Since the late 1940s, birders in Casper and around the state have pursued annual Christmas bird counts, providing reams of data for a fast-changing world. Rising early and working late, birders live to listen, watch and learn—and the birds keep flying.
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No landscape is beyond the reach of history. The wilderness of the Absaroka Mountains, bordering the west side of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin, is no different. Evidence of early mining activity still endures in isolated pockets, and searchers can still find cabin ruins, tailings and a few crumbing tunnels.
The first fur trader to take wagons over South Pass, Capt. Benjamin Bonneville, on leave from the U.S. Army in 1832, seems to have been seeking information about British activities in the far Northwest as much as he was seeking beaver pelts.
Hundreds of Cheyenne warriors charging a group of U.S. soldiers along a creek named Bonepile fulfills several Hollywood clichés. But these events on a hot August morning in 1865, 10 miles south of present Gillette, Wyoming, were very, very real.
“I knew we had to do something really quick. I was ready to lay down in front of a probably D17 [bulldozer] to stop that thing,” said George Frison, head of the anthropology department at the University of Wyoming. Read about the artifact-rich archaeological site Frison was prepared to defend: Powars II at Sunrise, Wyoming.
Historian, botanist, teacher and rancher Vie Willits Garber grew up in Big Horn and in 1910 earned a master’s degree in two disciplines from the University of Wyoming. She was the first person to carefully map and document the route of the Bozeman Trail—and she identified and listed 615 plants in the Little Goose Valley near her family’s home.
After Yellowstone rangers slaughtered 4,300 elk in 1961 to try and control overpopulation, hunters, outfitters and the public were enraged. In response, zoologist Starker Leopold, son of famed naturalist Aldo Leopold, wrote a groundbreaking report for the National Park Service that advocated systematic, scientific management of natural areas—a revolutionary approach at the time.
Frank Grouard lived with Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota bands as captive, adopted brother and champion hunter. Later he re-entered the world of White men as an army scout in the Indian Wars. He told his life story to Buffalo, Wyoming journalist Joe DeBarthe, who published it—and made some of it up.
Alexander Gardner took some of our most important photographs of the Civil War and the 19th-century West. His images from the crucial 1868 treaty negotiations at Fort Laramie capture Sioux, Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people, mixed-race families and interpreters, government peace commissioners and vivid scenes of life at the fort.
Attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center opened in Casper in August 2002. Keeping history and memory alive, the center also serves school groups and offers interpretive exhibits, guest speakers, re-enactors and special events targeting people of all ages and interests.