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Tales and Trails

Big Horn Basin Black Hills Buffalo Cambria Casper Cattle Drives Centennial Cheyenne Chugwater Cody Encampment Evanston Deadwood Stage Douglas Dubois Ft. Bridger Ft. Fetterman Ft. Laramie Frontier Days Ghost Towns Gillette G. River F. V. Hayden Tom Horn Jackson Kemmerer Lander Laramie Lincoln Highway Lusk Meeteetse Medicine Bow N. Platte Valley Photos V Rawlins Rock Springs Rudafeha Mine Sheepherding Sheridan Sherman Shoshoni Superior Thermopolis USS Wyoming Yellowstone

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September 22, 2018,

Brands, Powder River Cattle Company

Recent additions in the Chapter on Cattle Trails include a number of pages on spectacular failures of three of the largest ranches on the western Great Plains: Moreton Frewen's Powder River Cattle Company, the "76;" Richard Frewen's "Circle Bar;" and the failure of the Francklyn land Company a portion of which became a part of the famed N bar N. The failure of Moreton Frewen earned for him the nickname "Mortal Ruin."

Brands of Richard Frewen's Dakota Stock and Grazing Company, the "Circle Bar."

Roundup on the Big Dry, 1886.

By 1886, the N bar N had units in Saskatchewan. Texas, and on the Big Dry in Montana. The Francklyn land Company owned by the grandson of Sir Samuel Cunard founder of the Cunard Lines. Money for the Francklyn operations had been provided by the Cunard and Balfour families. Charles G. Francklyn was, to say the least, extravagant with his family's money, perhaps putting even Moreton Frewen to shame. It became necessary for Arthur Balfour, later Prime Minister, himself to travel to Texas. Balfour fired the ranch's manager, Col. B. B. Groom, and recommended that the ranch be put into receivership. Groom was described as "a pompous Kentucky Colonel who treated cowboys as if they were stableboys * * *." When the Francklyn company was organized, it purchased 40,000 head with which to stock the range. It was the largest single sale of cattle at the time in the history of the Unted States. When Francklyn operations were liquidated, only 6,000 head could be found. The losses were believed to have been excess of $3,000,000 when in those days $3,000,000 was real money.

Jim Kid, photo by C. D. Kirkland.

Before movies, beginning about 1884 with the creation of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, "Wild West" shows such as the Wild West, Pawnee Bill's or the Miller Brothers' 101, criss-crossed the country. 101. The stars of such shows were "real cowboys." Today, we remember Colonel Cody and maybe cowboys Will Pickett and maybe Yakima Canutt. The others are for the most part forgotten. From 1884 with the formation of Colonel Cody's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders for about twenty-two years one of the most popular of the real cowboys was James Willoughby, "Jim Kid."

Kid grew up on the prairies outside of Cheyenne along Crow Creek. In his early teens he becamse a range rider for the "Y Cross" along Horse Creek above Pine Bluffs and riding for F. E. Warren along Bear Creek north of Cheyenne. He was employed by Col. Cody after becoming Champion Bronco Rider of Montana. By 1910, the days of wild west shows were fading. He ended up with his cowpony "Joe" working as extras in silent movies for $5.00 a day for the two.

In 1916, Kid was mainly forgotten. He died with only fifty cents to his name. His old pals began to pass the hat, but Douglas Fairbanks said, in essence, "No boys, I will pay for it." The old cowboys came out. It was the biggest funeral that Hollywood had seen. The cortege was led by Fairbanks and an old ex-train robber from Oklahoma. Kid's last wish was to be buried on the prairie outside of Cheyenne.

Jim's cowpony Joe and cowboys bid Jim Goodbye at the Los Angeles Railway Station.

In Cheyenne, the Frontier Days Committee made arrangements. Kid's gear was also sent to Cheyenne. Several years later, the gear in its packing was found in the basement of the Plains Hotel. It was sent over to the Capitol Building and placed in a position of honor near the door to Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross's office. About 1925, some cowboys working as extras on a movie being filmed outside of Cheyenne stopped by Kid's grave. They passed the hat amongst themselves and raised funds for a suitable grave marker. They knew that if they asked, any number of movies stars would have paid for the marker. They wanted personally to honor one of their own. Some 600 miles away, in northern Oklahoma there is another grave marker for Kid's former wife, a sharp shooter who had performed for the Miller Brothers' 101. Many say that she was better than Annie Oakley. In 1999, some old timers from the 101 raised funds for her marker. Read about the two at Jim Kid and Lillian Frances Smith..

August 23, 2017.

An editorial from the Cody Wyoming Dispatch, June 27, 1902.

March, 2017.

The launching of the Schooner Wyoming

Beginning about 1907, a group of Wyoming investors led by Governor Bryant B. Brooks invested in the construction and operation of a series of ships constructed in New England. The investments culminated in the launching of the World's largest wooden ship (gross tonnage and in length), the Schooner Wyoming which saw service in North and South America and during World War I in Europe and as far away as East Africa. The ship was even larger than the Emperor Caligula's giant ship which reputedly transported the St. Peter's Square obelisk from Egypt to Rome. Read about the giant Schooner Wyoming, Schooner Governor Brooks and the smaller Schooner Washakie in the chapter on ships named "Wyoming".

February, 2017.

Iowa Flats Advertisement.

Beginning in 1909 many farmers from Iowa and Nebraska were attracted by glowing reports to Iowa Flats, so called as a result of the number persons from Iowa who settled in the area. Foremost among them was former Iowa school teacher Robert A.Kletzing. Mr. Kletzing published a pamphlet extolling the vitues of Iowa Flats. In Iowa, Kletzing was a bankrupt. He was one of the first to leave Iowa Flats. Beginning in 1911 droughts hit the area. Today, the area is fairly well deserted. New pages have been added to the pages devoted to dry farming tracing the rise and fall of the flat.

November 2016

Advance Near Mandaloyan, 1899

The Spanish-American War and the Phillipine Insurection were the first foreign war in which the Wyoming National Guard Participated. In addition to the Guard, a Volunteer Company known as Torrey's Rocky Mountain Rough Riders raised volunteers from Colorado and Utah. In a series of more than 50 images the movements of Torrey's Rought Riders are traced. Torrey's Rought Riders never reached Cuba have been delayed by a train wreck at Tupelo and their encampment at Pablo Beach. The Wyoming National Guard's movements are traced from Cheyenne to San Francisco, to Manila, Cavite and through the nine months of the Philippine Insurection. The Guard is remembered by a statue, "Taking the Oath" on the Capitol lawn. Those that died are also honored at F. E. Warren Air Force Base by a set of bells.

Altman's wholesale and retail liquor store on first floor of the Commercial Block with the wooden Indian in fromt, approx. 1890.

Addtions have been made to the Sheridan Pages as to Big Horn City and the coming of Polo to Wyoming. An additional ten pages have been added to the Cheyenne Pages covering the immediate downtown historic Section of Cheyenne including the Commercial Block, the Tivoli Building, the Metropolitan Hotel, Atlas Theatre, the Phoenix Block (which housed at different times the Normandie Hotel, the Edwards Hotel and currently the Wrangler) the Union Pacific Depot, Park and Plaza, and finally the move of passenger service to Borie ten miles out of town.

Remains of Amtrak Passenger Station, Borie (West Cheyenne), Wyoming. Courtesy Wikipedia

September, 2015

Casper Mountain, Winter, 1930's.

Looming over Casper to its south lies Casper Mountain. In its formative years, Casper attributed its early growth to wool and petroleum. Additional material has been added as to Casper as a center of the wool industry. Additonally, Hope sprang that Casper would also gain wealth from the minerals on Casper Mountain. At first the hope lay with copper, but as discussed elsewhere on this site, the copper boom in Wyoming went bust. In distant Quebec fortunes were made from the miracle mineral asbestos. Indeed, it was said that the Great Khan himself owned a table cloth made of the astounding material. Lightweight, fireproof and with the ability to spun into a light silken-like cloth, the development of Asbestos mines on Casper Mountain held great promise. A former blacksmith and insurance salesman, A. E. Minium, held out hopes of great wealth in his development with visions of mills turning out the fiber. The ore, he said, would be carried down the mountain on an aerial tramway. The dream lasted about two years. Eight years later Minium turned up in Globe, Arizona, again promising riches with the ore being carried from otherwise inaccesible mines to Globe by derigibles. After a brief fling as a millionaire, he ended his days in a cheap boarding house in Denver.

The hope continued that asbestos would make a comeback until it was discovered that the asbestos had another atribute, it caused asbestosis and mesothelioma. Rather than a stampede to Casper Mountain, Quebec and Globe, Arizona, in recent years the only stampede has been to the courts by lawyers hoping to cash in the bankruptcy of asbestos mining and processing companies. Read about it in our Casper pages.

July 2015

Troughs from a Lambing Camp, Sweetwater County, 1907.

Following the fading of the large cattle companies in the 1890's, Wyoming turned more and more to wool production. The expanision of the Chapter on sheepherding noted below has continued. See Sheep . Newly added are several photos relating to "lambing season" as well as pages devoted to shearing and the long string teams pulling the giant wool wagons that prevailed until railroads provided ready access to shipping.

One of the mysteries of the American West (as well as Iceland) are stone monuments constrcted by sheepherders. Several additional photos of sheepherders monuments have been added including one from Icland. About the time of the Korean War, the price of wool began to plume worldwide, the sheepwagons have disappeared to be seen mainly in museums.

Icelander vöršur

January to June 2015.
Can a small town, population 33, united in its determination to preserve its uniqueness, come together and beat back the mighty forces of the Federal Government? The Answer is provided in recent additions to Beulah, Wyoming, population 33.

Watering Horses, Beulah, approx. 1910.

Additional photographs and text has been provided relating to the small towns of Niobrara County, starting at Van Tassel, and following at Node, Manville, Keeline, Jireh, and Prairie View. In Manville read about the town marshal who became a famous hollywood movie star and a trail rider for the C Y who became a Hollywood movie producer. Material has been relating to the mystrious Spanish Diggings.

Node, Wyoming, approx. 1910

January 2015

Additions have been made relating to the hunting of Wild Horses on the Laramie Plains and in the Red Desert, See Wild Horses and additonal material relating to Cattle trails in the Australia. If the Austalian cattle tracks were rough, rougher still were the Dawson Trail and the Edmonton Trail leading to the Klondike. One rider on the Edmonton Trail described the aroma along the trail from the dead horsees that did not make it.
September and October, 2014

Two-Bar Sheepwagon<

Sheepherder in the Absorokas

Additonal pages and text has been added to the pages on Sheepherding . Text now covers the F. S. King Bros. Sheep Company and the Warren Livestock Company for over 100 years the largest sheep company operating under one name in the United States. Several photos have been added of "Little Indian Joe Smith" a sheepherder on the ranch.

In the Chapter on Powell, a page has been added relating to hoboes that rode the rails during the Great Depression and earlier.