Wyoming, a Guide to Its History, Highways, and People

By Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Wyoming | Go to book overview

Tour 3

( Billings, Mont.)--Sheridan--Casper--Orin--Cheyenne--(Fort Collins, Colo.); US 87.

Montana Line to Colorado Line, 398.9 m.

Oil-surfaced roadbed, open all seasons; occasional cloudbursts, especially in Chugwater district. Excellent for trailers.

Route paralleled by Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R. and Chicago & Northwestern Ry. between Casper and Orin; by C.B. & Q.R.R. and Colorado & Southern R.R. between Orin and Colorado Line.

All types of accommodations.

US 87, Wyoming's principal north-south highway, passes through an area rich in frontier lore and representative of Wyoming in its industries and scenery. It crosses the Sheridan ranching and coal-mining areas and broad Johnson County, with its outlaw and cattleman traditions. It climbs the arid Casper prairie, cuts through the Salt Creek oil field, and turns eastward down the North Platte River, along whose clay banks in the middle 1800's half a million westbound emigrants trudged patiently or jolted in springless prairie schooners. Then it swings southward again among farms and ranches to the Cheyenne plains.


Section a. MONTANA LINE to BUFFALO; 68.7 m. US 87-14.

Between the Montana Line and Buffalo, US 87 runs close to the majestic Big Horns. On the east, the plain spreads its tremendous billows toward muddy Powder River, whose name is perhaps better known to Americans than that of any other Western river of comparable size. This unhurried alkaline stream, which washes its first salty mud off the cankerous deserts of Natrona County, is put to little use, but seems to typify something Western. The description, 'a mile wide, an inch deep, and runs uphill,' and the cry, ' Powder River, let 'er buck!' once adopted by American soldiers, have been repeated from Maine to California.

The Big Horn country was first the home of the Crow; but the Sioux, a proud forest folk who came West and became the most formidable mounted warriors in America, conquered it and ruled it for half a century. At first the Sioux, whose lands lay north of emigrant routes, kept aloof when the white man came; but, when their own land was threatened by cattlemen and miners, they resisted. There was pathos

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