Frank Shepperson has ranched with his family northwest of Casper, Wyo., for many years. In this 2014 interview, Shepperson, a former national rodeo champion, talks at length about rodeo, ranching—and airplanes. He is a past president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and former chairman of the Natrona County School Board.
Browse Articles about Agriculture
|Buffalo Bill, Wyoming Town Founder and Irrigation Tycoon||Robert E. Bonner|
|Bureau of Land Management, founding of||Russel L. Tanner|
|Clay, John and the Swan Land and Cattle Company||Rebecca Hein|
|Cody, William F. as Wyoming Town Founder and Irrigation Tycoon||Robert E. Bonner|
|Crow Creek Ranch||Stephanie Lowe|
|Dawes General Allotment Act, 1887||WyoHistory.org|
|Dry Farming||Carl V. Hallberg|
|Eastern Shoshone Tribe, 1905 Land Cession Agreement||WyoHistory.org|
|Ellis, Frank “Pinky” on the sheep business, small-town politics and family life||Casper College Western History Center|
|Empire, Wyoming, African-American community of||Robert Galbreath|
Moncreiffes, Wallops, Careys and other Wyoming dealers offered local stockmen high prices for tens of thousands of horses for British and French markets during the Boer War and World War I. After that war, the U.S. Army expanded its remount service to improve bloodlines for horses for military markets.
In the early 1900s, Jewish families came from eastern cities to Goshen County, Wyo., seeking a better life in the West. They farmed, raised families, founded schools and worshiped in private homes. Many were discouraged by the harsh farm life, however, and nearly all left by the 1930s.
Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin was still largely unsettled in 1900 when irrigation-minded Mormon colonizers from Utah established the towns of Byron and Cowley, expanded Lovell and began digging the Sidon Canal on the Shoshone River. Their influence settled and stabilized a previously lawless part of the state.
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.
Elwood Mead was only 30 in 1888 when Territorial Gov. Thomas Moonlight hired him to bring order to Wyoming’s water law. As territorial engineer Mead did just that, and his ideas were written into the state constitution adopted in 1890. Mead spent only 11 years in Wyoming, but all his life carried with him what he learned in the state.
The vivid, charismatic J. B. Okie raised sheep near Badwater Creek at the turn of the last century, and was so successful he was called “Sheep King.” A businessman with great vision, he soon owned half a dozen stores in small towns in central Wyoming, and eventually an equal number in Mexico. Lost Cabin, Wyo., named for the legendary Lost Cabin Mine, was his base. Okie built an opulent mansion there, a big bunkhouse for employees, bungalows for guests, an office building, a roller rink, a golf course and an aviary full of birds of paradise (left), cockatoos and macaws.
Grass was free and profits enormous in the cattle business in Wyoming Territory — for a while. The business dates to the 1850s, but the boom came after the Union Pacific Railroad connected Wyoming ranges to eastern markets. For a time it seemed as if every investor got rich. Finally, a weakening market and the overstocked range could not withstand two years of drought followed by a terrible winter. The big boom busted, following an economic pattern repeated many times since in an economy still based heavily on natural resources.