Might be a Wintery Thanksgiving in Wyoming

Nice snow during the night makes it look more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. Weatherman says it will be 60s by Friday. Hope he is correct as I am not yet ready for winter.
Oh, but I am ready for some football, and Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend always offer plenty.
Took a few photos this morning of our, "Thanksgiving snow, 2014."

North Platte River near the Oregon Trail

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Not Sure but did this train bring in the winter? Actually I enjoy the contrast of the starkness of winter and the bright train color
Winter comes to a North Platte River Canyon



By the middle of the 1700s the great herds of bison that roamed America were estimated to be at least 60 million, and possibly as many as 100 million. But in less than a century that number was reduced to a few hundred. Many causes can be found as to why the buffalo were nearly wiped out. Certainly, drought had much to do with it, and the hide hunters, and (sport?) hunters killed hundreds of thousands. But did you know?
Buffalo on the Spit

For more than a century Wyoming bison were killed by the tribes for many and in some cases most of their needs. When the mountain men/trappers brought European trade goods everything changed.  Indians started hunting buffalo as an economic benefit for themselves and their tribes. For the first time they began killing bison for their hides and tongues which they then exchanged for trade goods. By the 1840s, the number of hides prepared for trade was far more than could ever be used by the tribes.

 One estimate guesses that Native Indians were using/eating only four out of every 100 bison they were killing as more and more American and European trade goods reached the tribes. In 1839, the American Fur Company bought 45,000 buffalo robes and in 1840, 67,000 more. All of this was before the coming of the famous buffalo hunters of the plains that slaughtered the buffalo by the tens of thousands.

Thanks to a few forward looking people, starting in 1881, today there are nearly 400,000 bison, once again, in North American.



They weigh around a ton
Stand 6 feet tall at the hump 
From nose to tail are about 11 feet long
They can run for short distances as fast as 35 Mph
Reach mature full size at about 7 years of age
Can live 30 years or more

Skinning Mules and Whacking Bulls

So easy for us today to go to the store and buy just about anything we want. A drive on any interstate will allow you to quickly see how all those goods get there every day. Trucks and trains and in some cases planes move our goods today, making sure I can grab a fresh pineapple on a cold snowy November day in Wyoming. But how did they do it in the old days, the really old days?  Mule Skinners and Bull Whackers moved the goods.

From about 1825, freighters started moving goods to outlying settlements and forts. When the 1860s came, with the transcontinental railroad, the freighting business became one of the busiest in the west. Freighters moved goods from and too the railroad, supplying goods needed for expansion and settlement of the new west.

Freighters, for protection and because of the amount of goods needed, traveled in huge slow moving overland trains. These trains consisted of two dozen or more wagons, each carrying as much as three tons of goods. The wagons were pulled by huge teams of six pair of oxen or several pair of mules, depending on the weight of the freight.   Not fast but most efficient.
Train Stopped for the Day

Mule Drivers were known as mule-skinners and the oxen drivers as bull-whackers, all using their bull whips most efficiently to nip black flies away from the oxen and mules. This slow but efficient way to move goods allowed the new citizens of the west to buy the same coffee, canned peaches and yards of calico that were offered on the two coasts. It lasted into the 1900s until motor trucks and better roads allowed for the bull-whackers and mule-skinners to die off in favor of truck drivers.

Wyoming Winter

With winter coming to Wyoming, finally, weather app says we will be below zero by the middle of the week. All this after having one of the longest and best falls in many Wyoming years.
Back Yard this Morning
Saturday afternoon I watched a high school football game in shirtsleeves and the golf course is still green and playable.
I thought I might reflect a bit on winters past and how the original and early settlers made it through the tough, and often starving times.

        Early inhabits were wanderers and found campsites with terrific southern exposer for winter. Some parts of Wyoming are warmer than others, some much warmer. Where I live our deck with southern and eastern exposer warms quickly on most days throughout the winter. Many mornings with a 20s reading on the thermometer I sit and read most comfortably on the deck. That was the key, sunny exposer and a site that block the north and west winds.

Shelters, teepees or lean-tos were erected close to north walls, with a hide covered dirt floor and a most efficient fire pit in the middle. Hides were drawn down tight in the winter and often sealed with dirt from the teepee floor.  

Still not our natural gas or electric furnaces of today but they made it through, somehow. The key to winter in 1800s was preparation, storing away food, lots of blankets and robes and a place with sunshine and water.

Tiny Waterfall May be Ice in a Few Days
As for me I think I like the idea of a warm house and plenty of food for the winter. People of the olden days were much tougher than me.





A New, The Virginian

 Noticed a new, “The Virginian,” is out, this one with country music star Trace Adkins playing the lead role. This follows the, made for TV, Bill Pullman version a few years ago. I know of four other versions of this classic western tail.

Dustin Furman in the first version in 1914

Kenneth Harlan – 1923

Garry Cooper – 1929

Joel McCrea – 1946

There were also two television series based on the Owen Wister novel of cowboying in early Wyoming. The first with James Drury ran for many episodes over eight years in the sixties. The second only made it for a year, 1970, with Stuart Granger as the lead.