Barbed Wire and the Telegraph

This month, we feature Wyoming’s prisoner of war camps and a 19th-century communications revolution.

Wartime captivity

During World War II, the U.S. Army operated two large and 17 smaller prisoner of war camps in Wyoming. Prisoners worked on farms and in the camps, often for private employers, who paid a going rate for local wages. Some prisoners became friends with their supervisors, others with the farm families they worked for. Read more in Cheryl O’Brien’s article, “Nineteen Camps: World War II POWs in Wyoming.”

Dots and dashes across Wyoming

Invented by Samuel F. B. Morse in the 1830s, the telegraph was already maturing when it crossed what soon became Wyoming in the 1860s. From the early days of settlement and through the railroad period, Wyomingites—and the nation—relied  on it. Read more in Phil Roberts’s article, “The Telegraph Crosses Wyoming, 1861.”

Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers

Cockeyed Happy: Ernest Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline, by Darla Worden. Chicago Review Press, Inc., 2021, 279 pages. $28.99 hardbound. This engaging narrative covers the six summers writer Ernest Hemingway spent in Wyoming with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Hemingway retreated to remote Wyoming dude ranches to write, where Pauline edited and typed his manuscripts and worked hard to keep up with him hunting and fishing.
This sympathetic portrayal of Pauline, unlike other accounts, casts her as warmhearted and wholesome: She became a second mother to Hemingway’s son by his first wife, Hadley, who forgave Pauline for taking her husband away.
Pauline, formerly an editor for Vogue magazine in Paris, gave up everything to marry Hemingway. Reorienting her whole life around his work, friendships and way of life, she bore him two sons. But while in Spain in the 1930s reporting on the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway met Martha Gelhorn, also a war correspondent. Hemingway divorced Pauline and married Gelhorn in 1940, 12 years after he’d married Pauline.
Weaving substantial biographical information into her bittersweet tale, the author includes anecdotes from Hemingway’s writing life, details about his and Pauline’s relationships with their sons, episodes from his Wyoming adventures with male friends—some of them other writers—and best of all, evocative descriptions of the dude ranches and surrounding countryside. Available at local booksellers and on Amazon.

Calendar Events

Rockpile Museum, Gillette
Rockpile volunteer and retired Navy Chaplain Bob Brown will speak at the museum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, on what happened on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor. Brown lived on Oahu, Hawaii for 17 years and is familiar with the events and places important to that day, which President Franklin Roosevelt said “will live in infamy.” Brown will show how Pearl Harbor changed  the lives of many military personnel and civilians forever, and will share first-hand accounts from three servicemen from Campbell County, Wyo. This event is free and open to the public.

The museum will also be showing a portion of the exhibit “Infamy: December 7, 1941,” first displayed at the Rockpile in 2016. This exhibit is courtesy of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. This display will be one night only. 

And the traveling exhibit “Wyoming Navy” is available for viewing through Dec. 31 in the museum’s annex building. “Wyoming Navy” features photographs and information about ships named for Wyoming’s people and places. On loan from the Fort Caspar Museum, the exhibit contains 26 panels with photos and history of 40 U.S. Navy craft. That exhibit will be part of regular museum admission; veterans and their spouses receive free admission all year at the Rockpile Museum. 

Christmas Crafts Family Day, Dec. 11, 10:00 a.m. to noon: The Rockpile Museum’s Annual Christmas Crafts family day is back for 2021. This family day will be in person this year. For more information or to register, call the museum at 307-682-5723, email or see the Rockpile home page.
Trail End Museum, Sheridan
Holiday Open House, Dec. 3, 4 and 5, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Live Music! Father Christmas! Trail End's Holiday Open House will get you into the holiday spirit. $4 per adult, and children are free. For more information visit the Trail End home page, or call (307) 674-4589.
Jim Gatchell Museum, Buffalo
Holiday Open House, Dec. 4, free museum admission, refreshments and store sales from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. New Christmas and gift items in stock now!
Drawing for the winner of the 1873 SA Cattleman Revolver will also be held.  If you have not yet purchased tickets, call us at 307-684-9331 to purchase. For more, visit the Gatchell home page.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody
Holiday Open House, Dec. 4 and 5, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: This year’s Holiday Open House, an annual tradition in Cody, brings a weekend of free admission to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Enjoy holiday decorations, complimentary hot cocoa and candy canes and two free days to explore the Center’s five spacious museums.
We encourage families attending to share the holiday spirit by contributing to the collection boxes at our front door entrance. Bring non-perishable food items; they will be distributed through Cody food pantries. Bring new, packaged toys; they will be distributed through Toys for Tots.
Join us for a fun and festive dinner, seasonal piano music by Shaun Balch and a spotlight by Curator Karen McWhorter on Charlie Russell’s whimsical illustrated holiday cards. Dec. 10, 2021, Kuyper Dining Pavilion, 6:00 p.m., doors open; 6:30 p.m., dinner; 7:00 p.m., artist spotlight. $40 per person. For more information, see the center’s home page.
Fremont County Museums
Dubois Museum, Dubois
Christmas Open House, Dec. 4, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Newly acquired artifacts are a part of must-see new exhibits. Take advantage of free admission. Refreshments provided by Friends of the Dubois Museum. Gift shop items are 15% off.
Pioneer Museum, Lander
Old-time Christmas Open House, Dec. 18, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Enjoy Christmas music, crafts, treats, Christmas exhibits and discounts in the museum gift store. This event, free and open to the public, is part of the Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series. For more information, call 307-332-3339.
Riverton Museum, Riverton 
Annual Open House and free museum day on Dec. 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Come by and enjoy the museum with some hot cocoa and Christmas snacks, as well as discounts in the museum gift store.
Home Built Classic Toys, also on Dec. 11,  2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: A Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children's Exploration Series program. Make your own classic toy with the staff of the museum. We will have kits available ranging in cost from $2.00 to $10.00. Kits will be available for purchase and assembly while supplies last until Christmas.
For more information on Fremont County Museums’ activities, click here.
Museum of the Mountain Man, Pinedale
Wreath and Chocolate Auction, Dec. 3, Lovatt Room, Pinedale Library: social hour, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Live auction starts at 7:00 p.m., caroling at 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit our home page.
Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, Jackson
Old Time Christmas for Kids, Dec. 18, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: good old-fashioned fun and crafts, with free admission to the museum. For more information, click here.
Laramie Plains Museum, Laramie
Holiday Open House, Dec. 11, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.Dec. 12, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Come tour the beautifully decorated mansion at no cost! Masks are required this year. Hosts will be at each room and entrance with complimentary masks if you need one, as well as help with information.
Alice Freeman will be playing her harp and That One Trio will be caroling on Saturday. Laramie Woman's Club will have Christmas items at great prices. Kirby Hornbeck will also have his stunning gallery photographs here. And new vendor Shelly Newman will be on hand with her holiday wreaths. For more information, visit the museum’s home page.
Fort Caspar Museum, Casper
A dozen local authors will sign their books Saturday, December 4th from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Fort Caspar Museum. Admission to the museum will be free and the gift shop, with one of the state’s best selections of books about Wyoming frontier history, will be open. The authors on hand have written on a wide range of topics, from works involving the history of Casper and Central Wyoming, to early day Wyoming dinosaur hunting, to mysteries and cookbooks. Authors include contributors Jefferson Glass, Johanna Wickman and Tom Rea. Click here to see a full list of the authors and their titles.
Current exhibits at the Fort Caspar Museum include  “The Bozeman Trail Diaries of Robert Dunlap Clarke,” “The ABCs of Casper History,” and the timeline of Central Wyoming history.
National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper
Again this year, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center will feature its annual Christmastime model train exhibits, made possible by the Central Wyoming Model Railroaders Association. See the trains from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dec. 2-4Dec. 9-11Dec. 15-18 and Dec. 28-30. Admission to the center is free.