Streams to dams

Jackson Lake Dam, Grand Teton, Wyoming

Just think how a little stream with clear water and pebbles meanders into larger streams, rivers, lakes – providing such a powerful force that benefits, and sometimes threatens, life and land.

The Grand Teton National Park provides many opportunities for observing simple landscape to recreation, including survival. The Snake River flows into Jackson Lake, providing delight to rafters and boaters alike. Jackson Dam controls the water to benefit habitat downrange, and beyond.

May we let the streams flourish for ourselves and others, maintaining control to prevent overflow of the banks and damage to all. May we use controls within and without to benefit ourselves and others as well.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Ranchers and Jackson Hole

Cabin on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park

I wondered what type of ranches developed in Wyoming even before the Grand Teton National Park was established in the early 1900s.  Upon research, it is interesting how people traveled from the eastern side of the U.S. to explore and settle in the western U.S. 

Barn on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park

Land Opportunity

The Homestead Act of 1862 established by President Abraham Lincoln was apparently a key piece of legislation that would entice easterners to move west. 

Historical barns with newer ranch house on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park

The Homestead act created a public land management system that allowed individuals traveling to the west to acquire land for free.  Sign me up, right?  However, the land no doubt was taken years ago. 

Cabin on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park

A homesteader was an individual 21 years of age or older, the head of a household and someone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government.  When the act was signed, the U.S. had just finished its first year following the end of the Civil War. 

Homesteaders were individuals who used legal means to acquire virtually free ownership of their land.  https://jacksonholehistory.org/homesteading-in-jackson-hole/

Historical ranch house on Snake River at Grand Teton National Park

It appears Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was a central location that supported ranchers throughout the Teton Range, including the establishment of “dude ranches.”  For instance, experienced dudes, Struthers Burt and Dr. Horace Carncross opened Jackson Hole’s second dude ranch in 1912, the Bar BC Ranch. Burt described dude ranching as cattle ranching modified to care for “dudes”—visitors willing to pay handsomely for a quaint cowboy experience.

Wanna-be Ranchers

During its peak years, as many as 50 dudes could stay at a monthly rate of $300 each. These rustic destinations copied the layout of working cattle ranches. Only six dudes stayed the first summer, but the Bar BC soon became Jackson Hole’s most famous dude ranch. More information and images are also located at https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/historyculture/bcran.htm and https://jacksonholehistory.org/sky-ranch/.

Additional images of the Teton history may be viewed at  https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/gallery.htm?pg=1952309&id=FCF8CFA1-155D-451F-67A5268A72280213.

Historical ranch barns remain on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National park

Mormons Build Community

In addition to those traveling from the east to establish land ownership, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, sent parties from the Salt Lake Valley to establish new communities and support their expanding population.

Historical barn on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park

Mormon homesteaders, who settled east of Blacktail Butte near the turn of the 19-century, clustered their farms to share labor and community, a stark contrast with the isolation typical of many western homesteads. These settlers first arrived in the 1890s from Idaho establishing a community (named Grovont by the U.S. Post Office), and known today as “Mormon Row.” https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/historyculture/mormon.htm

Mormon Row At Grand Teton National Park

The area surrounding Jackson Hole still reminds travelers of the western life and the open terrain of the Teton Range.  When we visited the town of Jackson, it had the feel of a tourist attraction with many shops and restaurants.  It is a nice place to shop and explore though, and it still has a lot of history to examine. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Settlers make a difference

Cunningham cabin at Grand Teton National Park

Frontier settlers throughout history made a difference toward building development and life itself.  Wyoming’s Grand Teton benefited by certain visionaries. 

J. Pierce Cunningham was a rancher who became a conservationist.  He settled in Jackson Hole in the 1880s despite the winter hardship.  He originally opposed the expansion of Grand Teton National Park but later became an advocate. 

Cunningham teamed with his neighbor, Josiah “Si” Ferrin to write a petition signed by 97 valley ranchers who agreed to sell their land to form a “national recreation area.”  John D. Rockefeller, Jr’s Snake River Land Company bought Cunningham’s land and other ranches.  Rockefeller later donated more than 33,000 acres to expand the national park. 

Now we can observe and preserve the beauty of the Grand Teton National Park. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Enjoy the journey

Snow-capped mountains near the Grand Tetons from afar

So, you can’t wait to finish the journey,

Your travels bear down and create the stress,

Keep aware of life all around without worry,

Realize what we have and how we are blessed.

Clouds cap the Wyoming mountains and the lake reflects the light

The clouds along the way, always with sun above,

The snow so lovely like icing on a cake;

Yet so cold but warms the heart,

When we realize the beauty – it’s real and not fake.

Small mountains, prairies, rock, trees and lakes are part of Wyoming’s landscape

Thank you for going along on our journey through Wyoming and eventually in South Dakota.

Blessings and love along the Way!

Ron

Relax, take it all in

Horse chill while enjoying the Wyoming landscape

New week begins, are you ready?

Relax! Enjoy the air, landscape, peace that awaits your pleasure.

Breath deep and see, observe beauty around you.

We have so much of creation that is still preserved in nature;

If we will see, and allow it to speak to us anew.

Horses roam the Wyoming landscape

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Lander – on the way

Red rock formations near Lander and Dubois, Wyoming

Following a beautiful, yet wide-open plains travel into Wyoming as we traveled toward the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, we welcomed a respite in Lander.  One could naturally feel the pioneer and western spirit. 

While Lander is a stopping point, it is also a beginning point for those desiring to explore the mountains or the desert.  It is surely a welcomed site for bicyclists and hikers.  In 1906, Chicago and North Western Transportation made Lander the end point of its “Cowboy Line” railway and the town earned the slogan “Where the rails end and the trails begin.”  The Cowboy Line ran from 1906 to 1972.  (Lander Chamber of Commerce)

Lander was named for transcontinental explorer Frederick W. Lander and is located in central Wyoming, along the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River. It is just south of the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Population is around 7,500. (Wikipedia)

The Wind River Indian Reservation is quite stunning.  I can see why travelers would consider settling there, albeit the winters can be quite brutal.  I can see also why the Indians fought so valiantly to retain their dwelling and hunting land.  Still, with the news of opportunity in the west continuing to bombard those in the east, it was inevitable that travelers would come. 

“For 19th century prospectors and miners in the rich gold fields of South Pass, the crimson mouth of Red Canyon meant a change in diet. From the wind-swept sagebrush prairie, they could descend nearly 2,000 feet down a steep wagon road to the fruit orchards and vegetable gardens in the warm valley below where they purchased fresh produce – a welcome switch from wild game meat.”  https://windriver.org/destinations/lander/

Since we had been traveling for a few hours along the Chief Washakie Trail, lunch was calling.  We traveled through Lander and located a local, nice place to eat – Gannett Grill. 

The menu was enticing as we examined something different.  That’s one of the interesting and fun parts of travel, getting to try things different than our normal routine.  The food was excellent and we enjoyed sitting outside, relaxing from the drive. 

Before leaving Lander, we wanted to check out some authentic Native American gift items and stopped at the Indian Territory gift shop.

I liked Lander.  The people were friendly.  The town wasn’t large, but it had about all the conveniences you need. 

Time didn’t permit stopping at the western museum but it is worth a stop if you’re in the area.  Here is some of their information.  http://museumoftheamericanwest.com/#first-row

The pioneer village at the museum provides excellent insight to life as a western pioneer back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  http://museumoftheamericanwest.com/index.php/pioneer-village/

#LanderWyoming; #westernpioneers

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Washakie

Washakie

Every heard of him?  Chief Washakie was a prominent leader of the Shoshone people during the mid-19th century. He was first mentioned in 1840 in the written record of the American fur trapperOsborne Russell.

“In 1851, at the urging of trapper Jim Bridger, Washakie led a band of Shoshones to the council meetings of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851). Essentially from that time until his death, he was considered the head of the Eastern Shoshones by the representatives of the United States government.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washakie

Washakie’s prowess in battle, efforts for peace and commitment to his people’s welfare made him one of the most respected leaders in Native American history. In 1878, a U.S. Army outpost located on the reservation was renamed Fort Washakie.  It was the only U.S military outpost to be named after a Native American. (Wikipedia)

Washakie County, Wyoming was named for him. In 2000, the state of Wyoming donated a bronze statue of Washakie to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

There is also a statue of Washakie in downtown Laramie at the University of Wyoming.  Many locations are named after him as well. 

I didn’t know much of the history of Chief Washakie until I first saw his statue in Laramie.

Statue and description at the University of Wyoming in Laramie

Once we departed Laramie and traveled toward Rawlins and Lander, Wyoming, the chief’s background became more intriguing.  We found ourselves on the Chief Washakie Trail that extends through the area and Shoshone Reservation. 

Here is a little ride-along if you care to join me.  The clip picks up leaving Rawlins, Wyoming on U.S. 287 traveling the open road with miles of sage brush and occasional hills.  You’ll then notice a sign saying Chief Washakie Trail.  We even crossed the Continental Divide a couple of times.  Stay tuned toward the end of the clip and you’ll see us driving toward the Crow Heart Butte.  I’ll explain that below.    

Washakie was not born to a Shoshone tribe.  No doubt he had a challenging childhood and was likely lost when he escaped with some of his family when his tribe was raided by an enemy tribe.  He was later found and was adopted into the Shoshone tribe.  He became a mighty warrior and eventually chief of the Eastern Shoshone Indians of Wyoming. 

Washakie befriended white pioneers who traveled through his territory in wagon trains, and no doubt as individuals, in the 1850s. He helped overland travelers in crossing streams and recovering cattle that had strayed.  It is stated Washakie was also a scout for the U.S. Army.     (Wikipedia)

Image from Wikipedia

It is evident to me that Washakie knew he and his people needed to adapt to the new life and work with the government initiative. 

Another challenge for Washakie was having sufficient land to hunt large game like buffalo and elk for their survival.  Other tribes had this problem as well, particularly with the U.S. Cavalry making progress in pushing the various tribes to reservations as the west was being populated. 

Wyoming was one of the last areas to become a reservation for Native Americans and this triggered intense competition.  The Sioux were well-trained warriors and had moved toward the area, as well as the Crow. 

According to Jackson Hole History, in 1856 the building up of the competition erupted in a violent battle between Washakie’s band and a large Crow group.  The fight took place when Washakie’s Shoshones traveled south from Henry’s Lake, according to the memoirs of Elijah Wilson, a white boy who spent two years with Washakie’s family during this time. 

Wilson said more than 50 Shoshones and 100 Crow warriors lost their lives, which is a tremendous loss of life and highly unusual in plains Indian warfare.  Wilson implied that Washakie and the Crow leader called a truce and both groups departed the scene.  However, it is quite possible and perhaps likely that this battle is the legendary story of the Battle of Crow Heart Butte. 

According to the story, following a battle like this one described by Wilson, Washakie challenged the Crow leader to single combat, with the loser’s people agreeing to retreat from the area.  This event supposedly took place at the top of the Crow Heart Butte, a monolithic table-top mesa near the Big Wind River, about 30 miles south of Dubois, Wyoming. 

Crow Heart Butte, near Dubois, Wyoming (U.S. Library of Congress)

Washakie emerged victorious, holding the heart of the Crow warrior, thus giving the mesa its name and addition another layer of mystery to Washakie’s life.  https://jacksonholehistory.org/chief-washakie-of-the-shoshone-a-photographic-essay-by-henry-e-stamm-iv-ph-d/ 

Here is another account of the battle between the Shoshone and Crow leaders. 

Crow Heart Butte was the site of a battle between the Crow and Shoshone American Indian tribes in 1866. According to legend, following a five-day battle for rights to the hunting grounds in the Wind River Range, Chief Washakie of the Shoshone and Chief Big Robber of the Crow agreed to a duel, with the winner gaining the rights to the Wind River hunting grounds. Chief Washakie prevailed, but he was so impressed with the courage of his opponent that rather than scalp him, he cut out his heart and placed it on the end of his lance.  Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/item/2017688173/

The following is another story presented by the Historical Marker Project as it referenced the statue of Washakie. 

This bronze sculpture captures the moment when Chief Washakie first raises his lance challenging Crow Chief Big Robber to a duel. The Battle of Crow Heart Butte was ignited when Crow Chief Big Robber and his braves refused to leave an area near this unique geological outcropping at the middle northern boundary of the present-day Wind River Reservation.

Game had become increasingly scarce in other areas, with more tribes looking to the Wind River Valley for their winter supply of meat. Like the Shoshone, the Crow believed that this was their territory too. When the Crow moved in, to hunt, Washakie allowed them to stay for several weeks. Eventually, however, Washakie sent one of his best warriors and the warrior’s wife as a peace envoy with a message telling Big Robber that it was time to move east toward the Owl Creek Mountains. 

The Crow chief’s response was to kill the Shoshone scout as the woman watched helplessly. Big Robber then sent her home to relate the horrific scene to Chief Washakie.

Although Washakie considered Big Robber to be a very strong opponent who was revered among his people for his steadfast bravery, the Shoshone chief immediately organized a war party of men he had trained personally to military precision and set out to attack the band of Crow camped on the Big Wind River near the Kinnear Ranch.

A group of Bannocks (another tribe) joined Washakie in his attack on the Crow. Although taken by surprise, the Crow proved to be formidable adversaries for Washakie’s men.  The two sides fought for nearly a week without resolution.

Finally realizing that both chiefs were losing too many warriors, Washakie approached Big Robber with a proposition: the two chiefs would fight each other. The warriors of the losing chief would forfeit the hunting lands and go home. 

Fearless and menacing, Washakie rode close to the Crow chief and taunted him: “You and I will fight. And when I beat you, I will cut out your heart. And I will eat it!”

As the Shoshone and Crow warriors gathered on opposite sides to watch, the two chieftains rode back and forth taunting and yelling at each other. As the fight raged on, it became impossible to distinguish one from the other in the distant haze of dust.

Finally, Washakie emerged with Big Robbers heart on the end of his lance, determining the winner. True to his word, Washakie had indeed cut out the dead chief’s heart, but his descendants say he did not eat it.  Instead, he displayed it until after the Shoshone victory dance that night. Out of respect for the triumphant Washakie, the Crow gave him two young women. He later took one of them as his wife.  https://www.historicalmarkerproject.com/markers/HM1SPZ_battle-of-crowheart-butte_Laramie-WY.html

Washakie accomplished what most other Indian leaders of his time could not; a negotiated deal with the U.S. Government, guaranteeing land for his people.

When Washakie died he was given a full U.S. military funeral, supposedly the only Native American leader so honored. His cenotaph states that he “was noted for his friendship towards the white men” and even his tombstone praises him as “always loyal to the government and to his white brothers.” https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/36397 

Documentary: https://www.pbs.org/video/wyoming-pbs-documentaries-washakie-last-chief-eastern-shoshone/

Blessings along the Way! I’m sure glad you’re going along with us on this journey in Wyoming, South Dakota and elsewhere.

Ron

Trains through Laramie

The railroad remains a constant mover of life and goods to keep the connections between east and west United States.  Sure, aircraft can move people and goods faster, but think about the train – the volume of goods moved, support to towns and communities, the direct connection of those on the ground.  The railroad continues to develop and maintain a unique way of life, particularly out west. 

The clanging, rattling of the tracks, engines roaring, rails came alive in May 1868, the historic day when a train whistle marked the arrival of the first train in Laramie, Wyoming, on the newest section of the Union Pacific Railroad. 

Builders kept at the task and inched along, achieving milestones little by little. The west was being explored, although with hardship, and there would be success.

There is a remarkable difference from the trains and railroad operations of years past to the modern trains of today.  There remains still a little bit of the old western feel though.  Thankfully, the Laramie Railroad Depot helps preserve the past. 

In 1924 the Laramie depot was built to replace the town’s original Union Pacific Depot and Hotel that was destroyed by fire in 1917.  The depot served as Laramie’s Union Pacific passenger depot until 1971, and as an Amtrak depot until 1983. In 1985, the Union Pacific Railroad gave the Depot to the Laramie Plains Museum, which then transferred ownership to the Laramie Railroad Depot Association in 2009.

Postcard image of the 1924 Laramie Railroad Depot (https://laramiedepot.org/history)

“The Depot is the only remaining building left from the once large Union Pacific presence in Laramie and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The railroad is the reason for the city’s original existence, and the Depot is an important part of Laramie’s historic legacy.” More history is located at https://www.laramiedepot.org/history.

I enjoyed standing on the railroad walkway watching the trains move along, thinking of the history, and wondering what people from 1868 would say about these trains today. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Laramie

Street art in downtown Laramie portrays various aspects of life in and around this western town.

The high plains of southeastern Wyoming are now inviting to those with quick means of transportation, as compared to more than 100 years ago, although they had dreams and desires to start a new life, regardless of how long it took them.

Just envision the slow, cumbersome wagons and laboring livestock meandering their way to places unknown as the western U.S. was being formed.  Let’s take a quick glance at Laramie, Wyoming. 

Landscape around Medicine Bow and Laramie, Wyoming

I’m glad we were able to travel the area in June.  Here are some tidbits I collected for the post.

Laramie today is a town of nearly 31,000 people.  It is near the Medicine Bow Mountains and recreational parks.  It is home to the University of Wyoming. 

Laramie is also the historic place where a woman first cast a vote in a general election.  Some of the street art depicts pioneer women making significant milestones toward individual freedom.

In the early days, American Indians scattered the area during hunting season as they looked for large wildlife to sustain their livelihood. 

Laramie is another example too of the influence from those outside the United States who made lasting impacts toward societal growth.   

A French-Canadian trapper named Jacques La Ramee, sometimes spelled La Ramie, arrived in the area about 1817, and is thought to have explored the area around the Laramie River in what is now Wyoming.  Euro-American settlement commenced in 1862 with the arrival of Ben Holladay’s Overland Stage line.

The impending arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad on the Laramie Plains was assured when company surveyor James Evans laid out the general course of the line in 1864. The 1866 construction of Fort Sanders basically ensured settlement would continue in the area.

Historic photos and additional history: https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/brief-history-laramie-wyoming

Between Cheyenne and Laramie is a rock statue of Abraham Lincoln.

The following video clip provides a quick ride in parts of Medicine Bow approaching Laramie, and a short ride through parts of downtown Laramie.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron