WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Kerry Drake

Kerry Drake

Kerry Drake of Casper is a Wyoming journalist who worked for nearly 40 years as a reporter and editor at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He writes a weekly column for WyoFile.com.

The Deadly Blackwater Fire

A sudden, hot wind one August afternoon in 1937 blew a small fire into an inferno that rushed for ridgetops above Blackwater Creek, in the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody, Wyo. Fifteen firefighters died; 38 more were burned in the fourth deadliest wildfire in the nation’s history.

Encyclopedia | Another high heating bill? A newspaperman wondered why. What he found led the Casper Star-Tribune on a probe in 1984 that revealed how a gas company was passing the cost of its own mismanagement on to Casper customers. It saved residents money, and earned a Pulitzer nod.
Encyclopedia | A sudden, hot wind one August afternoon in 1937 blew a small fire into an inferno that rushed for ridgetops above Blackwater Creek, in the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody, Wyo. Fifteen firefighters died; 38 more were burned in the fourth deadliest wildfire in the nation’s history.
Encyclopedia | Begun as a jobs program in the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps—“Roosevelt’s Tree Army”— employed more than 1,000 men in Wyoming building roads, improving parks, fighting fires and boosting local economies. The CCC legacy includes the classic, rustic stone-and-log buildings at Guernsey State Park.
Encyclopedia | Tracy McCraken borrowed $3,000 in 1926 to purchase the Cheyenne-based Wyoming Eagle. With a media empire that came to include newspapers in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs and Worland, plus TV and radio, he played a big role in 20th century Wyoming politics—and prospered.
Encyclopedia | Rural electrification brought welcome changes to farms and ranches throughout Wyoming in the 1930s and 1940s, despite numerous early challenges—including opposition from existing utilities— that threatened to thwart the effort.
Encyclopedia | Businessman, family man, territorial and state governor, U.S. Senator: Francis E. Warren succeeded in all of these roles, but he is best known for long service in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Wyoming. A Massachusetts native, Warren arrived in Cheyenne in 1868, when the city was still a mass of tents and other temporary structures, and quickly became involved in its business and politics. By around 1900 he was Wyoming’s most powerful Republican, and ran his party’s so-called Warren Machine for decades by patronage and pork-barrel politics.
Encyclopedia | On Aug. 2, 1867, a large force of Oglala Sioux attacked woodcutters near Fort Phil Kearny. Soldiers assigned to protect the woodcutters took cover behind a ring of wagon boxes. After the intense battle, both sides claimed victory, and estimates of the dead and wounded varied widely.
Encyclopedia | Educator Estelle Reel fought hard to obtain the Republican nomination for Wyoming superintendent of public instruction in 1894, after which she became the first woman in Wyoming elected to a statewide office. In 1898, President McKinley named her national superintendent of Indian schools.
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