In January 1949, a massive blizzard rocketed through central and southeastern Wyoming and nearby states killing 76 people and tens of thousands of animals and leaving memories in its wake that are still vivid more than 65 years later.
From 1893-1913, the Tongue River Tie Flume carried 2 million railroad ties from the Bighorn Mountains to the Burlington Railroad. Ties moved at high speed down 38 miles of flumes across trestles and through tunnels in canyon walls. Workers’ camps were large mountain villages with schools and blacksmith shops.
Was she a hard-drinking, swashbuckling mule skinner and Indian fighter? Or an alcoholic prostitute, stuck in menial jobs in a life both dreary and mundane? Calamity Jane's life is two stories: the facts of her biography, and the romantic tales that came to comprise the Calamity Jane legend.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt included Wyoming in his 25-state tour of the western United States. He spent nearly three weeks in Yellowstone National Park, gave a speech in Newcastle, and on the return leg from California, left the train long enough for a well-publicized horseback ride from Laramie to Cheyenne, and two extra days politicking and socializing in Wyoming’s capital.
William Henry Jackson’s artistic passions began during childhood in upstate New York. By age 15, he was retouching photographs for professionals. His photos of the West, especially Yellowstone Park, many of them made in the 1870s with the Hayden survey, had an enormous influence on public perceptions of the American West.
A childhood love of adventure eventually led the Belgian Jesuit priest Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to become a missionary to the Indians of the Rocky Mountains. He traveled throughout the northern Rockies, along the way celebrating the first Catholic Mass in what’s now Wyoming on July 5, 1840, during the Green River Rendezvous. In 1851, members of his party named Lake De Smet for him as they traveled from the Missouri River in present Montana to assist in treaty negotiations with the plains tribes near Fort Laramie.
The scenic Bighorn Basin and world-class fishing opportunities on the Bighorn River have made Big Horn County, Wyo., a tourist destination, but the area is also rich in oil and natural gas—and history. People have lived in the area since ancient times, as evidenced by the Medicine Wheel near the county’s northern corer. Ranch families still raise cattle and sheep, and farm families still raise sugar beets as they have for more than a century.
The mystery surrounding the Pedro Mountain Mummy, discovered in the 1930s about 60 miles south of Casper, Wyo., by two gold prospectors, continues to intrigue people. While some sensational media accounts indicated the mummy might have been one of the little people of American Indian folklore, scientists who studied the artifact in detail have concluded that the mummy was an infant who died because of a congenital defect.
Coal, railroads and oil have helped make Campbell County, Wyo., the second wealthiest county in the state, and the county’s coal mines are the largest in the world. Though coal production has begun to fall slightly in recent years, mining continues to be the main engine of the Campbell County economy. The county’s history is rich in Paleo-Indian and bison-bone discoveries as well.