Friday, October 30, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0176 - Western Wyoming - 2015

The Shoshone Indians called the river Seeds-Kee-Dee Agie, but the Jedediah Smith and his Mountain Men camped at this location on March 19, 1824 and named it "The Green." Mountain men considered these waters to be "the greatest beaver waters ever known." Years later emigrants followed the same trails established by the mountain men and camped in this same area. Unfortunately, many emigrants drowned trying to cross the river and were buried along the river banks. 

Located just a few miles up the road is Names Hill, which contains the names of many mountain men and emigrants that passed this way and carved their names in the soft sandstone. The oldest inscription was made in 1822 and the most famous inscription  is "Jim Bridger 1844 Trapper."

The Green River Valley Museum in Big Piney contains a wide variety of local historic items that were used to support ranching and agriculture in the Valley. The Lander Cut-Off (North Fork of the Oregon Trail) passed just north of town, but none of the thousands of emigrants migrating west settled in this area. It wasn't until the late 1870s that cattlemen started ranching on nearby Piney Creek and formed the community of Big Piney.  

The Lander Cut-Off shortened the trip to the Pacific by 5-to-7 days and avoided price gouging ferries to the south. It is estimated that about 300 wagons and thousands of cattle, horses, and mules passed this point each day at the height of the migration. Visible wagon ruts that "continue over the next ridge are reminders of the largest known voluntary migration in world history." 

The Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale contains a large collection of Mountain Man artifices and historical documents, including the 40-caliber rifle that Louis Vasquez presented to Jim Bridger in 1853. Not to be missed if you are interested in mountain man history.

Although most people know that the Lewis and Clark Corps were the first to cross the continent, how many people know the name of the second group. Fortunately, I found a sign on the north side of Highways 189/191 between Daniel and Bondurant that answered the question. On October 18, 1811 Wilson Price Hunt and his team of sixty-one Astorians of the Pacific Fur Company camped for five days at this site in Sublette County (Wyoming) while making their trip to the Pacific Ocean, becoming the second group to cross the continent.  

Attention Quilters - Great Business Opportunity!!! The little old Grandma that ran the quilt shop in Jackson (Wyoming) has passed away and now there in no quilt shop in all of Jackson Hole. Great opportunity for someone that wants to be an entrepreneur.

Since there is no quilt shop to visit in Jackson, you can always stop by the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, which is located just south of the National Elk Refuge. Also, the Jackson Town Square contains four beautiful elk-horn arches (one at each corner of the park).

Of course, most tourist come to Jackson to ski or visit Grand Teton National Park, located north of town. I think the views across Jenny and Jackson Lakes were my favorite spots.


Friday, October 23, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0175 - Southwest Wyoming - 2015

Evanston is located in the southwest corner of Wyoming and although I have driven through the City on Interstate-80 several times, I have never exited the freeway to visit the various historic attractions. Since I was not in a rush, this seemed like a good stop for a RonnieAdventure!

Depot Square is located in Historic Downtown Evanston and contains numerous buildings of historic interest. The Evanston Depot is architecturally unique when compared to other Wyoming depots because it contains separate passenger waiting rooms for men and women. Apparently, the women did not like to sit with the men that smoked cigars and used spittoons.

The old Uinta County Courthouse has now been converted into a museum that contains a variety of local historical items, including a reconstructed general store.

A replica of the original Jose House has been constructed on the site to commemorate the Chinese heritage and their contribution to the City of Evanston. Some furnishings that had been saved from the original Jose House have been incorporated into the replica. An authentic Chinese Gazebo and a Chinese garden are located behind the house to honor the large number of Chinese laborers that worked on the railroad and in the coal mines near Evanston.

Also located on the site are two beams from the World Trade Center and several crab-apple trees. 

Located just down the street is the large semicircular roundhouse that could hold up to 28 steam locomotives at one time. This is the last remaining complete roundhouse on the old Union Pacific line between Omaha and Sacramento. The roundhouse has now been converted into a state-of-the-art convention center. There are also numerous other railroad and historic buildings in Evanston that have been renovated or are planed for restoration at some future date. 

In 1843 Jim Bridger established a small fort on Black Fork of the Green River, which would become one of the main stopping points for the Western migration of mountain men, emigrants, Mormon pioneers, the Pony Express, Overland Stage Company, and the Union Pacific Railroad. Due to its strategic location, the U.S. Army converted the fort to a military outpost in 1858. After the fort was decommissioned, most of the buildings were sold or destroyed and then in 1933 the State of Wyoming obtained the site for a State Historical Landmark and Museum. A number of buildings still remain on the site, including officer housing, barracks, a jail, the first school building that was built in Wyoming, an old barn, and a replica of Jim Bridger's original fort (complete with a gift shop full of trinkets). 

In 1898 James Cash ("JC") Penney started working for a Golden Rule Store in Colorado and then purchased a one-third interest in the company and moved to Kemmerer (Wyoming) on April 14, 1902 to open a new Golden Rule Store. In 1907 Penney purchased the interests of his other two partners and after expanding the chain to 34 Golden Rule Stores, in 1913 the stores were incorporated under the name JC Penney and the Golden Rule Store name was retired.  

Since Penney moved to Kemmerer to start his first store, Kemmerer likes to claim that this is the location of the first JC Penney Store. There is still a JC Penney store located on Main Street in Kemmerer that looks a lot like the JC Penney store I remember as a child. The store even has the old wire system for sending payments from the sales floor up to the accounting department. The JC Penney residence is located just down the street from the store. 

Located around Kemmerer are also a new courthouse, several outdoor murals painted on building walls, the Fossil County Museum, and an interesting antler arch.

Fossil Butte National Monument, known as "America's Aquarium in Stone," is located about 10 miles west of Kemmerer. This is the area where the fossilized fish come from that you see in all rock shops around the country. Also found in this area are fossilized insects, plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals. 

Unfortunately, fossil hunting is not allowed in the National Monument. However, if you are an amateur paleontologist and would like to try digging for fossils, you can visit one of the private quarries located outside of the Monument boundaries. The State of Wyoming and the Federal Government have claim to any fossils you find, but they will typically let you keep small fish fossils if they are typical of the area and do not have any rare or unusual characteristics.