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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

A news war in Paradise; old landmarks on the trails; black churches in Rock Springs

A news war in Paradise; old landmarks on the trails; black churches in Rock Springs

February 2017

This month we look at another newspaper conflict, visit a pair of important landmarks on the Oregon Trail and learn more about African-American churches in early 20th century Rock Springs. And as February is Black History Month, we’re offering some other articles from our archives, celebrating African-American contributions to Wyoming’s history and culture.

News war in paradise

Starting a newspaper is tough, even without rivals. Against enormous odds, the Jackson Hole News still managed to thrive while competing for three decades with the Jackson Hole Guide. Finally, the News bought the established newspaper and merged it into the Jackson Hole News&Guide, which survives today. Read more in longtime Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake’s two articles, Newspaper War in Paradise and Who Took the Photo? (These are the last in a year-long series of articles on Wyoming newspapering supported in part by the Wyoming Humanities Council and the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative.)

Landmarks on the Oregon Trail

Westbound wagon-train emigrants got their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains when they first saw the blue cone of Laramie Peak, 85 miles away. Snowcapped in early summer, the mountain stayed in sight for a week or more, dominating many diarists’ accounts and foreshadowing drier, more difficult country ahead. Read more at Laramie Peak: Landmark on the Oregon Trail.
 
Their wagons lurching over sharp boulders up a steep grade, westbound emigrants found a particularly difficult stretch of trail about 40 miles east of South Pass. The late-starting Willie Company of Mormons pulling handcarts suffered terribly here in 1856. For many, the end of the journey was a grave. Read more at Rocky Ridge.

(These articles continue our series on the Oregon/California/Mormon trails in collaboration with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and TravelStorys.)This month we look at another newspaper conflict, visit a pair of important landmarks on the Oregon Trail and learn more about African-American churches in early 20th century Rock Springs. And as February is Black History Month, we’re offering some other articles from our archives, celebrating African-American contributions to Wyoming’s history and culture.

Rock Springs’ black churches

Stability can be fleeting in a boom-and-bust economy, especially for racial minorities facing discrimination. African-Americans struggled to earn respect in early 20th century Wyoming, and building churches in Rock Springs and other towns helped them anchor their lives with a sense of belonging. Read more at Sweetwater County Museum Director Brie Blasi’s new article, This Great Struggle: African-American Churches in Rock Springs.
 
And see these articles for more on some remarkable African-Americans:
Liz Byrd, First Black Woman in Wyoming’s Legislature
Making a Home in Empire, Wyo.
William Jefferson Hardin: Wyoming’s first black legislator
Mathew Campfield: Union Veteran, Coroner and Pioneer Survivor

History Day is coming up soon!

Teachers, students and families, remember that regional competitions for Wyoming History Day begin in March, the state competition is April 9 and 10 at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and the national competition is June 11-15 at the University of Maryland at College Park, Md. Save the dates!
 
Judges are always needed for the regional and state competitions. This year’s theme is "Taking a Stand in History." For all the info visit https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/historyday/current.html or contact Wyoming History Day Coordinator Jessica Flock at 307-766-2300, jflock@uwyo.edu