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People & Peoples

Moon Shadows over Wyoming: The Solar Eclipses of 1878, 1889 and 1918

Three total solar eclipses have crossed Wyoming since territorial times—in 1878, 1889 and 1918. Two in particular drew prominent astronomers and scientific discoveries. These are especially interesting now, with the August 21, 2017 eclipse likely to draw huge crowds to a very different Wyoming from the one that last saw moon shadows in daytime.

The Grave of Ephraim Brown

Out of nearly 200 people who died from murder or other homicides on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, only one lies in a grave with a known location. Missourian Ephraim Brown, a leading figure on a wagon train bound for California, was killed near South Pass in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute. Details, however—who killed him, why and how—are frustratingly sketchy.

Big Sandy Crossing

The main branch of the Oregon Trail crossed the Big Sandy River at present Farson, Wyo. State Highway 28 running southwest from Farson continues to parallel the route. Swales are often visible alongside the highway, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left.

Rocky Ridge

Their wagons lurching over sharp boulders up a steep grade, westbound emigrants found a particularly difficult stretch of trail about 40 miles east of South Pass. The late-starting Willie Company of Mormons pulling handcarts suffered terribly here in 1856. For many, the end of the journey was a grave.

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Encyclopedia | In 1909, Percy Metz, 23 years old and recently elected Big Horn County attorney, helped prosecute five men for their murderous roles in the Spring Creek Raid. The case made his reputation; he became a district judge at 29 and spent a long and successful life in the law.
Encyclopedia | In 1913, Buffalo Bill joined Prince Albert I of Monaco—the first reigning monarch ever to visit the United States—on a big-game hunt east of Yellowstone National Park. Both were at points in their lives where they badly needed good publicity—and they got it.
Encyclopedia | Trapper, ferryman, hunting guide and Mexican War veteran Beaver Dick Leigh lived an active and colorful life on both sides of the Tetons in the mid and late 19th century. Leigh, Jenny and Beaver Dick—now String—lakes in Jackson Hole are named for him and for his first wife, an Eastern Shoshone from Washakie’s band.
Encyclopedia | On Oct. 5, 1857, a band of Mormon militia attacked U.S. Army supply wagons at Simpson’s Hollow west of what’s now Farson, Wyo., burning 26 wagons and stampeding army mules. The army was advancing on Utah to enforce federal law there, and the Mormons resisted—all part of the bloodless Utah War.
Encyclopedia | Wealthy artist, hunter and conservationist A.A. Anderson was named superintendent of the new Yellowstone Forest Reserve in 1902. His love for wildlife habitat clashed with local timber and grazing interests, however, and, after much controversy, he lost his job. Wyoming and the nation might have benefitted if he’d found a way to bridge that gap.
Encyclopedia | The lure of the the California Gold Rush led even a prosperous wagonmaker like Daniel Lantz of Centreville, Ind. to try his luck. But on the trail in what’s now southwestern Wyoming, illness struck him. Months later, his wife and five children at home learned he never made it through.
Encyclopedia | Three total solar eclipses have crossed Wyoming since territorial times—in 1878, 1889 and 1918. Two in particular drew prominent astronomers and scientific discoveries. These are especially interesting now, with the August 21, 2017 eclipse likely to draw huge crowds to a very different Wyoming from the one that last saw moon shadows in daytime.
Encyclopedia | Out of nearly 200 people who died from murder or other homicides on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, only one lies in a grave with a known location. Missourian Ephraim Brown, a leading figure on a wagon train bound for California, was killed near South Pass in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute. Details, however—who killed him, why and how—are frustratingly sketchy.

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