Me and Bill Nye

Bill Nye, as frequent readers of this blog know, is one of my all-time favorite Wyomingites. His columns, written over one hundred years ago still make me smile. On June 1, 1877 his column topic was a recent Laramie jail break. Never one to miss a chance at humor, he picked on not the jail breakers but the people that were worried that something might happen to them because of the jail break. The old, they might come to my house idea. Below are excerpts from his column.

“Different rumors pervaded the town last evening between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10. Some had understood that the jailor had been struck in the cerebellum, others that he was struck in the act of locking the iron gate. It was earnestly reported at one time that the court house had been surrounded by a large Russian force, and that some were rushin’ in and others rushin’ out.”

“He ends the column as only Bill Nye could. “Two hundred and eleven women looked under two hundred and eleven beds before retiring, and the man of the house put his trusty Smith and Wesson under his pillow where it wouldn’t be stolen. During the still hours of the night he would feel that he must shoot somebody, and as a slight noise greeted his ear he would creep to the door and shoot a hole in the rain-water barrel.”

I have twice used a photo of Edgar Wilson, ‘Bill,’ Nye, so thought you might enjoy a Wyoming sunset – I took this photo about seven this evening.

Wagon's West - The Years

The first wagon train to the west coast passed through Fort Laramie in 1841. When I taught Wyoming History I was often asked, “What years did people travel on the Oregon Trail”? Well, there’s the answer, or at least part of it, the Oregon Trail was first traveled in 1841.
Trail Ruts Near Guernsey Wyoming, 13 miles West of the Fort

On the Grounds of Fort Laramie today
        This first train west, was organized and captained by adventurer John Bartleson who set the entire trip up with no real knowledge of the west and certainly not enough knowhow to lead a large group of people overland to California.

Even Today Mountain Men Can Be Found Camping at the Fort
So how did he do it? Easy, he tagged on with a group of Jesuit missionaries heading west. The difference was that the missionaries knew they needed a guide, and they hired one, a good one. Thomas “Broken Hand,” Fitzpatrick led the group of missionaries and Bartleson’s wagon train into Idaho where his duties to the Jesuit’s ended. From that point on the train traveled with the advice and hand drawn maps of ‘Broken Hand’ and with a lot of luck, some of it bad, made it to the coast.

It should be noted that parts of the trail were traveled as early as 1836 and trappers started laying out this route as early as 1810 or 11.

Nearly forgot, when did travel on the trails west end? Most historians agree around 1869. Who needed a wagon, by then they had a railroad?


No Place Like This Place

"There is no place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place." That was according to Wyoming deep thinker of yesteryear, Sagebrush Sam.

What was he talking about?  Maybe it's this Mule Deer Doe I caught up with a bit after dusk this evening.
Can you see the second deer?

Or maybe it's this view toward our little town from three miles away complete with a muted rainbow over the mountains.

But then again we have great sunsets nearly every evening.

If none of those were what ol' Sagebrush was talking about, possibly, just possibly he was talking about - Home Sweet Home.