Mae Urbanek - A Wyoming Writer


Green of the pine, grey of the sage,

Mixed with the rocks crumbling with age;

Guarded by mountains touching the sky,

Blessed with a grandeur none can deny.
Mae Urbanek

Mae Urbanek will never be forgotten, at least in Wyoming she will not. Why? Her wonderfully researched book, Wyoming Place Names, has been continuously in print since its first edition in 1967. Few books can still be found in stores a half century after publication. I am in awe of someone who could do the amount of research needed to write this book, and before the internet.

Because of this book I know that, Bill, Wyoming was named after four ranchers, all named Bill, whose corners met here. Wyoming writer C.J. Box could have found the inspiration for his fictional town of Saddle String, Wyoming thanks to Mae Urbanek and her research of this tiny Johnson County abandoned post office. A saddle string, by the way, is what cowboys used to tie extra bundles and mail behind their saddles.

 Mrs. Urbanek was not only a writer of nonfiction but a poet and a writer that dabbled in some fiction over the years. Her fiction book, The Second Man, of which I proudly own a copy, is a wonderful read that just never got enough circulation to be a best seller. Maybe this book was before its time.  

She published other books, now out of print, and nearly impossible to find, too bad, I have read as much of her stuff as I could find, she was a gifted writer and researcher. Too bad someone can’t bring back all of her work for modern readers to enjoy.

She lived a wonderful and long life, passing in 1995, a few months before her 92nd birthday.


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