic landmark and museum and a lot of the original buildings have been restored. Fort Bridger is also said to be haunted. I have investigated there myself twice, and walked away with a few decent EVPs.

The last time Matt and I were there we were being very closely watched by a giant Moose who was not too happy with us walking down the path. Needless to say, we tread very carefully and decided to check out the museum indoors. On our way out we stopped by the grave so that I could take a quick picture.

The Story of Thornburgh the Dog

Thornburgh was found as a puppy after a skirmish in 1879 during which most of the men were killed. He was brought back to Ft. Bridger and soon garnered a reputation for being a pretty good dog. Reports of Thornburgh alerting the soldiers to people sneaking about the fort became common. He is also said to have interfered in an attempted murder when he latched onto the arm of a man who pulled a knife during a faro game at the fort.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, he is said to have caught a thief red-handed. Apparently one night during a storm someone had broken into the commissary and was attempting to leave with a sack full of goods. Thornburgh spotted him and ripped into him, stopping him long enough for the guards to apprehend the thief.

Needless to say, after that night Thornburgh was regarded as a hero by the men stationed at Ft. Bridger.

And if the accounts of Thornburgh’s actions are true, he really was a sort of hero. He reportedly saved the life of a young boy who had fallen into a briskly flowing creek. After the boy was pulled from the creek unharmed, his parents were so grateful that they had a collar made for him with a silver nameplate on the front. The nameplate read: Thornburgh – For Most Distinguished Gallantry.

Kicked By A Mule

Towards the end of his life, Thornburgh had it pretty easy around the fort. He slept in the stables and was fed by the company kitchen. He would help bring the mules in for the evening and it was during one of these jobs that he met his death.  On September 27th, 1888 Thornburgh was kicked in the side by a mule and died almost instantly.

Posthumous Profile - Thornburgh the Dog

The Salt Lake Tribune, Sun, May 21, 1950

In the years that Ft. Bridger sat abandoned, it appears that someone tried to keep Thornburgh’s grave well tended, a testament to a much-loved dog.


Have you come upon any interesting graves for pets? I’d love to hear from you, comment below!

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Pam C October 24, 2017 - 3:00 pm

In the 1980s I worked at a small rural hospital in Fairplay, Co., a mining town in the mountains of South Park. There is a large memorial to a burro named Prunes and he is also buried beneath it. It is located on Front Street and if you Google it you will find photos and his interesting history. It’s one of the coolest animal graves I have ever seen. Thornburghs is a good one and thanks for sharing it!

Jennifer Jones October 24, 2017 - 3:04 pm

Oh, thanks for the info! I’ve been told of quite a few places in Colorado that we need to check out. I’ll add Prunes to the list 🙂 Maybe next summer!


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