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Outlaws & Crime

The Spring Creek Raid: The Last Murderous Sheep Raid in the Big Horn Basin

On April 2, 1909, seven cowmen attacked a sheep camp near Spring Creek in the southern Big Horn Basin. The raiders killed three men, kidnapped two others, killed sheep dogs and dozens of sheep and destroyed thousands of dollars of personal property. It was the deadliest sheep raid in Wyoming history. Unlike many previous incidents after which raiders went unpunished, however, prosecutors this time were successful and five raiders were jailed, marking the end of 15 years or more of violence between cattle- and sheepmen.

The Johnson County War: 1892 Invasion of Northern Wyoming

In April 1892, a private army of 52 cattle barons, their employees and hired Texas guns invaded Johnson County in northern Wyoming, intending to kill as many as 70 men they suspected of being rustlers or rustler sympathizers. The invaders managed to kill two men before word got out, and they were surrounded by an angry posse. Troops from nearby Fort McKinney intervened. The invaders were escorted back to Cheyenne, where they were charged but never brought to trial. The event ended in ambiguity and political division in the new state of Wyoming.

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.

The Murder of Matthew Shepard

University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was openly gay, was brutally beaten in October 1998 by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Shepard died several days later. The incident received international media coverage and continues to spark controversy about hate crimes. Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, established a foundation in Matthew’s name, which continues its pro-LGBT educational work today.

Butch Cassidy in Wyoming

Notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch frequently crossed and hid out in Wyoming when on the run from the law. Cassidy’s 18-month incarceration at the Wyoming State Prison in Laramie, 1894-1896, is a definite fact. Other than that, stories place him and his gang all over the map, from Sundance to Brown’s Hole, and Powder Wash near Baggs to Hole in the Wall near Kaycee. Stories persist as well that Cassidy returned to Wyoming decades after his reported death in Bolivia in 1908, but no hard evidence has yet turned up.

Crook County, Wyoming

What’s now Crook County, Wyo., was crossed by Custer in 1874 on his expedition to the Black Hills, the spark that led to the final struggles of the Indian wars on the northern plains. Ranchers a few years later brought in cattle and later, sheep, and the county was organized in 1885, with its county seat at Sundance. Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid, spent 18 months in jail there. Coal deposits were exploited in the 1890s and shipped by rail to gold smelters in nearby Lead and Deadwood, So. Dak. Devils Tower National Monument, established in 1906 as the first national monument in the United States and still a sacred place for the Sioux, is located in Crook County. Agriculture, mining and timbering still play significant roles in its economy.

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Encyclopedia | Train robber and confessed murderer Big Nose George Parrott was lynched in downtown Rawlins, Wyo. in 1881, after he tried to break out of jail. Later, local physician and future Wyoming Gov. Dr. John Osborne had a pair of shoes made from the outlaw’s skin.
Oral Histories | Jamie Buckley King attended third grade at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Tina Cook was the secretary at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | LeaKae Roberts was a fourth-grader who was absent from class at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took 154 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Carol Petersen was teaching second grade at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo. on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Public Works Director and Fireman Kevin Walker is the father of three young children who attended Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took his children and 151 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Janel Dayton was teaching first grade at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside the school. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Certified Bomb Technician Rich Haskell was attending a basketball game in Rock Springs, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took 154 people hostage at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., and detonated a bomb inside. Haskell raced to the scene, driving so fast that he ruined his car’s engine. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.

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