This month, we feature articles on two events of the late 1890s. The first was an early ascent of the Grand Teton above Jackson Hole. The second was the sale to the U.S. government by Wyoming’s two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho, of the Big Horn hot springs—the huge springs at what is now Thermopolis, Wyo.
The climb sparked a disagreement—about who genuinely was first to top that mountain—that continues to this day. More importantly in Wyoming’s history, the hot springs sale was only one in a long series of land and sovereignty cessions that chipped away at tribal power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For the springs and 64,000 acres around them, he tribes were paid $60,000, an amount even the Indian agent called “abundantly low for the finest hot spring on earth.”
Meanwhile, as this time of year rolls around, we at WyoHistory.org wish everyone the happiest of holidays. Farther below, we share a few of the celebrations and events occurring around the state this season.
Who first topped the Teton?
In 1898, Wyoming State Auditor Billy Owen and friends climbed the Grand Teton and claimed they were first to do so. Counterclaims quickly surfaced, dating back to 1872. In 1929, Owen persuaded the Wyoming Legislature to name him the first and had a plaque made to make it official. But the controversy continues. Learn more in Raymond Jacquot’s article “Who First Climbed the Grand?”
Sale of the hot springs
With the buffalo gone and poverty, hunger and disease increasing, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes came under intense pressure in the 1890s to sell their land. 1896, they sold the U.S. government a piece of their reservation ten miles square—including the splendid hot springs at present Thermopolis, Wyo. Read more at the WyoHistory.org article, “When the Tribes Sold the Hot Springs.”
Visit our Wyoming History Day page
The theme for the 2018-2019 competition is “Triumph and Tragedy in History.” The Wyoming History Day contest will be held April 14-15, 2019, and the National History Day competition is slated for June 9-13, 2019.
Teachers, students and others interested in the Wyoming History Day contest, which will be held in Laramie April 14-15, 2019, can find more information--including contest dates and links and Wyoming History Sample Topics--by clicking on the “History Day” tab on the orange bar on the WyoHistory.org home page or by visiting https://www.wyohistory.org/wyoming-history-day.
Central Wyoming History Day Contest Changed to December 2018
The Central Wyoming History Day contest will be held in December rather than March as in previous years. Natrona County School District No. 1 Administrative Specialist Ruth Putnam hopes the earlier date will prompt more students to enter the competition. The contest is now scheduled for Dec. 15, 2018, at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper. If you are interested in volunteering as a judge in the categories of Documentary, Exhibit, Paper, Performance, or Website, contact Putnam as soon as possible at (307) 253-5462 or via email at email@example.com.
Christmas celebrations throughout the state
Historic Governors’ Mansion, 300 East 21st Street, Cheyenne.The annual holiday exhibit,“Tinsel through Time: White Christmas,” continues through December
22, 2018, Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the mansion office at (307) 777-7878 or visit http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/index.php/news-hgm/1463-historic-governors-mansion-tinsel-through-time-exhibit-opens-november-16.
Trail End State Historic Site, 400 Clarendon St., Sheridan, Wyo. Holiday Open House, Dec. 7-9, 2018, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event, a 30-year tradition, features musical performances and seasonal treats like figgy pudding and hot cider as well as a visit from Father Christmas. The open house is hosted by the Trail End Guilds, Inc., at the historic 1913 mansion of Gov. and U.S. Sen. John B. Kendrick. Admission is $2 for adults. Children are admitted free, but must be accompanied by an adult. Last day of the season before the mansion closes for the winter is Dec. 14. For more information, visit http://www.trailend.co/holiday-open-house-1.html, or call (307) 674-4589.
Wyoming Territorial Prison, 975 Snowy Range Rd, Laramie, Wyo.5:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. nightly, now through Dec. 31, 2018. Enjoy the synchronized holiday light and music show by parking in the parking lot, tuning your vehicle radio to 99.5 FM and watching the 10,000 lights and 20 displays change and dance as you listen to seasonal songs and music in your car. For more information, visit “Wyoming Territorial Prison” at http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/index.php/places-to-go/wyoming-territorial-prison and http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/pdf/2018%20WTP%20Holiday%20Light%20and%20Music.pdf.
Brinton Museum, 239 Brinton Road, Big Horn, Wyo. The Brinton 101, annual art show and sale. This event showcases the work of 101 invited artists, repeating each Wednesday through Sunday through Dec. 23, 2018. For more information, call (307) 672-3173, visit https://thebrintonmuseum.orgor see more at “The Brinton 101,” at https://www.travelwyoming.com/event/brinton-101.
Museum of the Mountain Man, 700 East Hennick, Pinedale, Wyo. Annual Wreath and Chocolate Auction, Dec. 7, 2018. Join in the annual fun of the fundraiser for the Sublette County Historical Society and the Museum of the Mountain Man, which includes a live wreath auction and a silent auction for chocolate and gift baskets. To participate in the wreath auction, contact the museum ahead of time at (307) 367-4101or visit https://museumofthemountainman.com/programs/wreath-auction/.
Wyoming Airmail Pioneers, by Starley Talbott and Michael E. Kassel, 110 pages, 2017. The History Press, Arcadia Publishing. Paperback $21.99.
Beginning in 1919 with the Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test to find out how dependable army airplanes were, this book details the edge-of-the-seat stories of such airmail pilots as Jack Knight, “Dinty” Moore, Slim Lewis, Hal Collison and their hair-raising flights through all kinds of weather. Some of the most hazardous flying on the Chicago to San Francisco leg of the U.S. Air Mail Service in the 1920s was across Wyoming; pilots encountered wind, clouds, sudden storms, and looming mountains. In the early days, they had no maps, relying instead on a sketchy guide to direct them from their takeoff point to their destinations.
Pilots looked for identifying markers painted on rooftops at stations on the way, sighted concrete directional arrows that guided them to landing strips and later, for nighttime flights, followed lighted beacons on towers at 25 to 50-mile intervals along the route. Some of the arrows and beacons can still be seen today at places like Medicine Bow, Wyo.
The book offers photographs of many crashes and of several of the pilots who delivered the mail as well as the Curtiss Jennies and de Havilland DH-4 airplanes they flew across the state and the country. One 1926 picture shows a four-horse stagecoach next to biplane during a Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration of the Air Mail and the Overland Stage. Books are available directly from the publisher at https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/, at local bookstores or other online sources.
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The Oregon Trail: Ollie’s Great Adventure, by Melanie Richardson Dundy, with illustrations by Rachael McCoskey, 60 pages, 2011. The informative and easy-to-read children’s story, narrated by Ollie the ox, who travels the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail route in 1843 on a six-month journey with the Tyler family, includes a map that children can learn from, lists of supplies that the Tylers needed for the trip and details about covered wagons. Ollie also shares the spellbinding adventures of climbing and descending steep hills, making dangerous river crossings, and meeting and trading with various Indian tribes. Well-known trail landmarks like Ash Hollow, Courthouse Rock, Chimney Rock, Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate and others are also featured. Additional illustrations include William Henry Jackson watercolors and contemporary photographs of sites along the trail. The Oregon-California Trail Association and the End of the Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City endorsed the book as well. Available for $4.99 in a Kindle version on amazon.com, or from MDCT Publishing at ChildrensBooksByMelanie.com.