Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 30, 2015

The year is almost over, but the celebrations at Fort Laramie continue.  I thought you might enjoy seeing this tree.  While similar to the one the soldiers had in their barracks (last week's post), it's obviously more elaborate, as you would expect from people with more time and money at their disposal.

Here's a closer view that also highlights the fancy card and letter holder on the wall.  Life was definitely easier for the officers and their families than it was for the soldiers.

However you celebrated Christmas, I hope it was a joyous time for you and that you're looking forward to 2016.  I send my wishes for a year filled with peace and happiness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 23, 2015

For the last couple weeks, I've enjoyed showing you the beautifully decorated tables at the post surgeon's and officers' homes.  Life was different for the enlisted men.  They ate at Spartan tables, and you don't see any candy-topped cakes here.

And, yet, they did their best to decorate their quarters.
The tree looks almost as if it were a tumbleweed.  (Perhaps it was.)  Even with only a few gingerbread men hanging from it, I imagine this humble tree helped bring the joy of Christmas to the soldiers' lives.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 16, 2015

Although the decorations at this Fort Laramie house aren't as elaborate as the ones we saw last week, the table is still festive with its evergreen centerpiece and candy-topped cake.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 9, 2015

Welcome back to Fort Laramie, where the restored homes are getting ready for Christmas.  In addition to the evergreen centerpiece with candy canes hanging from the sides and the candy-topped cakes and gingerbread men on each plate, there's a gingerbread house on the buffet. 

I wish my dining room looked this festive.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 2, 2015

It's December, and Fort Laramie is decorated for the holidays.  (Did you notice the red lanterns in addition to the evergreen swag and red bow?)

I hope you'll enjoy this month's blog posts as I share some of the fort's special decorations with you.  While the man-made decorations are lovely, nothing compares to the natural beauty of a fresh coat of snow. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 25, 2015

If you don't live in Wyoming, you may not have been aware of the controversy surrounding the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and the removal of wolves from the Endangered Species Act. 

This exhibit  from the State Museum's 125 Years of Statehood exhibit gives you an idea of the two sides' opinions of wolves.  If you can't read the smaller sign, it says "Little Red Riding Hood Lied.  Restore the Wolf."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 18, 2015

You've heard of shotgun weddings, haven't you?  Even though that wasn't the reason for this particular display, I couldn't help but smile when I saw the outlaw's shotgun next to a wedding dress.  Both are part of the State Museum's 125 years of Statehood exhibit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 11, 2015

Today is Veteran's Day and the perfect time to include this picture from the Wyoming State Museum's 12 Years of Statehood exhibit. 

On October 31, 1916 the University of Wyoming became one of the first colleges in the country to have a Reserve Officers Training Corps program, which they called The Students Army Training Corps.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- November 4, 2015

Did you know that Wyoming celebrated 25 years of statehood this year?  In honor of that milestone, the State Museum created an exhibit with artifacts from each of the decades of statehood.  This 44-star flag, which was presented to the governor by Esther Morris, commemorates both the fact that Wyoming was the forty-fourth state to join the Union and that women played an important role in the territory being approved for statehood.

In case you can't read it, the lettering on the red stripes reads, "To Wyoming, from her women, in honor of the State Constitution, 1890."  

Here's more information about the flag's presentation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 28, 2015

The Lincoln Monument -- Part 4

Once the pedestal was ready for Lincoln,the next step was for the crane operators to secure straps around him.  I hadn't expected them to go around his neck, but as you can see, that's exactly where they were positioned.  And then it was time to go airborne.

You've heard of picture perfect weather.  That's what we had that day.

To my surprise, there was a lot of work -- hours worth -- after the bust was finally in place on the pedestal.

The same crew that had prepared the pedestal had to get it into exactly the right place, then secure it to the base.

Although that's not what's happening, this picture looks almost as if one of the workmen was trying to straighten Lincoln's tie.

Even after the straps were removed and the crane was able to leave, work continued, securing the monument to its base.  But eventually everything was completed, and the newly restored Lincoln monument was ready to greet travelers for many more years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 21, 2015

The Lincoln Monument -- Part 3

Once the monument was sandblasted and sealed, it was time to truck it back to the summit of I-80.  Can you imagine the looks Lincoln must have gotten as he was transported down the highway?  But look at how clean he is compared to two weeks earlier.

You might think that the next step was to place the bust back on the pedestal, but there was work to be done before that.  A crew had to prepare the pedestal.  Believe it or not, that was a multi-hour project.

Next the crane had to be positioned.  And then ... 
We'll conclude the Lincoln adventure next week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 14, 2015

The Lincoln Monument -- Part 2

Remember how dark the Lincoln monument was prior to its restoration?  Here it is inside the monument building at Eagle Bronze with the sandblasting almost finished.  Actually, sandblasting is a misnomer.  Instead of sand, special glass pellets were used to remove the oxidation from the statue.

Once that was finished, several coats of sealer were applied, followed by a special coating to protect it from UV rays.

You can see just how tall Lincoln is -- 13 1/2 feet -- by comparing the top of his head with the ladder.  It's a large statue!

And, yes, his bowtie is crooked.  Apparently many representations of Abraham Lincoln, including the engraving on the five dollar bill, show him with a crooked tie, so Robert Isaiah Russin, the artist chosen to create this statue, continued the tradition.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- October 7, 2015

The Lincoln Monument -- Part 1

Many travelers on Interstate 80 in Wyoming look forward to the road's summit just east of Laramie and the view of the Lincoln monument, so you can imagine how disappointed they were for a two-week period when the pedestal was empty.  Staff at the visitors' center said they had as many as forty inquiries a day about the missing statue.

Why was Lincoln gone? 
If you look at this picture taken several years before the restoration, you'll see that the statue is almost black.  That's the result of more than twenty years of oxidation and pollution.  WYDOT knew the deteroriation couldn't be allowed to continue, and so they contracted with Eagle Bronze in Lander to restore it to its original beauty.

Here's another view of the pre-restoration statue.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 30, 2015

Have you ever thought about how many shades of green there are?  As I travel across Wyoming, I'm reminded that there are more greens here than in the box of 64 crayons I used to have, and each tells a story.

Wyoming is a semi-arid state, so you won't see the lush velvety-green pastures of the East.  What you will find are shades of green, depending on how much water individual areas receive.  The row of deep green trees in the distance tells travelers there's a small creek nearby.  In the foreground, you see the gray-green of sagebrush, and in between there's the yellow green of grass getting ready to go dormant.
Boring or pretty?  It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 23, 2015

Have you ever seen a fence like this?  I wasn't sure why there were extra pieces of wood until I noticed the wires connecting them.  Apparently they're used to stabilize the fence in high winds.  If you've ever been to Wyoming, you know why that's necessary.  High winds are part of the reason we have some of the cleanest air in the country.
Here's another view of the fence.  Note, too, the watering troughs.  This is cattle ranching country, and beef on the hoof need water.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 16, 2015

You might think no one lives here, and you'd be right, but what's that abandoned building in the background?  Here's a closer look.
What is it?  A storage shed?  A temporary shelter?  Something else?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 9, 2015

For traveling long distances, there's nothing that beats the interstates.  (Thank you, President Eisenhower, for recognizing the need.)  But leaving the interstates for the backroads provides the opportunity to see the countryside "up close and personal."  I found this road, which heads through the Laramie Range, intriguing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- September 2, 2015

How often do you see a sign like this?  I suspect it's one of tourists' favorite parts of Wyoming's interstates, and I have to admit that the extra five miles an hour make a difference on long trips.  But sometimes it's nice to slow down and enjoy the scenery.  That's what we'll be doing for the rest of September.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 26, 2015

I knew that goats had beards, but a striped one?  That was a surprise.  The question is, is it really a stripe or simply a shadow?  And, yes, this is one of the famous weed-eating goats that I featured earlier this month.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 19, 2015

Have you ever had one of these in your yard?  I hope not!  As you can see, they do a fair amount of damage while they're excavating their tunnels and dens, but even more importantly, they're vicious animals and have no fear of humans.  Why would they, when they can run 19mph and have impressive teeth?

What it is it?  A badger.  And though they're supposedly nocturnal, this one obviously didn't get that memo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 12, 2015

Last week we had sleeping goats.  Today I thought I'd show you a sleeping bunny.  I'll never understand why it wanted to be close to rocks and cactus, but this young cottontail was so exhausted after getting caught in the first hailstorm of its life that it collapsed right on top of some decorative rocks.  After a ten minute nap, it was back to its normal early evening routine: eating.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- August 5, 2015

They're back!  Cheyenne's weed-eating goats -- the environmentally friendly, not to mention cute, alternative to herbicides -- are back.  Here they are at rest early in the morning, getting ready for another hard day at work. 

And here they are, doing what goats do best -- eating.  Weeds, beware.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 29, 2015

The Mural Tour -- Part 5

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.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 22, 2015

The Mural Tour -- Part 4

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 15, 2015

The Mural Tour -- Part 3

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. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 8, 2015

The Mural Tour -- Part 2

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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 1, 2015

The Mural Tour -- Part 1

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? 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 24, 2015

Honoring the Pioneers -- Part 4

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.