WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Lori Van Pelt

Lori Van Pelt

Lori Van Pelt is the assistant editor of WyoHistory.org. She is an award-winning poet, fiction and nonfiction writer who has written books and numerous articles on Wyoming and the West. Her nonfiction books include Dreamers and Schemers: Profiles from Carbon County, Wyoming’s Past (Glendo, Wyo., High Plains Press, 1999); Capital Characters of Old Cheyenne (Glendo, Wyo.: High Plains Press, 2006) and Amelia Earhart: The Sky’s No Limit (New York: Forge Books, American Heroes series, 2006).

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Encyclopedia | The story of uranium in Wyoming is a high-stakes drama whose cast includes fever-driven prospectors, ranchers defending their property rights, government officials intent on national security, entrepreneurs, engineers and world-class mining companies.
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s first state prison was located in Rawlins, Wyo., and housed inmates for 80 years, beginning in 1901. In 1988, a joint powers board turned the abandoned building into a museum and renamed it the Wyoming Frontier Prison. Visitors today can tour the cells and see the grounds where 13,500 prisoners, including 11 women, served time.
Encyclopedia | The Hotel Wolf in downtown Saratoga, Wyo. opened in 1894 as a hostelry and stage stop and continues to serve locals and travelers today.
Encyclopedia | The Historic Elk Mountain Hotel, built in 1905 by John Evans, is located beside the Medicine Bow River, a place where Overland Trail travelers made crossings during their journeys west. In the 1940s and 1950s, the hotel’s Garden Spot Pavilion became well-known for its springy dance floor and for the many big-name musicians like Hank Thompson and Louis Armstrong who played there. The hotel underwent extensive renovation in the early years of this century, and the pavilion was demolished. Guests today enjoy modern conveniences, private baths and a dining room.
Encyclopedia | Bill Carlisle robbed passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad three times in 1916 and once more in 1919, after escaping from the state penitentiary in a box of shirts. In 1936 he was paroled and opened a café and tourist court in Laramie, and later wrote a book about his remarkable life.
Encyclopedia | Beautiful Carbon County in south-central Wyoming was established in 1868 and named for its coal. Since fur-trade days, through coal, copper, cattle, sheep, uranium, coal again, natural gas and wind power, booms, busts, and new booms have dominated the economy. The Union Pacific Railroad has by contrast offered a steadying influence, as has the state prison in Rawlins, the county seat. And the North Platte River, locals say, offers the best trout fishing in the world.
Encyclopedia | Old West adventurer, orator, barber, reported bigamist, and passionate defender of civil rights, Kentucky-born William Jefferson Hardin was Wyoming’s first African-American legislator in its territorial days.

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