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Historic Spots & Monuments

John Wesley Powell: Explorer, Thinker, Scientist and Bureaucrat

In 1869 and 1871, John Wesley Powell led two expeditions from Wyoming Territory down the Green and Colorado rivers. These and other explorations brought him to a profound understanding of how the West’s aridity limits its economic prospects. He directed the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881-1894, and his ideas still affect land and water policy today. 

Touring the Reservations: the 1913 American Indian Citizenship Expedition

In 1913, department-store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker and photographer Joseph Dixon hatched the idea of a statue of an American Indian in New York harbor higher than the Statue of Liberty—as a memorial to what they saw as a “vanishing race.” Dixon subsequently toured and photographed 89 Indian reservations—including Wyoming’s Shoshone Reservation—leaving a valuable record.

The Grave of Nancy Hill

On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera while bound for California in 1852. The gravestone, though old, is not original and part of the inscription—“Killed by Indians—” for many years misled locals about the cause of her death.

Church Butte

In 1843, Oregon Trail diarist John Boardman was probably the first to make reference Church Butte near present Granger, Wyo., calling it “Solomon’s Temple.” In the 1850s, most emigrants referred to the landmark as Church Butte, because of its shape and perhaps because Mormon companies held religious services there on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. 

Haystack Butte

Not many diarists mentioned Haystack Butte, a minor landmark on the Sublette Cutoff of the Oregon/California Trail, but forty-niner J. Goldsborough Bruff sketched it in his journal. Some remarked that the 60-foot-high butte resembled “a farmer’s hay stack;” others called it called it “a bee-hive” or “sugar-loaf.”

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Encyclopedia | In 1869 and 1871, John Wesley Powell led two expeditions from Wyoming Territory down the Green and Colorado rivers. These and other explorations brought him to a profound understanding of how the West’s aridity limits its economic prospects. He directed the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881-1894, and his ideas still affect land and water policy today. 
Encyclopedia | 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. In 1896, they sold the U.S. government a piece of their reservation ten miles square—including the splendid hot springs at present Thermopolis, Wyo.
Encyclopedia | In 1913, department-store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker and photographer Joseph Dixon hatched the idea of a statue of an American Indian in New York harbor higher than the Statue of Liberty—as a memorial to what they saw as a “vanishing race.” Dixon subsequently toured and photographed 89 Indian reservations—including Wyoming’s Shoshone Reservation—leaving a valuable record.
Encyclopedia | In 1885, long before he was known as the Father of the National Park System, naturalist John Muir first visited Yellowstone. The sojourn matured him as a writer and thinker, gradually articulating the idea that nature was worth protecting not merely for its resources—but for its holistic self.  
Encyclopedia | Alfred Corum, bound for California in 1849 with two dozen other Missouri men, died on July 4 on the Sublette Cutoff in present western Wyoming. His brother and five other men stayed behind to bury him, deeply saddened on what otherwise would have been a day of celebration. 
Encyclopedia | On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera while bound for California in 1852. The gravestone, though old, is not original and part of the inscription—“Killed by Indians—” for many years misled locals about the cause of her death.
Encyclopedia | Emigrant Spring, west of the Green River on the Slate Creek Cutoff of the Oregon Trail, offered pioneer travelers cold, clear water, plentiful grass for their livestock and plenty of sagebrush for their cooking fires. And the sandstone bluffs above the spring made a natural bulletin board where thousands carved their names.
Encyclopedia | When troops of the U.S. 11th Infantry arrived at their new post, Fort D.A. Russell, near Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1904, they brought with them two church bells—war trophies of recent bitter fighting in the Philippines. The Bells of Balangiga still stand at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. 

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