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Tales and Trails

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About This Site

David W. Spalding grave marker on the former J Y Ranch.

The first dude ranch in Jackson Hole located near the mouth of Death Canyon was the JY established in 1908 by Louis Joy. It was fully a first class operation. In 1920, the ranch was purchased by Henry S. A. Stewart, Jr. (Henry Stanley Armstrong Stewart, Jr.), the son of a wealthy Pittsburgh banker and oil man. Unfortunately, Stewart, Jr. had a proclivity for multiple marriages. His father had attempted to protect his son by providing a "spend thrift trust.", In 1932 Stewart, Jr. to prevent his wives from levying on his ranch for unpaid alimony, he sold the ranch to J.D. Rockefeller, Jr. The lawsuits between his five wives and some of his lawyers whom he stiffed, attempting to break the trust continued until after Stewart's death in 1955. In one law suit, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to reach back to the reign of Elizabeth I for precident. The ranch is now gone all structures having been removed and the ranch had been allowed to revert to nature with only the grave of a civil war veteran who homesteaded the ranch before selling it to Joy remaining. Read about it at The J Y Ranch.

Engine No. 8, near North Gate, Colorado, approx. 1942.

In August, 2019, text and several photos were added to the Chapter on the Rudefeha Mine tracing tracing the history of Copperton and Dillon, Wyoming. Copperton was founded in 1900 by, among others, J.E. Osborne, former governor of the state. Dillon was established to provide spirits to miners from Rudefeha when alcohol was banned. Both towns lasted a bare ten years.

In July, 2019, some 47 photos have been added tracing the history of the Laramie, Hahn's Peak and Pacific Railway from 1901 to its death in 1996. The railway tied North Park, Colorado, to Laramie and supplied coal, timber, and fluorspar a critical mineral used for optical lens and in steel. As a result of governmental environmental action, the timber is no longer available. The Fluorspar mines are now closed. The United States must now obtain the Fluorspar from China, Mongolia, and elsewhere. The history of the little railway has recently been considered by the United States Supreme Court. See The Laramie, Hahn's Peak & Pacific .

Dick Stanley on Steamboat, 1908

April 2019

Several additions have been added to the pages on Frontier Days. Additional photos and text has been added relating to Steamboat "Steamboat," possible the most often depicted horse in all of America. It is commonly believed that Steamboat is the horse depicted on the Wyoming license plates as well as on the reverse side the "Wyoming" American quarter dollar. Steamboat was ridden by Clayton Danks and Dick Stanley in the 1908 Frontier Days celebration.

The horse was associated with several colorful persons in Wyomming history having belonged at different times to Bosler rancher John Coble, a friend of Tom Horn. Coble lost his fortune in part as a result of his defense of Horn. The Horse then belonged to Cheyenne Elks Lodge No. 660 which then sold the horse to Charles Irwin who weighed heave in the annals of Frontier Days. Irwin was also a friend of Horn. As a result of contact with barbed wire resulting in gangrene, Steamboat was put down by Irwin with Tom Horn's Winchester. In 1910 Stanley was killed at a rodeo in California after his horse fell on him. Following his death Joe Lefors insinuated to the Laramie Daily Boomerang that Stanley was a wanted murderer. The only evidence against Stanley was that the murderer was a good horseman and that Stanley had bragged at one time that there wasn't a horse he could not ride. Coble committed suicide in the ladies room of a hotel in Nevada.

F. E. Studnick on Midnight, 1929.

Two pages have also been added devoted to Midnight, Pete Knight and Wilf Carter. Midnight, Knight, and Carter are, perhaps the three most famous westerners to come out of Alberta. Midnight was a bronc rarely if ever ridden who participated in Frontier Days, Wembly and Calgary. Pete Knight was the original "King of the Cowboys." Carter for fifty years, orignally a cowboy, who achieved fame as a Western singer in Canada, the United States and Australia. Read about it beginning at Midnight.

"Oiled" Highway between Laramie and Bosler, approx. 1926.

< Febrary 23, 2019

Between October 2018 and February 2019 we dipped into our collection and made major additions and updates to the segment on the Lincoln Highway, one time called the "Main street of America." Take a spin with us back in time from the Nebraska line to the Utah line west of Evanson. At first, early travelers on the "highway" faced unexpected difficulties.

Illustration by Edward Patrick Kinsella, (London) Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, March 28, 1908. Wolves attacking Zust, an Italian entrant into the "Great Race," near Spring Valley Wyoming.

As late as 1919 the Army sent a convoy from Washington, D.C. to California. Bridges were not necessarily substantial.

Examining bridge somewhere West of Laramie for structural sufficiency.

Packard Truck furnished by Firestone crossing the above bridge. Whew!, it made it.

Along the way, we will visit early accommodations such as the Cheyenne Municipal Campgrounds, early cabin courts and motels, and early gas stations. One whole page will be devoted to the Summit Tavern, dedicated by the American Legion and where the Elks hosted their Grand Exalted Ruler. Visit a motel operated by a former train robber. Three pages of photos will be devoted to Rock River. A page has been added for Granger and another to Opal [pronoouced "o Pal," emphasis on the second syllable].

Unfortunately many of the towns such as Bosler, Rock River, Elmo, Granger, and Opal along the Highway have dried up when the Federal Highway Administration located I-70 away from the towns.

February 1, 2019.

The Bells of Belangiga.

For a number of years, this website has contained material relating to Wyoming's role in the Spanish-American War and in particular in the Philippines. A part of that material included information about a memorial at Fort D. A. Russell (Now F. E. Warren Air Force Base) honoring members of Company C, 9th Infantry, from Fort D. A. Russell who were killed by Filippino insurgents at Belangiga. Company C had been asigned to Beangiga to improve local sanitary facilities. In recent years the Memorial had been removed from near the flag pole to a warehouse. The Memorial consisted of two bells that had been used by the insurgents to signal the attack upon the Americans as the Boys in Blue were eating lunch. Forty-Eight of the boys were killed with machettes. All of the remainder except one, were wounded. A third bell was held by the 9th Infantry in Korea.

On December 11, 2018, the Bells from F. E. Warren and the one bell held by the 9th Infantry were returned to the Philippines and given to that country. The material relating to the Bells has been updated to reflect the return of the Bells and the dismantling of the Memorial. See Fort D. A. Russell.

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".