Buffalo Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Buffalo, Wyoming, continued, Jim Gatchell, Bozeman Trail

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About This Site

Buffalo, 1909, photo published by T. J. Gatchell

Theodore James "Jim" Gatchell (1872-1954) was a pharmacist in Buffalo, establishing his drugstore in 1900 after completing his apprenticeship at Edelman's Drug Store in Sheridan. In Buffalo he became friends with the famed scout Frank Grouard. Grouard taught Gatchell Sioux. Gatchell became friends with the Sioux who presented him with many artifacts, including a Winchester rifle used at the Little Bighorn. These items form the basis of the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo.

Buffalo, 1910

While the Occidental Hotel takes great pride in Owen Wister's immortalization of its facility, overlooked is Wister's description of the town in his 1891 journal: "June 17: The town of Buffalo of course, is something beyond words ... a general litter of paltry wood houses back to side to back at all angles seem to have been brought and dumped out of a weelbarrow."

Besides Gatchell, other early businessmen who came included Ed O'Malley who ran an establishment known as the "Six Mile Ranch." O'Malley moved his establishment into Buffalo where he operated under the name of the "Lone Star." The Lone Star was located about where the Johnson County Courthouse is now located. Another early saloon was the Cow Boy Saloon next door to the Echo newspaper and printing office.

Cow Boy Saloon, 1890's

Buffalo, approx. 1930

The Bozeman Trail leading from Ft. Laramie to Virginia City was regarded as a part of the Great North Trail, a loose collection of trails leading from New Mexico along the eastern side of the Rockies to Canada. Portions of the Trail were laid out in the Reynolds Expedition discussed in Photos II. In 1863, John M. Bozeman, attempted to trace the trail but was turned back by Sioux near present day Buffalo. The following year four wagon trains went through from Fort Caspar, but in 1865, the Trail was closed but it was again reopened to emigrant use in 1866. The military crossing was at the present City with the emigrant crossing about a mile south. Following the Fetterman fight of July 21, 1866, the trail was again closed to non-military use. [For a linked map of the Bozeman Trail click here. Use browser back button to return.] Nevertheless, some civilians continued to attempt to use the Trail. Bozeman, himself was killed in the Spring of 1867 in a skirmish with the Blackfeet near the Yellowstone River in one such attempt.

Following the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie the trail was closed to all use until the 1870's when, as depicted in the following photos it became an important route into Powder River Country from the South.

Freight Train, Buffalo, Wyo. 1884. Note use of tandem wagons.

As discussed with regard to the Indian Wars, in 1866, Ft. Phil Kearney was established 225 miles from Ft. Laramie, at the Piney Tributary of the Powder River. Almost immedately it came under seige by the Sioux under the leadership of Makhipiya Luta, Red Cloud, and remained so all Summer and Fall. On December 26, 1866, a wood train came under attack only six miles out from the fort. Capt. Wm. J. Fetterman, Brevet Lt. Col. during the Civil War, boasting that with 80 men he could go through the entire Sioux Nation, volunteered to lead a relief unit. Disobeying Col. Carrington's orders, he allowed himself to be lured across Lodge Trail Ridge where his entire unit of 80 men were ambushed and killed along with two civilians who went along to test two new Henry repeating rifles. The infantry were equipped with inferior muzzle-loading Springfields and the cavalry with Spenser carbines.

Freight Train, Buffalo, early 1900's

It has been alleged that the reason the road through Buffalo has a bend in it relates to Conrad's store noted on the previous page. The store was originally off the beaten path so to speak. Freight for Fort McKinney was handled by George Washbaugh. John Conrad supposedly offered Washbaugh a new suit of clothes if he would run his bull trains past the store. Thus, Main Street has a bend in it. Note the addition of telephone and electric lines. Compare this photo with ones above and the newer scenes of Buffalo below. Early electric companies in many areas were an outgrowth of other businesses which had to generate electricity for their own use. Thus, in some areas the first electric companies may have been an ice plant or a street railway. As indicated by the next photo, in Buffalo electricity was provided by the milling company.

Milling and Electric Company, undated

The electric plant, milling company and water works were constructed in 1886 by George W. T. Beck.

Buffalo, 1910

The offices with the striped awning are those of the Buffalo Voice newspaper. The paper changed its name in 1925 to the News and in 1926 merged with The Bulletin.

Buffalo, 1960's. Compare with 1900 photo above, left.

While in most areas, the Bozeman Trail is not very visible, traces may be seen at Crazy Woman Crossing, south of Buffalo.