On a remote sagebrush flat in the Red Desert in northern Sweetwater County, Wyo., four flagpoles and a stone monument mark the intersection of what once were the Louisiana Purchase, the Oregon Country and Mexico. Nothing much ever happened there—but the site remains a linchpin of the American West.
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Skiing for fun began on Casper Mountain in the 1920s. People cut a few scattered slopes, added rope tows, started a ski patrol and held races. Hogadon Basin Ski Area was founded in the late 1950s. Today, Hogadon, 26 miles of Nordic trails and a world-class biathlon course lure skiers from everywhere.
In 1878, the enterprising Otto Franc described Wyoming as “the finest & wildest country . . . abounding with fish & game.” From conflicts with rustlers through the beginnings of irrigation and the end of the open range, his huge Pitchfork Ranch came to dominate Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin.
Hawaiian cowboys, competing at Frontier Days in 1908, kicked off Wyoming’s Hawaiian music (and culture) craze. The “paniolo” dominated the world championships that year. Wyomingites bought ukeleles, phonographs and records and attended Hawaiian plays, musicals, dances and concerts for decades. Interest was still strong well into the 1950s.
On the evening of January 11, 1907, Eastern Shoshone Tribal Councilman George Terry was murdered after leaving a council meeting. Was it a crime of passion, perhaps revenge for mistreating his wife Kate Enos? Or was it an assassination, retribution for backing the selloff of half the reservation’s tribal lands?
A major route for emigrants, freighters, the military, stagecoaches and mail, the Overland Trail across present southern Wyoming saw heavy traffic in the 1850s and 1860s. At different stations along the way, coach drivers obtained fresh horses, the wives of station masters fed dusty travelers and soldiers fought attacking warriors.
Historical monuments and markers often enrich our travels with information on a local place, person, or event—but each marker also hints at the thinking of whoever set it there in the first place. The formal marking of historic spots in Wyoming dates back before statehood, and the process continues today.
A ford, ferry and stage station made up bustling little Green River Station, where the Oregon/California/Mormon Trail crossed the Green River—part of Green River County, Utah until Wyoming became a territory. Serving emigrants, passengers, freighters and the Pony Express, the station died after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869.
Though born in Cody, Jackson Pollock soon moved away and never returned, and the state has never claimed him. But Pollock vigorously claimed Wyoming—this wild place. Risk was what he was all about—both in his life and in the revolutionary drips and swirls of his paint.
Thomas Twiss, West Point class of 1826, came to Fort Laramie as a civilian in 1855, tasked with keeping government promises to tribes and keeping peace in all directions. He had an Oglala family on Deer Creek in addition to a family back East—and lived in two worlds for decades.