People have been leaving carvings and images on Independence Rock in central Wyoming since prehistoric times. When Father De Smet visited in 1841, so many names had already been carved, painted or smeared on the landmark in buffalo grease and gunpowder that he named it the “Great Register of the Desert.” The rock may have been the best-known spot on the emigrant trails, and it remains an enduring symbol of Wyoming's contribution to our nation's heritage and highest ideals.
Historic Spots & Monuments
Browse Articles about Historic Spots & Monuments
|Ice Slough, Oregon Trail landmark||WyoHistory.org|
|Independence Rock||Will Bagley|
|Indian Citizenship Expedition, 1913||Johanna Wickman|
|Ingram, Elva, pioneer grave of||Randy Brown|
|Jensen, Henry, oral history||Dana Van Burgh|
|Johnson County, Wyoming||Brodie Farquhar|
|Kading, Joye Oral History||Casper College Western History Center|
|Kelly-Larimer Wagon Train, 1864 attack on||WyoHistory.org|
|Kendrick Mansion||Cynde Georgen|
Historic Spots & Monuments
In November 1876, about 700 cavalry and 400 Indian scouts led by Col. Ranald Mackenzie, burned the main village of the Northern Cheyenne to the ground near the Red Fork of Powder River about 20 miles west of present Kaycee, Wyo. Seven soldiers were killed and about 40 Cheyenne, but the economic and cultural loss to the tribe was devastating. The Northern Cheyenne surrendered to government authorities the following spring.
In March 1866, when whites and Indians together at Fort Laramie mourned the death of Mni Akuwin, daughter of Spotted Tail, chief of the Brulé Lakota, a colonel at the post hoped it was a sign of peace between the peoples. Peace hopes were shattered later that spring however, by the arrival of hundreds of troops to build forts on the Bozeman Trail, and two more years of bitter warfare followed. Finally in 1868, the tribes of the northern plains gathered at the fort and signed a treaty, ending the war—for a while.
Wyoming gets its name from a green valley in northeast Pennsylvania originally purchased from the Iroquois by a Connecticut land company. An Ohio congressman in 1865 first proposed the name—but later, after he saw our dry, wide plains, he wasn’t so sure he’d had the right idea.
Noted western historian Will Bagley, drawing on the work of Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and conservationist Wallace Stegner, offers a passionate plea for the preservation of South Pass, a crucial site for the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled the Oregon, California and Mormon trails.
The Casper Army Air Base was built quickly in 1942 to train bomber crews for World War II combat. The facility trained more than 16,000 men before the end of the war. Its population grew to a third of the size of Casper’s, bringing prosperity and a lively social life to the town. The base closed in 1945, when the war ended.
In 1943, Cpl. Leon Tebbetts and three other soldier-artists were among the thousands of troops stationed at the U.S. Army Air Base in Casper. They created 15 murals showing major events in Wyoming history on the interior walls of the Servicemen’s Club. The colorful murals have been well preserved and can still be seen today at the same place—now the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum.
From 1942 through most of 1945, about 10,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of United States lived behind barbed wire in tarpaper barracks at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell, Wyo. in Park County—one of ten such camps around the nation during World War II. The center was briefly Wyoming’s third-largest town. When hundreds of young men in the camp were drafted into the U.S. military, 63 resisted, feeling they had been denied their constitutional rights. They and seven more leaders of the group were sentenced to federal prison. In the 1980s, Congress passed a law granting an apology and $20,000 to every survivor of the camps.
Originally established as the Wyoming Insane Asylum by the Wyoming Territorial Legislature in 1886, the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston opened in 1889 and operates today on the same site. The institution evolved and the campus was built according to trends in psychiatric thought and therapeutic practices. Notable among its superintendents was Dr. C.H. Solier, who ran the hospital from 1891 to 1930, and successfully deflected allegations of patient abuse in the 1920s.
Two battles on July 26, 1865 near Platte Bridge Station near present-day Casper, Wyo., are best understood in the context of tribal response to the Sand Creek Massacre the previous November. Twenty-eight U.S. troops were killed that day including Lt. Caspar Collins, for whom Fort Caspar and the town of Casper were later named.