Cheyenne to Deadwood - $20

The Cheyenne-Deadwood Trail was built to carry freight and passengers from the busy railroad city of Cheyenne to the upstart gold fields, of the Black Hills, near the growing city of Deadwood. The first coach left Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, in January of 1876, traveled north and east to cross the brand new bridge over the North Platte River at Fort Laramie.
Bridge built 1875
So many people needed, or wanted to make this trip that Luke Voorhees the stage line superintendent needed 600 horses and 30, very nice, Concord coaches to carry passengers north and all the gold, money and newly rich prospectors back south.
 The coaches, named for the city they were made in New Hampshire were the best of their day. But getting them to Cheyenne was a tall order. They were shipped to California, via the trip around South America, and then driven overland to Cheyenne. Concord coaches were described as huge, swinging on leather straps, and drawn by six horses hitched in teams of two. Shorter mail or special runs sometimes used four horses, but the longer runs always used six.

Want to ride? First class tickets, Cheyenne to Deadwood were, $20.00, if you didn’t mind walking up long or steep hills or through sand draws, a third class ticket could be purchased for $10.00.

Fort Laramie - The Army was charged with protecting the stage lines.
The route was divided into 40 mile segments, with major stopping places at those 40 mile intervals. Horses were changed several times during each segment, miles traveled depended on the terrain. Coaches averaged a speed of eight miles an hour, not bad for that day. The coaches traveled night and day, always accompanied by armed guards, including, at one time, Wyatt Earp, riding shotgun. Unlike movie and TV sidekicks riding shotgun beside the driver, these shotguners often rode alongside on horseback.  The line flourished until the railroad built enough connections to make the stage lines obsolete.



Wyoming Top 10

Last week I posted numbers 1-5 of my famous Wyoming people top ten, today numbers 6-10 will complete my list. Like my five of a week ago these are in no particular order, only random.

Edgar Wilson (Bill) Nye (1850-1896) - Founded a Wyoming newspaper with one of the most unusual paper names in all of America, the, Laramie Boomerang. Nye was also a, worldwide know, humorist who traveled widely with both James Whitcomb Riley and Mark Twain. His column was so widely read that the Boomerang was sent to every state in the union and to several foreign countries. Nye wrote several political or historical humor books that sold very well. I have read all that I could of him and his writings over the years and posted quite a few times about him. Mostly forgotten now, too bad.

Chief Washakie (1804/1808-1900) - Shoshone chief who was convinced that peace with the whites would be the only sensible thing to do. So well respected by the American government that he was the last Indian leader to be able to pick the land for his people’s reservation. Famous for keeping peace among the Wyoming tribes by fighting and killing Crow Chief Big Robber at Crowheart Butte Wyoming. The two chiefs fought over tribal hunting grounds instead of letting the tribes fight it out.

Curt Gowdy (1919-2006) – Famous sports announcer and personality, possible best known in later years as the voice of the Boston Red Sox. Gowdy spend decades announcing, football, baseball and several Olympics. But what I remember was his job of host of the long running, American Sportsman. Being an avid outdoorsman I loved this fishing and hunting themed show.

Buffalo Bill Cody (1846-1917) – His life and time spanned the end of the old west but his promotion of the old west let it live on for several more decades. His life story has been well documented, from Pony Express rider, to scout and Indian fighter and Medal of Honor winner and Wild West show promoter. A remarkable man in real-life and in fiction. The wonderful Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming is a must see for everyone that yearns for the good old days.

Chris LeDoux (1948-2005) – Some might wonder about this cowboy singer and his place on my list, but none should. He was a world champion bareback rider and wrote songs about life and cowboys and rodeo. Garth Brooks describes his music as a combination of western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rock ‘n’ roll. LeDoux sold over five million records and was also an accomplished artist working mostly in bronze.

 “Sleeping on the ground and takin’ a bath in the creek. That’s the stuff that really made it worthwhile, anybody can stay in a motel.” (Chris LeDoux)

 Can’t be any more Wyoming-like than that.

James (Jim) Bridger (1804-1881) - The legendary mountain man spent much of his adult life in Wyoming, and some of it not far from where I sit writing at this moment. Here is a man who never learned to read or write but quoted widely from the Bible and Shakespeare. Couldn’t read a real map but drew maps that helped build the Oregon Trail, find South Pass and the lay-out the Trans-Continental Railroad. Wyoming has a fort, a mountain, mountain range, river, plains, buildings and many more things named after this mountain man, affectionately known as old Gabe.

I know what you are thinking, this is six not five. Never was good at math and it was too difficult to list only ten – this may be the only top eleven ever written.

If only I would have written a top 12, I could have listed myself. Neil Waring - “He wrote the most well-known top-11 in Wyoming history, I could have been famous!



Wyoming Buffalo Stampede Storm

Quite a storm we had last evening, nearly three inches of rain with an abundance of lightning and thunder. Reminds me of the old stories of the west and the difficulties associated with trying to heard or drive cattle during these huge spring storms.

Before the cowboy came to the west, buffalo hunters told stories, (often turned to tall tails), of Buffalo stampeding during a spring storm.

Here is what our big spring storm looked like last night.


Wyoming Top 10

Seems to me there is a top ten for everything these days, thanks, David Letterman. I couldn’t resist, had to come up with my very own top 10. And you know what, it was tough? Like bloggers in other states, I found a long list of famous, near famous, want to be famous, and used to be kind of famous people.  I felt it might be appropriate to come up with a list of top ten Wyoming famous people.

Why was it hard? I had to leave off Olympic and world champs like Rulon Gardner, John Godina and Tommy Moe. I also left off all modern day politicians, because they are, well politicians. If they would have been statesmen, or world changers, I might have more impressed, but I have never felt running for office, winning, and then doing the job they were elected to do merited an award, and getting on my list is a huge honor, nearly the ultimate award. I also left off some famous people that are associated with Wyoming but maybe didn’t really live here, or not long enough, people like Owen Wister and Jedidiah Smith. My first list had 51 names and I am sure many people would substitute some of them with the ten that made my short list.

With all that said here is my list, no, I didn’t put myself on it, maybe if it were a top 11, well, probably not.

My, Ten Greatest Ever Wyoming People, or Ten Famous Wyoming People, list follows, and will be published in two blog installments. Today (1-5), the next five coming in my next post. These ten people are listed in no particular order, just my own stream of consciousness order.

My Wyoming Top 10

John B. Kendrick – (1857-1933) – Cowboy/Politician  

Born in Texas came to Wyoming on a trail drive at age 22, found work as a cowboy, became a ranch foreman and later a ranch owner. Later the Sheridan, Wyoming bank president and then headed up the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. Elected as the ninth governor of Wyoming, serving from 1915 until he resigned in 1917 after being elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until his death in 1933. Elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1958

C.J. Box – (b. 1967) Box is a New York Times bestselling author from Cheyenne Wyoming. His feature character is Joe Pickett a Wyoming game warden. Box’s stories ring true to Wyoming in present time. Box was a small town newspaper man in Saratoga, Wyoming before his first novel, Open Season, became a New York Times, Notable Book of 2001. Box has now published more than a dozen novels including 10 Joe Pickett novels. His modern day Wyoming and American west books are among the best of the genre. If you have not read one, give him a try, you will not be disappointed.

Grace Raymond Hebard – (1861-1936) Much is made of the universal man, Miss Hebard is certainly a universal women, people just don’t spend much time talking about universal women. Most of her notoriety is as a Wyoming historian but she was also a noted suffragist, political economist, researcher, University of Wyoming professor and champion of women’s suffrage. And along the way she took time to win a couple of state women’s golf titles. Her most famous work, Sacajawea, is one of the most controversial books in western non-fiction history. Her insistence that Sacajawea lived to a ripe old age and is buried in Wyoming has been disputed, cussed and discussed for years. But she makes a strong argument with much original research.

Nellie Tayloe Ross – (1876-1977) Wyoming’s 14th governor from 1925 to 1927 (one term) need I say more? Later she was the director of the United States Mint from 1933-1953. Mrs. Ross was the first women to be elected governor of a U. S. state. She is also, still, the only women to serve as governor of Wyoming.

Jackson Pollock – (1912-1956) Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming and died in a car accident at 44.  But in those 44 short years he turned the art world upside down. Pollock was the leader of an artistic style referred to as abstract expressionism. His drip and splatter style painting might not be for everyone but they did sell and the style, though lessened in popularity today, is still in use in the world of art.




It's Spring Time In Wyoming

Over the past two years I have blogged several times about one of my all-time favorite western humorists, Bill Nye. Nye started a newspaper in Laramie, Wyoming, a paper with possibly the most unusual name for a paper in America, The Laramie Boomerang. (Named after his mule that no matter how many time he sold it or gave it away it kept coming back).

Am I going to get around to something here? Well, yes. Nye was a humorist who reveled in poking fun at himself and Wyoming. Living in Wyoming the weather is at best unpredictable, went to bed last night as it started to snow, yep, snow in May. Still snowing when I got up this morning and been snowing on and off most of the day.

On June 10, 1880, Bill Nye wrote in his book, Forty Liars and Other Lies, about the weather. “It has snowed a good deal during the week and it is discouraging to the planters of cotton and tobacco very much. I am positive that a much smaller area of both these staples will be planted in Wyoming this year than ever before. Unless the yield this fall of moss agates and prickly pears should be unusually large the agricultural export will be very far below preceding years, and there may be actual suffering.”

I feel about like that today looking out at my garden covered in snow and dreaming of sometime actually planting on a warm sunshiny day. Nye, later in the article went on to say, “Again the early frosts make close connections with the late spring blizzards, so that there is only time for a hurried lunch between.”

Warm weather and summer will come, I am just not sure when. So why would an old gardener like me live in a tough to grow state like Wyoming? Well, as real-estate agents are happy to point out, “its location, location, location.
And the view ---
View of our little town from Powell Mountain, 5 miles away
Looking north (away from town) from Powell Mt. Guernsey State Park
 We love our view.
Elk at sundown last evening in Sybille Canyon




My Wyoming in Photos

A few of my favorite photos over the last two months. All taken within a few minutes of home.

Bison In Mountain Pasture
North Platte River near the Oregon Trail
Taking Flight
Vultures Calling it a Day
They Don't Build Them Like This Anymore
Guernsey Lake from the top of Roundtop Mountain

Stark Windmill on the Laramie Plains


Tensleep Wyoming

Tensleep Wyoming is one of my favorite Wyoming places. Not only does it have a great name but it sits in an amazing location in a Big Horn Mountain valley. 
Tensleep Canyon
So -  how did it get its name? According to a  prominent sign in downtown Tensleep, not sure it is there anymore, it was ten sleeps to Bridger Montana on Clarks Fork and ten sleeps to Casper Wyoming site of the old Sioux camp on the North Platte. (Indians of the time called it the Shell River).

Sleeps according to Indian time represented a day. A day when you sleep at the end. Ten days travel = ten sleeps

But now when I Google it, the answer I get is that Tensleep was ten sleeps to Fort Laramie and ten sleeps to Yellowstone. These two, very different, destinations are likely taken from a popular book by Mae Urbanek, Wyoming Place Names, published 1974. She was a through researcher and well know historian, not sure if she was correct, or the old time Tensleep sign. Something to think about on a rainy day.

So how far is ten sleeps today?

·        Casper 99 miles

·        Yellowstone 158 miles

·        Bridger Montana 113 miles

·        Fort Laramie WY 194 miles

All distances are as the crow flies measured from Beautiful Tensleep Wyoming.
Downtown Tensleep