Last week, I showed symmetrical displays of history at the Museum of the American West in Lander, Wyoming. However, history is not always balanced. A good museum shows our similarities and differences. Here are more items on display at the Museum.
At times, our differences stand out.
Though what we wear differs, from practical and utilitarian…
To ornamental and symbolic, our clothing reflects who we are.
Here are some treasures of the Old West at the Museum of the American West, in Lander, Wyoming, shown in both color and black and white. Click on the arrows to see monochrome versions highlighting their symmetry.
Wheels may carry you forward, towards new horizons
While taking pictures of the Pioneer Village in Lander, Wyoming, I immediately thought of how they would look in sepia tones. I wanted to focus on their structure and emphasize their age.
The Pioneer Village buildings are part of the Museum of the American West. The main museum showcases a wide variety of artifacts from people who lived in this area in the mid-1800s to early-1900s.
The Guinard Cabin, circa 1902, has a rough plank and mortar construction. The overall brown color in the picture below hides the presence of a garden hose. A windmill and teepee blend into the background.
This storage shed and Saloon would fit right into an old time neighborhood.
In late May, I went on a hike on part of the Santiam Wagon Road near Sisters, Oregon (see trail map at end of post). Carol Wall, of the Deschutes Land Trust, led this hike. We traveled along an out and back two-mile section of the road. This 400-mile route was used to move livestock and freight between 1865-1939. In the first 15 years of its operation, around 5,000 wagons passed over this route.
As I mentioned in a previous post, most travelers on this road traveled from the west side of the mountains to the east. My Santiam Wagon Road post gives details about a 2-mile hike on a different section of this route.
We gathered around the kiosk in the parking area and Carol had us imagine what this road must have looked like in the 1860s. The ponderosa pine and western juniper trees you’ll see at the trailhead likely didn’t exist at that time. Junipers expanded their range due to fire suppression and overgrazing.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney created Buffalo Bill – The Scout to honor the town’s most famous resident. The dedication took place on July 4th in 1924.
Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, was determined to honor his legacy after he died in 1917. She dreamed of opening a museum recognizing his accomplishments, despite the challenges. With her connections with the Eastern establishment, she convinced Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to create a statue of Buffalo Bill.
Whitney agreed to create the sculpture, but didn’t like the proposed sites for its placement. She bought 40 adjoining acres. Whitney also ended up paying the entire $50,000 cost of the sculpture. The small town of Cody, evidently, could not raise enough to pay her.
A dream of a museum becomes a reality
In 1925, the International Cody Family Association formed. They proposed creating a Buffalo Bill Historical Museum. The town constructed a full-size replica of Buffalo Bill’s ranch home and opened it to the public in 1927. By 1949, the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association made plans to expand the facility. Western history and art, Native American culture, and natural history would be highlighted. A $250,000 donation in 1955 finally made expansion possible. Sonny Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s son, made that donation. In 1958, The Whitney Gallery of Western Art would become the first part of the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Sometimes when you research one thing – a statue – you plunge down a rabbit hole and learn much more. I did not know the Vanderbilts, once considered to be the wealthiest family in America, had this connection with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his legacy.
Mary Jester Allen would serve the museum in multiple roles from 1927 to 1960. Because of her actions and perseverance, the center now attracts millions of visitors from around over the world.
I saw this abandoned building on a corner in Howe, Idaho. Though I could not learn the history of this specific building, I learned a well-known historical figure spent part of his life nearby.
The Little Lost River, located north and east of this site, was once known as “John Day’s River” or “Day’s River.” In 1810, the John Jacob Astor Pacific Fur Company set out to establish a base of operations at the mouth of the Columbia River. They made many discoveries along the way while searching for the easiest routes of travel. John Day, an experienced hunter and trapper, was a member of the party.
John Day’s travels
The group, led by Wilson Price Hunt, divided into four parties when food became scarce. John Day became ill and was left behind with Ramsay Crooks on the shores of the Snake River. The two men eventually made their way to the mouth of the Mah-Mah River, where it joins the Columbia. At that site, the two were robbed of all their belongings and stripped naked by Natives. Because of this incident, the river was renamed the John Day River. Crooks and Day were rescued days later by Robert Stuart, of the Pacific Fur Company, and taken to Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Here’s a sepia tone view of Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in the Oregon Outback. Twelve buildings built in the early 1900s were moved to this site. It’s one of my favorite roadside attractions in Central Oregon.
Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.
Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!
The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.
As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.
“We’re almost there,” Pa said. He pointed
towards a low sagebrush-covered hill. “It’s just over that rise.”
“How many times have you said that, Pa?” I
said to myself. I shaded my eyes and looked at the dismal landscape. Dusty
sagebrush and clumps of dry grass for as far as I could see.
The year is 1853 and my name is Lizzie. My
family is heading west along the Oregon Trail. It’s not a trail so I don’t know
why they call it that. Some people call it Emigrant Road, but I don’t think
that’s right either. It’s a rough meandering pathway to a new life, that’s what
it is. That’s why so many of us are making this journey, no matter what the
We have traveled nearly 1,600 miles so
far. On a good day we make 20 miles but on most days we travel 10-15. It’s been
five months since we left Missouri.
We came here because of the promise of
free land. If Pa was a single man, he could claim 320 acres; since he’s
married, he and Ma can claim 640 acres. Was it worth it? I sure hope so. Based
on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think this is “The Land of Milk and Honey”
that everyone said it was.
Turning in his saddle and tilting his dusty hat to shade his eyes, he finally sees it in the distance. The round barn. The year is 1887 and he and the other vaqueros are moving a herd of horses collected over the sagebrush covered plains of the High Desert in Oregon. He had worked so many hours that week that when he finally settled down each night on a bed of hard sandy soil, he instantly fell into a deep sleep.
Moving cattle, horses, and mules for his boss, Pete French, was a hard but satisfying life. Guiding his horse with worn leather reins, he moves to the back of the herd of mustangs and starts driving them towards the barn.
Round barns – marvelous structures with a purpose
The Pete French Round Barn, near Diamond, Oregon, was built in the 1880’s. The center pole and supporting poles are made from ancient western juniper trees. The juniper shows cuts and gouges from past use but is still strong. Umbrella-like beams radiate out from the center to support the rounded roof of this 100-foot diameter barn. Horses were stabled in the middle part of the building. The 63-foot diameter rock wall in the middle section forms a round corral in the building’s interior. A 20-foot wide circular paddock surrounds it. During the long winters, 400 to 600 horses and mules were moved through and trained in the barn, safe from the harsh conditions outside.
Tucked away in Oregon’s Outback, you will find a unique place that hearkens back to an earlier time. The Cowboy Dinner Tree is a small restaurant located in Silver Lake Oregon, about an hour and a half southeast of Bend. The restaurant is only open from 4:00-8:30 pm four days per week and reservations are required. They give you ample portions of food here and you are advised to bring a cooler for leftovers. They do not take credit cards or debit cards so have cash on hand.
Steak at Cowboy Dinner Tree
You have your choice of a 26-30 oz. top sirloin steak or a whole roasted chicken. Both are accompanied by several tasty side dishes. There is green salad, hearty soup, old fashioned sweet yeast rolls, baked potato, and a dessert. You can have coffee, iced tea, or pink lemonade with your meal. On the day we were there, they served bean soup and a small shortcake with fresh berries. Everything is homemade and made daily.