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

sand-steppes through a region that is rich in minerals and invaluable as winter sheep range.

US 189 branches southwest from US 187 (see Tour 7b), 0 m., 1.9 miles north of Daniel, and swings almost due south through the broad Piney meadowlands. White-faced cattle graze in willowed pastures here. The road crosses the GREEN RIVER, 1 m.

RENDEZVOUS PARK (L), 1.7 m., at the juncture of Green River and Horse Creek, was a popular site for the annual assemblage of trappers in the 1820's and 1830's (see History). The first gathering in the vicinity ( 1824), conducted by Thomas (Broken Hand) Fitzpatrick, was small, with only employees of William H. Ashley's Rocky Mountain Fur Company participating. The next year, Ashley selected a spot on Henry's Fork of the Green River and posted signs inviting all trappers to attend. After that, until the end of free trapping in the middle 1840's, the rendezvous was an annual event vital to the industry. Trappers trekked in singly, in pairs, and in groups, to swap their catch for the powder, traps, and other things they needed. Rival companies competed with gusto, and not too many scruples, for pelts already taken and for the future services of trappers. Sometimes more than 1,500 men took part in the daily activities. Trading went on briskly at fixed hours, followed usually by target shooting, wrestling, horse racing, and gambling. By day, men lounged in the shade of the cottonwood trees, while their animals fed on the rich valley grasses. At night, the air vibrated with the pounding of tom-toms, the chanting of Indians, the barking of dogs, and the singing, cursing, and laughter of white men.

The most significant gathering was that of 1835, at which Dr. Marcus Whitman and the Reverend Samuel Parker were present, on their way to Oregon to study the problem of missionary work among the Indians. The advent of piety to the roughneck concourse was a novelty, but, more important, it heralded the advance of white settlers into the West and the end of an era the Astors, Ashleys, Sublettes, Bridgers, and Beckwourths had believed unending. The trapper and trader could flourish only in the wilderness; the appearance of missionaries foreshadowed the wave of families and plows that was to transform the West. Settlement and civilization, symbolized by the substitution of the silk hat for the beaver cap, were to complete what ruthless slaughter of the fur bearers had begun--the destruction of the fur trade, But in 1835 the trade was at its zenith. Mountain men came to the rendezvous from scores of widely separated trapping areas; historians have speculated on the number of foreign states whose agents may have been present. England was striving to hold the Oregon country; other nations had not entirely abandoned the hope of obtaining American lands.

The trading, drinking, and roistering often led to violence. Boasts were made and challenges accepted. Indians performed warlike rituals for pay; trappers joined in the songs and dances of the Indians. Dur-

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Wyoming, a Guide to Its History, Highways, and People
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Preface xix
  • Illustrations xxi
  • Maps xxv
  • General Information xxxi
  • Calendar of Annual Events xxxvii
  • PART I - Wyoming: Past and Present 1
  • Contemporary Scene 3
  • Natural Setting 11
  • Archeology and Indians 49
  • History 58
  • Transportation 79
  • Industry, Commerce and Labor 90
  • Agriculture 98
  • Education 109
  • Sports and Recreation 117
  • Folklore and Folkways 122
  • Literature 127
  • The Theater 137
  • Music 147
  • Art 155
  • Architecture 161
  • Part II - Cities 171
  • Casper 173
  • Cheyenne 183
  • Laramie 195
  • Sheridan 206
  • PART III - Tours 215
  • Tour 1 217
  • Tour 2a 251
  • Tour 2c 253
  • Tour 3 267
  • Tour 4a 292
  • Tour 4b 300
  • Tour 6 318
  • Tour 6a 339
  • Tour 7a 341
  • Tour 8 350
  • Tour 9 356
  • Tour 10 367
  • Tour 11 380
  • Yellowstone National Park 392
  • PART IV - Appendices 439
  • Chronology 441
  • Bibliography 449
  • Glossary 459
  • 1940 - Census Figures 467
  • Index 469
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