Sheepherders played an important role in the history of Carbon County, where Rawlins is located. Although I knew that sheep wagons, which some have described as the first campers, were a fixture in Wyoming, until I took the mural tour, I didn't know that James Candlish, a Rawlins blacksmith, is believed to have invented them.
Take a closer look.
The wagons include a bed area, a small table, cupboards and (as you can see from the chimney) a stove. This was truly home on the range.
Located on the side of a building, this mural -- or, to be more precise -- these four murals depict the challenges along the Mormon Trail, focusing on the Martin Handcart Company, which lost more than 150 pioneers in a devastating blizzard.
Unlike the other murals, each of which had only one artist, this one has two: a mother and daughter team.
According to the pamphlet describing the stops along Rawlins' mural tour, this is "a symbolic representation of the changes that occurred with the arrival of settlers in the West." Obviously, other changes have occurred since the pamphlet was printed, and the mural is no longer visible.
Despite the blank sign, I enjoyed seeing this small park across the street from the train depot. Whether they were there as passengers or simply waiting for friends or family, I can imagine people looking at the clock to see how long it was before the next train would arrive.
We're going to continue our exploration of Rawlins' mural tour throughout July. This mural is the first one you encounter as you enter town from the east. As you can see, it's mounted on the side of a building. But what are the objects in the mural? Let's take a closer look.
This mural celebrates Thomas Edison's fishing trip to Battle Lake, approximately 70 miles south of Rawlins. Who would have thought that a fishing trip would inspire the famous inventor? That's exactly what happened. While he was at Battle Lake, Edison paid particular attention to the fiber line on his fishing pole and later experimented with it as a filament for the incandescent light bulb.
I've always said that inspiration can come at any time, and here's proof.
How many towns do you know that have commissioned twelve murals to commemorate local history? Rawlins did exactly that.
Although this isn't the first mural you encounter when you enter town from the east, it's the perfect one to welcome you to the mural tour. As you can guess from the train cars in the background, this one's located at the train depot. The holes instead of faces for the conductor as well as the mother and child give visitors a chance to become part of the giant postcard. Note that the attention to detail includes those black mounting corners that so many of us have used to put pictures and postcards into scrapbooks.
Have you ever had your picture taken by a sign similar to this?
As you can see, the service to honor the pioneers attracted a number of people. If you look at the table on the right side, you'll see the wooden boxes, now closed and ready for reburial.
In addition to the memorial service and burial, the afternoon's events included the unveiling of the commemorative sign provided by the Platte County Historical Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution. (That's a DAR member in historic costume.)
While some people might have covered the sign with a tarp, not so the PCHS and the DAR. If you look at the bottom of the sign, you'll see that they used a quilt. How fitting!
And so, with much fanfare including speeches and music, three pioneers were returned to their original burial site, and a new historical marker was unveiled. The pioneers were indeed honored.
When they buried their dead, many of the pioneers were unable to construct headstones or other markers to identify their loved ones' final resting place. In some cases, though, they attempted to leave a record. This is an enhanced photograph of a stone found with the youngest of the three pioneers who were honored in the May 2, 2015 ceremony.
The stone says "Jesse Cole July 14, 186" with the last digit having been destroyed by the elements. While you might think this was a headstone, it was not. Instead, it was placed on top of Jesse's body before it was buried.
This is the unenhanced version of the stone.
Researchers determined that Jesse Cole was a teenager, perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old, and that he had some Native American ancestry. The other two pioneers were women, one of whom had recently given birth. Based on diary entries from Abigail Scott Duniway, it is thought that this woman might have been Ann Scott, Abigail's mother. Researchers named the other woman "Glenda" in honor of the nearby town of Glendo.
Welcome! I hope you'll join me for my Wednesday in Wyoming posts -- a chance to learn a little bit about the state I now call home. And, for more information about me and my books, please visit www.amandacabot.com.