Things To Do On A Wyoming Mothers Day

Seems to me that a good Wyoming Sunday afternoon drive cures most of my ailments.
Sometimes it is all about the view - this one from 25 miles west of town

It is always fun for Jan and me to see what wildlife are up and around, enjoying the day. 
Looks like a family outing

Wild Iris
This time of the year it is fun to what new wildflowers are blooming.
Indian Paintbrush - Wyoming State Flower
Today we took a drive to the west of town, not a long drive, only a total of about 75 miles and a couple of hours.
Prairie Dog calling out
 I thought that today I would post a few photos of our drive – it’s kind of what Wyoming is all about. 

Hope all of you enjoyed the day as much as we did.

Wyoming State Slogan

Wyoming State Slogan

If you are like me, not a good deal, you may not know that Wyoming has a state slogan.  Stop roaming; try Wyoming, healthy, wealthy, growing Wyoming.  Not very catchy in today’s world, much too old fashioned.

The slogan was picked as the winner of a contest in the Wyoming State Tribune, and the winning slogan was announced on February 20, 1917. The winner was actually submitted by two people. The first part was by Harry McCraken of Casper, and the last part was submitted by George Stough of Cheyenne. I am not sure how the judges called the winner after changing the entries to make one they liked.

Much like our own holiday, Wyoming Day, December 10 each year, the state slogan has been, pretty much forgotten.

In today’s world we are still all about branding, not sure the state slogan would fit into today’s version of Wyoming.

Speaking of branding. In 1936, Wyoming trademarked the bucking bronco logo for license plates. But that logo of the famed bucker Steamboat goes all the way back to the time of the state slogan, 1918. One of the reasons that today we are the Cowboy State today, instead of the Sagebrush State or the Equality State of 100 years ago, is that famous logo seen on Wyoming license plates. 

The Closing of Fort Laramie April 20, 1890

On April 20, 1890, the last soldiers left Fort Laramie.  127 years ago does not seem long ago as I have lived more than half those years.  The fort, once one of the most important along the Oregon Trail and for years a hotbed of activity for trappers, traders, travelers, tribes and the military was no longer needed – that’s progress.

I decided to go back and take a look at the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The treaty is short, a bit over a thousand words (about four pages) and contains eight articles. Each article, when broken down in today’s world, looks to be something that would not work – and they didn’t.

ARTICLE 6. The parties to the second part of this treaty having selected principals or head-chiefs for their respective nations, through whom all national business will hereafter be conducted, do hereby bind themselves to sustain said chiefs and their successors during good behavior.

Here is what I wrote about the treaty and specifically. Article 6, a few years ago.

Although the government meant well, a lack of understanding of Indian culture and governing policies likely doomed the treaty from the start.  The government idea of assigning each tribe a certain area, as if each was a state or county within a state was a foreign idea to the tribes and likely not understood. Also, the idea of one man as a head chief for each tribe did not work. Within the Indian culture, if an important matter was to be decided anyone in the tribe had a say.

Fort Laramie and the end of its day’s 127 years ago Thursday, April 20.

Some of My Favorite Wyoming People

Today I thought that I might write a piece on famous people from Wyoming. Looks like I may need to put that off. Why? Too much research. I looked at famous writers, but many of the famous writers from Wyoming were not born here or did not live here for any significant time. I don’t care if they were not born here for my list of famous people from Wyoming but am not sure, as I read in other sources, that claiming a town in Wyoming is a favorite place or vacation living, part time, in a Wyoming Yurt qualifies as Wyoming.

Guess I was not sure what I was looking for. Jim Bridger is near the top of many lists for famous Wyomingites but was not born here. He did spend many years here, and that’s enough for me. Fourteen years ago, maybe it was 15, I ran for a statewide political office (if you have never tried this I would not recommend it) several times I was put down by an opponent because I was not born here. Living here for nearly two decades didn’t count in his book – I thought that should be enough. Now I have spent more than three decades in Wyoming and might qualify. I am, of course, speaking with tongue in cheek but I do believe that to be a famous Wyoming person that a few years in the state should be a qualifier.
If I listed my favorites most would be Mountainmen or Native Indians

Here are ten people that I researched for posts in the past year, all famous and very interesting.  Not my top 10, just 10 people that everyone in Wyoming should know more about.

Note – I purposely did not say anything about them, take the time to Google – fun stuff. Sorry, it must be the old teacher in me.


Maxwell Struthers Burt
Nellie Tayloe Ross
Edgar Wilson Nye
Annie Proulx
Chris LeDoux
Curt Gowdy
Jackson Pollock
Velma Linford
Robert LeRoy Parker – Butch Cassidy
John B. Kendrick

In other news, I am happy to say I, at last, got out my second book in the Blade Holmes western mysteries published. This one entitled, The Ghost Dance, follows Marshall Holmes from Fort Robinson, Nebraska to Nevada and back to the Sioux Reservations of Southern South Dakota.  The book centers on the famous circle dance of the white shirted dancers, the Ghost Dance. This one has lots of authentic western history and is a very nice follow up to, Commitment, the first Blade Holmes historic novel.

Spring and Bluebirds in Wyoming

A Sunday Drive

Working on a re-do of how this site looks. So far, a lot of do-overs, but I will get there soon.   

We took an enjoyable drive yesterday and were once again reminded of how beautiful Wyoming can be. To some it looks terribly empty, to others, there is too much to see. 
Playing with the colors a bit
Snow in the mountains
If this one is blurry, they were in an all out run - 55, or so MPH

All of the photos are from that two hour and ten-minute drive. 
Young Mule Deer
Horses enjoying the new growth grass

A Few Thoughts on History – From an Old History Teacher

I mentioned, in a speaking engagement a week ago, that new history consistently replaces older history. Things that happened in the past few years seem bigger than they are and replace significant events from the past. That is one of the reasons that new history affords more words to social history, and less to major events from the past.
On the grounds of Fort Laramie
Once one of the most famous forts  in the west,
 now, but a few words in a textbook at best

History textbooks are usually the biggest, heaviest book a high school student will see, but history continues to get newer. Not many years ago it took an entire year for a history class to go from early colonization to the Civil War, that same class today will go to WW1 or WW2 in that same year. The second year of American history might today start in the 1950s and the Korean War.  History is ever-evolving tossing out what becomes less important for the newer more relevant events of the modern world.
New dig site at Sunrise

Even in a small state like Wyoming history can be forgotten. One case in point would be the ancient Sheep Eaters tribe. We know very little about them but even what we know is not passed on in many books. I hear some lamenting about Europe, and how their history is so much older than ours. What? It may be different, but older, I would beg to differ. Aboriginal or prehistoric quarries are found in many places around where I live in southeast Wyoming, the Spanish Diggings, Hell Gap, and Sunrise are among the best known.

Sitting on a pile of worked rock at the Spanish Diggings
All of it worked with stone tools

Seems hard as I grow older seeing social media and the internet telling us what is important and what is not. A wise man, my dad, once told me that the older we get, the less willing we are to accept what is new. History continues to change, and I only wish we could save more from the past for future generations to learn from.

I used to tell my students that history is simple – stories passed on from generation to generation. Looking back at events from the past. Whether we learn from it or not is up to us. 

For those with an interest in Guernsey State Park

The Dam at Guernsey is empty as work continues on the large
gate on the left of the photo - the dam is about to reach 90
years of age and is aging well. Should be full, with the road
across the dam, open once again in early May.

Wyoming Mystery - Free eBook

Decided to try something new and offer one of my novels for free the next few days. I tried this with a short story and got quite a few downloads and some nice comments.

Here it is 

 Ghost of the Fawn

Jimmy Bison-Man and Robert Lincoln, two big city high school seniors to be, went in search of fame and fortune. The two use their last free summer to travel to far off Wyoming in search of a sacred Arapaho Medicine-Bundle. What they find surprises both of them.

Wyoming Pioneer Sheep-Man J D Woodruff

According to my calendar, Spring-2017 started yesterday, and it felt like it. Today seems like we slipped back into the ending days of winter, but that is March in Wyoming.

The first cabin in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming was built by, New Yorker who came west, J. D. Woodruff. He would go on to become a Wyoming pioneer in both the sheep and cattle business. Woodruff came early to Wyoming and served as a scout for the Washburn-Langford expedition into the Yellowstone area in 1870.
Not the Woodruff Cabin, his was not near this nice

The first cabin in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming was built by, New Yorker who came west, J. D. Woodruff. He would go on to become a Wyoming pioneer in both the sheep and cattle business. Woodruff came early to Wyoming and served as a scout for the Washburn-Langford expedition into the Yellowstone area in 1870.

In 1871, John Dwight Woodruff built his cabin on the Owl Creek in what is today Hot Springs County, an area that only a few years before was a sought after and fought over Indian hunting area. Woodruff’s cabin wasn’t much by today’s standard, but it served well enough for his trapping cabin. The structure was 12 feet wide, 20 feet long and seven logs high. The area where he built the cabin, had long been and remained Shoshone area and Woodruff was able to get permission from the famous chief himself, Chief Washakie, to graze sheep. Not sure he told the old chief he intended on grazing 6,000 head, but that is what he brought in from Oregon. It was the first large sheep operation in the state. Woodruff, by the 1880s, was still grazing the area but now with cattle.
Hunting ground became grazing for sheep and cattle

Woodruff later sold his cabin and site for $18,500 to Captain R.A Torrey stationed at Fort Washakie. Torrey later brought in his brother Colonel J.L. Torrey as a partner in the ranch. From the time of the purchase, the two expanded the ranch rapidly, and it soon became the famous Embar Ranch with a reported 40,000 cattle and 6,000 horses. The Cabin site has been noted in the National Register of Historic Places since 1970. The little cabin no longer stands but is marked by a bronze plaque noting its inclusion as a national historic site.

Woodruff seemed to have been lucky in life surviving many close encounters with Indians in the area. Once facing certain death he and three friends were saved when a party of Indians arrived and scared off the tribe Woodruff, and his buddies were fighting for their lives against. Sounds like they were friends with the newly arrived Indians, but according to Woodruff’s account, the second bunch did not know that Woodruff and his friends were there. On another occasion, he hid in the dark underbrush for eleven days as a group of warriors hunted for the trapper along the river. Woodruff survived because he always brought along fishing supplies, and lived on raw fish as he waited for the warriors to leave the area.

Quite an interesting and important man, now mostly lost in history.

Thoughts on a Warm March Day

Interesting to see the big storm in the east when here in Wyoming I spent three hours sitting on the deck in a short sleeve shirt drinking iced tea. Hope all is well on the coast, and no one is injured by the storm, looks like a bad one.

We often get a bad rap for our terrible Wyoming weather, but not so bad today. In my little part of the state, the weather is our well-kept secret. With mountains a few miles to the west, we seem to live in a moderate climate, not much wind and much warmer than most non-Wyomingites would guess. I have played golf at least twice in 34 of the past 36 months. Today my tomato plants are eight days old and sitting in the sun on the deck. Enough bragging about the weather.

When I was researching my newest novel, I am waiting for the proof now.  I read through many pages of material about the closing of Fort Laramie, The Wounded Knee massacre and Wyoming statehood, all which took place in 1890.

Oddly of all the forts in Wyoming, the 41 years, that Fort Laramie existed was the longest of any fort in the state. It shows the short amount of years that passed with westward expansion, the 49ers, the Indian wars, the transcontinental railroad, the telegraph and the pony express. What a time in Wyoming and what a time in the west.
Cover of my new book - Photo from Fort Laramie
If the proof is good the book will  be available in a few days

For many years I had my students do a paper on, What time in history would you go back to, if time travel were possible? They could pick any time period in American history and surprisingly quite a few picked the 1950s and 1960s, my time – maybe I talked too much about my growing up years. Of course, many picked the Oregon Trail or 49ers time. A few always wanted early America and the founding fathers. I told them I wanted the 1820-1840 mountain man time, I always wanted to be a mountain man, but now looking at the time, 1849-1890 of Fort Laramie, that would have been historically fascinating.
Photo from last year at Fort Laramie - Fur Trade Days

Speaking of interesting times in history, in the photo below I am standing by, what I believe, is the only remaining cap house, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, in America. This one is in great shape in Guernsey State Park. Oh, by the way, a cap house stored dynamite caps, far away from the dynamite.
This photo was taken early this week on a terrific day to be in the park.

So ends my thoughts on a beautiful Wyoming day. 
Wyoming Mule Deer

Battle Mountain Wyoming

The Tale of Two Mountains Named Battle

Wyoming boasts, not one but two Battle Mountains. One of the  Battle Mountain’s and the more famous of the two is in the Medicine Bow Range on Wyoming’s southern border and sits near the tiny hamlet of Savery, peaking at a bit over 9,100 feet, about 3,000 feet more than the surrounding area. The second is in Sublette County south and east of Jackson and is described more often as a hill than a mountain with an elevation of 7,100 feet.

As readers might guess, each was named after a famous battle. Or in the case of the Sublette Mountain a bit of a disturbance. In reality, the battle was but a misunderstanding of hunting rights in the area. In 1895 a posse from Jackson was sent to arrest a small party of Bannocks for game law violations. Seems the area had been a long time hunting ground for the tribe, but now with Wyoming being a state for five years there were rules about hunting. Never mind that the Bannock tribe had hunted the area for generations.

The Battle Mountain in southern Carbon County boasts a much better reason for its name.  It was the setting for an 1841 battle between 35 members of the American Fur Company and what has been described as a large group of Cheyenne and Sioux. Several trappers, including Henry Fraeb (also spelled as Frapp), the group’s leader, were killed. Beloved Wyoming mountain man, Jim Baker at age 21,  became the new leader of the trapper bunch when Fraeb was killed, and barely escaped with his life. The furious battle led to the changing of Bastion Mountain’s name, to Battle Mountain.
Battle Mountain and Battle Lake - Site of the 1841 battle
Note – There is also a nice Wyoming legend of Thomas Edison camping at the foot of Battle Mountain and fishing in Battle Lake when he was struck with the inspiration to create an electric light. Great story if it’s true!

Wyoming Snowstorm and Trivia Too

It’s always fun to see the weather reports get it right. Lots of snow and we did need the moisture, after the wind of the past two weeks.
Not sure how a foot and a half of snow was handled in the old days. Probably a lot like me with this one – stay inside and read a book, or work on a project of some kind.
Pine Tree sagging onto garage
The only time I ventured out yesterday was to clean off our dish so the TV stations would come back. Later we did a bit of shoveling from our back door to the garage. All in all, it was a pretty good day.
My back, Rasberry Patch
I did finish the cover for my new book, the third in the series of kids books written for second, third and fourth graders. Now awaiting the proof copies.
Cover for New Kids Book - Should be available by mid-March
It has been too long since I posted my infamous, Wyoming Trivia. Today, give these five questions a try.

Answers below the next photo.

1.   Who was the leader of the first Geological Survey into Yellowstone?
2.   What Wyoming County sits in the middle of these six counties: Sheridan, Cambell, Converse, Natrona, Washakie and Big Horn?
3.   What is the oldest of the five major dams on the North Platte River? This dam is over 100 years old.
4.   What river disappears into Sinks Canyon?
5.   What man caused a controversy at Fort Laramie by hanging two Sioux with chains, and still went on to be appointed as a Wyoming Territorial Governor?
Now let's see how you Turkey's did!
1.   F. V. Hayden
2.   Johnson County
3.   Pathfinder
4.   Popo Agie

5.   Thomas Moonlight

Flat Nose Currie or Big Nose George Parrott

Famous outlaws with strange noses. At least that is what I thought I might call this post.

Maybe, Flat Nose Currie and Big Nose George Parrott were not the same man would be a better title. The fact is, likely only because of their noses these two men are often mixed up, but they shouldn’t be.

George Sutherland Currie often called Flat-Nose, because of his, well, rather flat and wide nose, was a well known and somewhat written about robber in Wyoming and the old west. He mentored cold-blooded killer Harvey Logan, who took the name Kid Currie out of respect for his friend and teacher. The two robbed banks before joining Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch.
Flat Nose

Big Nose George Parrott, who went by several aliases, never rode with, and never met Butch Cassidy. This is a certainty as Parrott was lynched when Butch Cassidy was still Robert LeRoy Parker, a 14-year-old, growing up in Utah.
Big Nose

Parrott claimed he rode with the famous James brothers, another story that has been mostly debunked. Much of the fame Big Nose George has today, is because after his death he was partially skinned with the skin being made into a medical satchel and a pair of shoes for Dr. John Osborn. Osborn who was involved in a gruesome autopsy where he and a Doctor friend searched Parrott’s brain for evidence of a criminal lobe.

Governor Osborn - Dr. Osborn, a few years later, wore the shoes to the governor's inaugural ball when he was elected Wyoming’s third governor and the first Democrat to hold the office. Osborne declined a chance to run for another two-year term and instead served as Wyoming’s representative in the 55th Congress of the United States.

So why all the above about the two outlaws?  Recently I ran across a  list of members of the Hole in the Wall Gang from a familiar source, one that many modern day, old west writers use in research. This was one of the listings. “George L. ‘Flat Nose’ Curry, also known as George Parrott, was a veteran bank robber. . . . . .”

And if that was not bad enough, not surprisingly, multiple sources on the web have the two mixed up. I Googled a photo of George “Flat Nose” Curry, and the first few that came up were all photos of Big Nose George.

Nope, not the same guy – fake news, er, a, fake history.

The moral of this post, check the facts, even if most modern day news outlets do not. 
Nothing to do with today's post but a photo I took yesterday

Wyoming Wildlife

Random Thoughts on a Windy Wyoming Day
Today in my little part of Wyoming we are experiencing warm weather, in the mid-fifties, and incredible wind. Weather app says winds are blowing 25-45 with gusts to 60. Good day to stay inside.

Bison - The two main species of Buffalo in the world reside in Africa. In America we have Bison, and lots of them, over a half million by recent count.  For some odd reason, in the past two years sportscasters have started to pronounce Bison when talking about the North Dakota State Bison as if it were – Bye -zzon, instead of the correct Bye-son. Drives me nuts, but since they keep doing it, I guess no one else either notices or cares. Hope I never read a novel with hunters or native tribes are off, hunting bizzon.

Pronghorn - In that same vain people in the west have referred to Pronghorn as Antelope for years. There are 91 species of Antelope but none in the western hemisphere. As for the Pronghorn there is only one, and in Wyoming, we have a varied population that now numbers around 400,000, it was as high as 600,000 plus, as recently as 2005, but drought and bad winters have moved the total lower. I hunted Pronghorn for years and enjoyed it, but now hunt only with my camera and they are a most interesting subject.

American Sagebrush Ecosystem – Looks like sagebrush is on the decline in the west. At first, this may look to not be a problem, but like all ecosystem’s destroying or greatly changing one will gradually change others, much more than at first believed.

Wyoming is also home to 50,000 or so, Mule Deer. We have a terrific population around here, even in town. They can be a menace, especially when they eat the blooms from my strawberries and tops from my tomatoes. They also love to take a bite from green tomatoes, sorry deer it’s not an apple, then spit it out. How many albino mule deer are there in the state? Well, that’s a good question. I have found researchers that say one in 500,000 others that say it could be much lower, one in 20,000. That means we, have two at any one time or one every ten years. Either way, it is exciting to see one.