The Legend of the Bouncing Buffalo

The Legend of the Bouncing Buffalo

Long before the bow and arrow native peoples were hunting bison for food. After the bow and arrow were perfected and commonly used for hunting, nature and the lay of the land were still important for big annual hunts, hunts needed to feed the people through long hard winters.

One of the most interesting legends of the hunt is set in and around what today is the tiny village, (212 population in 2010 census) of Chugwater, Wyoming.
Chugwater today

~The Legend~

Long ago, long before the coming of the white man, the valley of the cliffs, (Chugwater Valley), was the home of a powerful Mandan chief. One day he was gored and trampled by a bull buffalo. He survived but would not be able to hunt again that season. He ordered his son, the Dreamer, to lead the next hunt.

The son, in one of his dreaming states at the time, only grunted at the request and continued to dream. The old chief, disgusted with his son, went through the tribe hoping to find a worthy son, a son he could adopt and one that would lead the hunt. But the Dreamer had been listening when his father spoke. The Dreamer had heard his father’s request and called for a council of hunters where he told them of his new plan, a plan that came to him in a dream. He told them to cut the nearby herd and stampede as many as they could toward the bluffs and run them off. The plan worked and when the buffalo tumbled off the cliffs their bodies struck the boulders and rocks below with a chugging sound, such as chug, chug, chug.

From that time on Native Indians and the soon to come white man called the nearby stream, “The water at the place where the buffalo chug.” The name was later shortened to Chugwater.

Not part of the story but an interesting side note is that Francis Parkman in his famous work, The Oregon Trail, camped and spent time with the Sioux at Chugwater Creek and describes it in his book.


Seems like I never get tired of watching the many North American Pronghorn around the state. Doesn't matter if they are standing or running. Few people realize that pronghorn, like the bison, once numbered in the millions in the American west. Also like the bison they were shot to near extinction for meat and skins. Pronghorn are a curious animal and hunters could often shoot dozens or more in a day. At one point in the late 1800s so much meat was for sale that one could purchase an entire carcass for a few pennies.

Not sure how many pronghorn there are today in Wyoming but the number is often reported as more than the number of people here in the cowboy state. Wyoming’s people population is a bit over half a million, so that is a pretty good number of pronghorn, but is likely high by about 200,000 or so. Still a good number and if you are watching, pronghorn can be seen just about anywhere in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department does an outstanding job of managing the population, allowing hunting to keep pronghorn numbers constant.

Thinking about taking a drive-about sometime tomorrow, watch a few North American Pronghorn, or as most westerners call them, antelope.

It Was Once Summer

Seems like June and July were not so long ago. But it was more than half a year. Guess that means we are getting closer to summer. After this latest snow and cold snap, I am ready. These photos are a look back to a few hours we spent on a fantastic evening June 28, 2014 in Guernsey State Park.

June Wildflowers

Snapped as we headed home

Evening Light Plays With Color Below Echo Cave

Setting Sun Turns the Lake Golden

How Long Ago, Who ?

The Talking Wire Changes the West

The Talking Wire

- .... .- -. -.- ... / ..-. --- .-. / .-. . .- -.. .. -. --. --..-- / .... .- ...- . / .- / --. .-. . .- - / -.. .- -.-- .-.-.-  

Hint – The above is a Morse Code Message – can you read it?

New technology made distances shorter. The telegraph made communication instantaneous. Before it, the pony express took many days to pass on the same information.

 The United States Government offered a subsidy of $40,000 a year for up to ten years to build a transcontinental telegraph line. This line would connect the populated east with the populated west by crossing the Great Plains and parts of Americas, Mountain West. The new line was built from Omaha in the east to Carson City and Salt Lake City in the west.

Edward Creighton finished it in 1861, mostly following the Oregon Trail. Many of the stations set up as Pony Express stops became the new Telegraph stations of the west.

Old Telephone Pole, Don't See Many of These Anymore

Did it change the west? The Pony Express went out of business two days after the first messages were sent along the new line. It lasted until 1869, when it was replaced by a new multi-line telegraph that followed the tracks of the Transcontinental Railroad, it lasted up to the time of the telephone,

The Message at the top - Thanks for reading, have a great day.

I was unable to find any historical documentation that proved the Indians called the telegraph the, “talking wires,” may be a Hollywood thing but I always enjoyed that story.

Did you know there is a Morse Code Translator online? Try it, great fun.  

These Guys Were Tough on Early Telegraph Poles


False Fronts in the Old West

I have long enjoyed the look of old west false front buildings. Not many left any more.
False fronts were used on business buildings to give a more dignified look and a more permanent look to the building and business. People moving in from the east were supposedly impressed by the eastern appeal of these buildings. Store keepers and town builders felt the false fronts, turning one story building into two stories, gave the appearance of a busy commercial district.

One interesting story says the false fronts were used in Colorado to hide the mountains from the new easterners, thus not reminding them they were not back east any longer. Today mountain views are one of the great things about the mountain west and they can cost homeowners a lot of money. How times have changed. 

The Photos are from main street in Hartville Wyoming a great old west tiny (population less than 100) town.

For Sale Business Building

Hartville Post Office

The Old Fire House - There is a Very Nice New One Now

And a Fixer Upper

Using the Medicine Wood

 Medicine Bow is one of the most impressive mountains in south eastern Wyoming. The Mountain, most often called, Medicine Bow Peak, is part of  a small range called the Medicine Bow's. Nearby is the tiny village of Medicine Bow and Medicine Bow River.

Took This Shot of Medicine Bow Peak Last Sunday

Where did the name Medicine Bow come from? Good solid birch trees that made terrific hunting bows for native peoples roaming and hunting the area. Many different woods and even the antlers of big horn sheep and elk were used in various parts of the west to make hunting bows. The Birch wood found along today's Medicine Bow River must have made exceptional bows. So good they said it was, “good medicine,” the medicine wood.

Powerful Animals Took a Powerful Bow

 See the town of Medicine Bow here -

Sitting Bull - the name

Indian legends often tell the story of the high regard which native peoples held animals. Sitting Bull is a great example. Sioux oral history states that his father, after hearing a nearby buffalo bull bellowing took this as a sign. He chose this sign to made four names from, Sitting Bull, Lone Bull, Jumping Bull and Standing Bull.

Wyoming Buffalo

He then used the first and what he considered the most powerful name, Sitting Bull as his own name. But when his 14 year old son showed exceptional bravery counting his first coup, his father gave away that name to his son, who would become the great Sitting Bull of history books and the Wild West Show. Sitting Bull’s father lived out the rest of his life as another of his four names, Lone Bull.

Sitting Bull