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Historic Spots & Monuments

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Historic Spots & Monuments

Alcova Dam and Reservoir

Alcova Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, was completed in 1937. The reservoir opened in 1938 and a power plant was completed in 1955. The $20 million dam project didn’t achieve the high expectations of immense wealth that were forecast at the time of its inception, but continues to provide irrigation water for farmers and ranchers and generates hydropower for the area. Alcova Reservoir offers fishing, boating, camping and swimming opportunities for visitors.

Lincoln County, Wyoming

Created in 1911 and named for President Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln County is perhaps best known for its extraordinary geological history, showcased at Fossil Butte National Monument. The county seat, Kemmerer, Wyo., is the site of the first store opened by James Cash Penney, founder of J. C. Penney & Co., a business that still operates nationally today. Agriculture, mining and oil and gas industries continue to spur the county’s economy.

Trail End State Historic Site

Trail End, the mansion home of cattleman, banker and politician John B. Kendrick, was completed on a hilltop overlooking Sheridan, Wyo. in 1913, 16 months before Kendrick was elected governor. Kendrick later served three terms in the U.S. Senate and died in 1933. The Kendrick family continued to use the house until 1961. In 1968, the Sheridan County Historical Society bought the building, and in 1982 transferred ownership to the state, which operates the 14,000-square-foot mansion now as a state historic site.

Protestant Missionaries Cross South Pass

As the beaver trade waned in the 1830s, so did economic reasons for an American toehold in the Oregon country, still under joint British-American occupancy. Religion shifted the balance of power, however, when American Protestant missionaries crossed the Rocky Mountains with an eye toward converting the tribes of the Northwest. Soon these men brought their wives with them as well. In 1836, Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding were the first Euro-American women to cross South Pass, and these people became the vanguard of American settlement of Oregon.

Johnson County, Wyoming

The history of Johnson County, Wyo., features a number of violent conflicts that influenced the heritage of the West. The Fetterman and Wagon Box fights were important conflicts in the Indian wars of the 1860s, while the infamous 1892 Johnson County War erupted because of tensions among cattle barons, homesteaders and rustlers. Johnson County’s economy today continues to thrive on tourism, ranching and oil and gas.

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Encyclopedia | Shoshone Cavern National Monument near Cody was established in 1909 but delisted after 53 years, turned over to the City of Cody and renamed Spirit Mountain Caverns. Maintaining the site proved too difficult for local concessionaires, however. In 1977, the spot was returned to federal ownership and is now managed by the BLM.
Encyclopedia | Emigrants bound for Oregon or California in the 1860s on the government-built Lander Trail faced serious dangers crossing the New Fork River, as they usually had to do so at high water. Recently the site has been developed into an attractive historical park in Sublette County in western Wyoming.
Encyclopedia | Westbound emigrants in the Sweetwater Valley on the Oregon Trail saw the distinctive gunsight notch of Split Rock and “steered to this cliff with a steadiness that was astonishing,” according to one diarist. The landmark stands 11 miles west of Devil’s Gate and about 75 miles east of South Pass. 
Encyclopedia | Mountain men established a ferry across the Green River in 1843. Mormons bought it in 1850, when it became known as the Green River Mormon Ferry. Tens of thousands of emigrants crossed the river here. When William Lombard took over the business in 1889, it became known as the Lombard Ferry. 
Encyclopedia | Scout, guide, ferryman, freighter and stockman Jim Baker trapped with Jim Bridger and Kit Carson in the 1830s, guided troops in the 1850s and briefly ran a ferry over the Green River. In 1873, built a cabin near the Little Snake River in southern Wyoming, where he died in 1898. 
Encyclopedia | Devil’s Gate on the Sweetwater River became an important landmark for emigrants on the Oregon/California/Mormon trails. Trader Charles Lajeunesse ran a post there in the 1850s, not long before a Mormon handcart company sought shelter from a blizzard at nearby Matins Cove. Later, the famous Sun Ranch was headquartered there for 125 years.
Encyclopedia | Civil engineer, librarian, athlete, professor and historian, Grace Hebard gained early power at the University of Wyoming, serving on its board of trustees and later its faculty over a 40-year career. Though many scholars now question her scholarship, she remains best known for her books on Wyoming’s past. 
Oral Histories | Joye Kading served as secretary for the successive commanding colonels in charge of purchasing, building and operating the Casper Army Air Base during World War II. In this 2011 interview from the Casper College Western History Center, Kading recalls her experiences and describes many of the wartime photographs she collected in a scrapbook.

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