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Historic Spots & Monuments

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Title Author
Hot Springs, at Thermopolis, Wyo., sale of by Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes WyoHistory.org
Hotel LaBonte Stephanie Lowe
Hotel Wolf Lori Van Pelt
Hotel, Mountain View Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office
Huxtable Ranch Stephanie Lowe
Hyart Theatre Stephanie Lowe
Ice Slough, Oregon Trail landmark WyoHistory.org
Independence Rock Will Bagley
Indian Citizenship Expedition, 1913 Johanna Wickman
Ingram, Elva, pioneer grave of Randy Brown

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Historic Spots & Monuments

Separate Lands for Separate Tribes: The Horse Creek Treaty of 1851

In 1850, the U.S. Congress authorized a conference to persuade Plains Indian tribes to live and hunt within newly designated, separate territories, and to accept payment for the damage caused by emigrants crossing their lands. The conference in September 1851 drew 10,000 Indians to the confluence of Horse Creek and the North Platte River, 30 miles east of Fort Laramie. The treaty that was signed there, the Horse Creek Treaty of 1851, permanently changed the terms of Indian-white relations on the northern Great Plains.

J. B. Okie, Sheep King of Central Wyoming

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.

South Pass

Award-winning historian Will Bagley explains that without South Pass and the easy grade it offered to early transcontinental travelers, the history of the United States would have been much different. Hundreds of thousands of people made the crossing in the mid-1800s, following the trail blazed in 1812 by Robert Stuart and the Astorians. In 1836, missionaries Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding became the first women to travel across South Pass. Today, markers at the summit commemorate the pioneers, the wide expanse of land and sky looks much as it did in pioneer times and “the West,” as Bagley notes, still “opens up for anyone who stands at South Pass.”

The Dull Knife Fight, 1876: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River

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.

Independence Rock

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.

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.

Painting Wyoming's Past: The Casper Army Air Base Servicemen's Club Murals

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.

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Encyclopedia | On a jittery night in 1864, a lone warrior stole three horses from a California-bound wagon train west of present Glenrock, Wyo. Early next morning, emigrant Martin Ringo died from an accidental gunshot. His grave is still there, on private land. Johnny Ringo, his son, was later a famous outlaw. 
Encyclopedia | The trapper and guide Kit Carson traversed what’s now Wyoming dozens of times. Of one of those trips we have a close account—1842, when the careful, competent Carson guided a brash young Lt. John C. Frémont of the Topographical Engineers up the old fur-trade route to South Pass.
Encyclopedia | A fountain and a mural on the University of Wyoming campus memorialize events surrounding the 1922 death of UW student Lowell O’Bryan, who died after being bucked off a horse while preparing a “cowboy welcome” for incoming UW President Arthur Crane.
Oral Histories | Oleta Thomas often visited the Heart Mountain relocation camp as a teenager during World War II, when her father had a job there. In this 2012 interview she remembers those times and later ones as a home ec teacher in 1950s Cody and a massage therapist in Casper since the 1980s.                    
Encyclopedia | The Mountain View Hotel was an integral part of the settlement of the Centennial Valley at the foot of the Medicine Bow Mountains, about 25 miles west of Laramie. With strong ties to mining, railroad, and early tourism endeavors, the building has remained in service in numerous income-producing capacities for more than a century.
Oral Histories | Former sheepherder, ranch foreman and schoolteacher Henry Jensen was past president of Wyoming’s historical and archeological societies. One day in the early 1990s he and Casper science teachers Dana Van Burgh and Terry Logue drove southwest from Casper to Devil’s Gate, noting all kinds of geology, archeology and history along the way. 
Encyclopedia | Weather conditions and a “let-burn” natural fire policy in Yellowstone National Park resulted in the massive 1988 fires that blackened 683,000 acres of land. Recovery has been quicker and better than many expected, however, and lessons from the conflagration help guide the park’s fire policy today. 
Encyclopedia | Mixed-race families in early Wyoming appear to have sold oil skimmed from seeps to travelers on the emigrant trails, who used the oil to lubricate their wagon axles. It was a small start for what has become the huge petroleum business, so important to Wyoming today.

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