The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Preservation and politics

Preservation and politics

May 2019

This month, we feature two stories about preservation in natural settings that are special and revered—for very different reasons.  

One president’s fishing trip

Chester A. Arthur, the first president to visit Yellowstone, traveled there in 1883 by stage and horseback from the railroad at Green River through the Shoshone Reservation and Jackson Hole. The trip generated political pressure to preserve the park in its natural state—and to stave off commercial development. Read more in historian Dick Blust, Jr.’s article The President Arthur Expedition: The Fishing Trip That Helped Save Yellowstone.

Medicine Wheel

The Bighorn Medicine Wheel and its surrounding landscapes on Medicine Mountain in the northern Bighorns make up one of the most important Native American sacred sites in the United States. Twenty years of compromise and conflict on how best to preserve the place involved several governmental agencies and elders representing 16 tribes. Learn more in Fred Chapman’s article “Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain: Celebrated and Controversial Landmark.”

Union Pacific Steam Engines Heritage Tour—May 2019

Two Union Pacific steam engines, the No. 844 “Living Legend” and the No. 4014 “Big Boy,” the world’s only operating Big Boy locomotive, will make stops in a string of Wyoming towns throughout the month of May. “The Great Ogden Race” celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The locomotives will be christened at the UP depot in Cheyenne, Wyo., at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019, after which they depart for Ogden, Utah, where they are scheduled to arrive on May 9. Stops will include Laramie, Medicine Bow, Rawlins, Wamsutter, Rock Springs, Green River, Granger and Evanston. Beginning Sunday, May 12, the locomotives will make the return trip, arriving back in Cheyenne May 19.  See times and durations for all the stops at the 2019 Union Pacific Steam Schedule.

Timely Books!

The Mormon Handcart Migration: “Tounge nor pen can never tell the sorrow,” by Candy Moulton. 296 pages, University of Oklahoma Press, 2019. Cloth, $29.95. In 1856, many Mormons traveled to Salt Lake City to settle in Utah, braving not only an ocean passage but also a treacherous path across the Great Plains, through what is now Wyoming, pulling and pushing their belongings in two-wheeled handcarts. While most survived, more than 200 died. The Martin and Willie companies, starting west from Nebraska in late August, met with catastrophe in central Wyoming when, running out of food, they encountered bitter cold and snows. Moulton, an award-winning writer and historian, traveled the trail herself in 1997 as part of the Mormon Trail Sesquicentennial Wagon Train, and she shares her experiences and insights as well as using journals, diaries and letters of those who made the perilous journey 150 years before. She includes appendices that list the members of the handcart companies. The book can be ordered directly from the publisher by calling 800-848-6224, ext.1, or by visiting oupress.com or at bookstores or through other online sources. 

For more on these events, see Annette Hein’s WyoHistory.org article Journey to Martin’s Cove: The Mormon Handcart Tragedy of 1856.