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(light keyboard music)

- [Narrator] On this What's in a Name edition

of Main Street Wyoming, we'll dive into three more

unique Wyoming towns.

First we'll learn about Thermopolis

and its world-renowned hot springs.

Next we'll explore some of Glenrock's fascinating

and influential history.

Finally, we'll visit Sundance,

we'll learn about the Native American ritual

of the sun dance, and we'll meet the Sundance Kid.

It's all next on Main Street Wyoming.

(light acoustic guitar music)

- [Narrator] Production funding for Main Street Wyoming

is provided in part by the Wheeler Family Foundation

of Casper, and by the members of Wyoming PBS.

Thank you.

(breathing deeply)

- [Narrator] Welcome to Thermopolis,

world-famous for its mineral hot springs.

Ray Shaffer will bring us a local perspective

on how the town of Thermopolis developed,

as well as highlight some of the many charms

that attract visitors to this unique Wyoming paradise.

(light acoustic guitar music)

- I was born and raised here in Thermopolis.

I'm fourth-generation native,

so my roots go deep, and

it's a good place to live. (laughing)

(light acoustic guitar music)

You gotta understand of how Thermopolis came about.

We are the most isolated place in Wyoming.

There was no access into the Big Horn basin,

except from the north and coming in from the east,

and that wasn't great.

We're bounded by mountains and natural

topography, all around us.

It was difficult to get in here.

The first, really, trail that came in here,

was Jim Bridger brought the wagon trains,

came over Knee Pass and came down Kirby Creek,

crossed the river then went north into Montana.

Then later, they had the Merritt Pass,

which we call Blondie Pass today,

which is up on upper Owl Creek.

And that was actually the first mail route

and first stage route that came into the Big Horn basin.

The reservation had all of this country

that was south of Owl Creek, but there's a little notch

right at the mouth of Owl Creek where it joins

the Big Horn River, that Ben Hansen

took out a claim for a town site there.

He had a little settlement started there.

So they had this shooting over there, and Dr. Schulke,

he was the only resident doctor in the area,

came over from Lander to treat the gunshot wound.

He had been here before and was attracted

to the hot springs.

He was drawn to the area, and was familiar with the area,

and so the folks at the mouth of Owl Creek

decided they wanted to have a post office

there in their settlement.

So they didn't have a name for their town,

and that's when Dr. Schulke and

a couple of old Irishmen by the name McGill and O'Reilly,

they got together, and a couple of the neighbors around, and

they decided they'd name it Thermopolis

because they would name it after the hot springs,

thermo for hot or boiling,

and polis for city.

So they set that as the name.

That was the name of the town at that time,

though we were quite a ways down the river,

five miles or six miles from the actual hot springs,

there were people squatting here and

coming to the hot springs all the time.

The post office actually moved down to the old town,

we call it Old Town now, in 1895.

The deal was, around the big springs

was all reservation.

There wasn't any settlement allowed here.

So I think there were probably politics involved,

but anyway, they bought 10 miles square, from the Indians,

because the game had been depleted, one thing, another,

and they bought it from the Indians.

They got it for ninety-some cents an acre.

It automatically opened it up for white man's settlement

here, and in 1896

there was a town at the mouth of Owl Creek.

By '97 everything had moved here, and

they just abandoned that town out there.

They more or less picked up the old buildings

and just came this way, and established a town.

Well, the deal was that the State of Wyoming

would own a one-mile square around the big springs,

and that would be set apart as the State Reserve,

and the rest of that 10-mile square

would be opened up to white man's settlement.

People automatically said well let's build, and they did,

and built a town quickly.

One of the stipulations that, when the land

was bought from the Indians was Chief Washakie said

that the water had to be free to use.

So to this very day we have the State Bath House

which is free to use, and

its water comes straight from the hot springs to that.

And the Indians used it way before the white man was here.

The Crow, and the Shoshone, and the Sioux,

the Blackfeet came into this area.

So it was used by several different tribes,

and they'd travel here for the hunting

and for the use of water.

And so when the white man got the opportunity

to use it, then they, naturally, commercialized it.

And so, anything outside the free water,

concessioners came in with the plunges

and the hotels, and things that we have today.

(light acoustic guitar music)

One of the things that's really come on lately,

and it's adjacent to the State Park,

is the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, where they discovered

some new dinosaurs here.

And we've got quite a display there

for folks to come in, and

something that's turned educational,

they have what they call a kid's dig over there,

that the young school children can come here in the summer

and actually dig up dinosaur bones.

So it's been quite an addition to the community,

to find those old relics here.

The state buffalo herd has been here.

I guess the state actually has two herds,

but this is the official herd here.

It's been here all my life, and in fact

last year, we celebrated the centennial

of the buffalo herd, and the Swinging Bridge,

in the same year, were established here.

(light acoustic guitar music)

This area was established for agriculture purposes,

ranching and farming mostly.

And that has diversified a lot through the years,

but when they discovered oil here, and

when the train came here, it changed the country.

When the railroad came to Thermopolis in 1910,

it opened up trade and ways to get your product

in and out of here.

Probably our biggest boom years were in the 50s

and the 60s.

We had Empire Oil, had a refinery here in town,

and it employed a lot of people.

There was mining operations still going on in the 50s

and a little into the 60s.

And the oil fields were booming pretty good in those years.

So I think we probably peaked around, I would say,

five or 6,000 people, probably, in the county,

at that time.

(light acoustic guitar music)

Tourism is a pretty big business.

We've just built a new airport here, west of town,

so we have great access for folks to fly in.

And we're in the process of upgrading

our hospital, medical facilities around here,

with a new hospital district.

We've got all new schools here, so we have a lot of draw

for families to move here.

But the actual draw for most people to come here,

is for the tourism.

Once they find the place, they want to live here.

We find a lot of folks just wanna move

and stay here, because it's a great place to raise a family.

It's year-round, because that hot water, the plunges

and the hotels are open, they cater to folks year-round.

A lot of the schools bring their kids here

for field trips and that.

And so it's turned into quite a tourist area.

The State Park has just gone through a 20-year plan,

looking ahead, there'll be some changes in the State Park.

A lot of the old things will stay,

the things that really draw the people, the terraces,

the people like to walk, and the Swinging Bridge,

and of course Monument Hill.

Not many places you'll see a hill with a sign on it.

I know you can go a lot of places in the country,

but there's certain places that just strike you

as a good place to live.

We're not really isolated, but we're not

in the thick of things.

We have one stoplight, and that's plenty.

We're kind of a spot that's out of the way

with great scenery and great hunting, and

lots of natural resources here to enjoy.

I don't suppose I'd rather live anywhere else,

kind of like my dad and my granddad.

They never went anywhere, just lived right here.

(light acoustic guitar music)

- Hello, welcome to Glenrock.

Local historian Kevin Campbell will share with us

a bit of the compelling history of Glenrock,

and how events in Glenrock have had a ripple effect

across Wyoming and across the region.

(acoustic guitar music)

- Glenrock, Wyoming is located in the Platte River Valley.

Even though it's not well known, it's probably

one of the most historic towns in the state of Wyoming.

Being in the valley of the Platte,

the ancient people, the original Native Americans,

would follow the game animals through this valley,

so it was very prominent for campsites.

With all the native people, going clear back to the days

of the mammoth hunters.

Coming into the more modern era,

which for me would be the late 1700s, early 1800s,

that's when the European interactions started to occur,

and the Native American tribes here

started to gather more horses, with the horses they become

more mobile and better hunters, and the Platte River Valley

being the home of buffalo, and elk, and every animal known,

this was prime, pristine hunting ground.

As the Oregon Trail started to progress,

Deer Creek was the main camping ground for the pioneers.

When the Mormons got here, Brigham Young,

they went and they caught baskets of fish out at Deer Creek,

and Brigham Young declared this a heaven-sent place,

plus they found bituminous coal

in the banks along the Deer Creek.

They would mine the coal here in Glenrock, for their

blacksmith shop at the Mormon Ferry, up in Casper.

In 1851, because of the coal

and the abundance of resources in the Deer Creek Valley,

they started to build a supply station.

In 1855, Thomas Twiss was the Indian Agent at Fort Laramie.

He had hired Joseph Bissonette as an interpreter.

He came in 1856 and established

a trade station on the trail.

Bissonette's Trading Post was used as a home station

when the Pony Express came through.

Well, in 1861 when the telegraph station came through,

they built the first telegraph station there.

So in 1862, the military was sent in here,

and it was the 11th Ohio Cavalry.

They built Deer Creek Station around the telegraph station,

with Bissonette's Trading Post across the road from it.

There are many, many Oregon Trail diaries

that mention Deer Creek Station,

and along the way they talk about the hardships,

because at the time they wanted to get cooking,

so they would unload everything that wasn't necessary,

and the trail was said to be littered with cast-off items.

The Oregon Trail was rough coming though here.

There are more known graves along the Pioneer Trails

in Converse County, Wyoming, than in any other county

and any other state, along the trail system.

In the 1880s is when Glenrock actually came to be.

The Missouri Fremont Elkhorn Railroad was coming north,

and of course any time there's a railroad going,

that's big business.

So, there would be mining camps,

and the first mining camp they called Mercedes.

In 1885, William Nuttall came in here to Mercedes,

and started another camp, because he is the one that started

the actual, real modern mining in Box Elder Canyon.

They named the town Nuttall, after him.

And it was at that same time that John Higgins,

who built the building that we're in right now,

he came to the Deer Creek Valley in 1885.

The railroad had reached Douglas in 1886.

And in 1887 it came to Glenrock.

Where the rock and glen is west of town,

is where the original railroad depot,

that was the end of the line.

The people decided, well we're gonna have a regular post

office, we need to have an official town name,

and so they decided on Glenrock for the rock,

the rock in the glen, Glenrock.

(soft guitar music)

With the railroad depot being right across from it,

John Higgins started to build different

mercantile businesses and of course as a township

it built and the town of Glenrock came to be.

Glenrock was just a rail town and a cattle town.

Coal, they had the coal mines.

In 1913 that all changed.

In 1913, they discovered oil in the Big Muddy Anticline.

In 1916, Merritt Oil drilled the first real well

out in the Big Muddy oil field.

At that time, the Big Muddy oil field was one of the largest

oil fields in the continental United States.

With the energy boom coming, you know how Wyoming is

with booms, John Higgins decided

that he was going to build an establishment for his wife.

And so in 1916, he built the Higgins Hotel.

Josephine died in 1924.

And it really screwed John up.

He died two years later.

They never had any children, so it was kind of a quandary.

He bequeathed his entire estate of about $500,000

and so when he bequeathed this to the state of Wyoming,

John owned oil wells out in Big Muddy oil field,

and so those oil wells directly funded

the University of Wyoming in the 1920s.

In the late 60s, early 70s, they started mining,

pit mining, for uranium.

Well, along with the coal and uranium in 1967

they built the Dave Johnston power plant east of town.

The Dave Johnston plant at that time had its own coal mine,

its own railroad, it was a huge employer.

Glenrock had always been part of the game trail,

part of the Indians' movements,

the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express,

everything followed Highway 20/26.

Well, in the 1970s when I-25 came, it was built

a mile south of town, and so that really impacted Glenrock

because when interstate came through,

Glenrock just didn't have the traffic that they once did.

Then they got hit with the 80s, coal mining stopped.

Oil field was down.

Uranium was at a very low point to where

Glenrock just darned near died.

I think it shares that story with a lot of little towns.

But, with Casper being one of the largest hubs

in central Wyoming,

Glenrock kind of re-developed itself as a bedroom community.

If a person was to come to Glenrock today,

there's a lot of different things

that Glenrock has to offer.

We have the Deer Creek history museum

which is just on the west end of town.

In 1994, they found Stephanie Triceratops.

It was a very good specimen.

And as they went on, they found more and more dinosaurs.

And right across the street from us here

is the Glenrock Paleon Museum.

During the summer months, we also have

the Valentine Speedway.

If you get up into Box Elder Canyon,

probably one of Glenrock's best-kept secrets.

In 1920, the county, Converse county, appealed to Congress

wanting to take possession of this canyon

for its natural beauty.

They compared it with the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone

and the Grand Canyon itself for its beauty.

Congress authorized that and Converse County Park

is what it's called now, but that's Box Elder Canyon.

There's not any event that you can say defines Glenrock.

But Glenrock's connected to so much of Wyoming's history

almost like a spider web.

The events that happened in Glenrock, Wyoming, are like a

ripple in time because the impact happened in Glenrock,

but the ripple went out and affected far and wide.

There are many, many different occurrences

where what happened in Glenrock

affected the history of so many places.

- [Narrator] Oh, hello, welcome to Sundance.

This fellow here is named Harry Longabaugh,

but you might know him better as the Sundance Kid.

Before he joined up with Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch,

Harry had his first run-ins with the law

right here in Sundance.

Rocky Kershane will tell us about the kid,

some history of the area, and how Sundance got its name.

But first, Ivan Posey will tell us about the Native American

ritual of the sun dance.

(light acoustic guitar music)

- We talked about the town of Sundance,

and how it got its name, but I think the name

of the ceremony in general

is pretty sacred to many tribes yet.

So it's actually a very strong religious ceremony for us.

The origin changes from tribe to tribe,

they've got different stories.

Some feel that that story came from this gentleman walking,

and he came across a buffalo skull,

and he looked inside that buffalo skull and had a vision,

and seen how this dance was gonna be performed.

I know, but most of 'em are pretty similar

of how this came to be.

It's a ceremony that reflects

good health, and I guess something that keeps

indigenous people stronger throughout the years.

Some may have a lodge, build a lodge

where only 12 or 15 people go in.

Some have 100 dancers in there.

It just depends on who sponsors it and how they go about it.

What I know, 'cause I have participated in a few,

at least on the Wind River, we do not pierce.

Northern Cheyenne and some tribes in South Dakota

still do the piercing yet, where they pierce themselves

and leave scars, and some drag

buffalo skulls around.

Here we just fast for three days and three nights,

the dancers that participate in it.

They welcome in a sunrise, they dance,

they dance hard even though they're thirsty and hungry.

And at the end of the ceremony, then they go eat.

They have a feast, basically.

A lot of tribal people participate, and

go up to the sun dance grounds, and some camp there.

Like I said, it's a means of healing,

it's a means of getting more strength for your tribe, and

something that has been around for a long, long, long time.

You know, it's very powerful

to be in the presence of that ceremony.

- The name Sundance is from the Native American ritual.

As the legend goes, they did it at the base

of Sundance Mountain.

And the early settlers saw them in the early 1870s.

There was a lot of mining to the north of us, and

there were miners and settlers up there.

They saw these ceremonies going on down below

and they called it Sundance and Sundance Mountain.

This whole area was very sacred to them.

They said that they took care of the buffalo,

and they kept them in the valleys

where the green grass was, almost like cattle herds.

And the top of the hills, like Green Mountain,

Inyan Kara, and Sundance Mountain were lookouts,

so they could sit up there and watch the whole valleys,

and looking for other aggressive tribes coming in.

Sundance was a draw because of the gold.

Deadwood was starting to do the big gold rush,

we had gold mines to the north of us

in the Bear Lodge Mountains.

And then when Albert Hogue established a ranch in 1875,

he found there was a lot of freight wagons

coming through, going to Deadwood, in 1876,

and decided he was gonna build a trading post

down by the creek.

And there were more and more people kept coming in,

wanting to buy property from Albert Hogue,

wanting to put a saloon in, wanting to put

a restaurant in, cafes.

And he decided to start selling pieces of his ranch off.

And they ended up calling the town Sundance,

after the mountain.

From the very beginning when he wrote-up the plans,

Sundance was gonna be the county seat.

We were still Dakota territory at this time,

and he knew what he wanted and it happened for him.

We were incorporated in 1887.

He designed the streets, so 12-horse teams

could turn around in, from hauling freight,

so they're extra wide.

Now today, we use them for horse trailers

and RVs to park in the middle.

The gold and the logging industry

is what really got Sundance going.

Back in the 1880s, we had three, four mercantiles,

we had six saloons, we had five churches.

And we're trying to get that back again.

Being off Interstate 90 really helps

to keep the town going.

The Black Hills are a huge draw for us,

and the Devil's Tower, of course.

That will be our draw, will be the tourism.

It's always been a main thoroughfare to the Black Hills.

It was also used by the migration of the buffalo,

by the migration of the elk.

They all came through this valley.

And so, along with them came the Native Americans.

We knew him as Harry Longabaugh.

He was a hired hand that worked on ranches

throughout the area.

He was originally from Pennsylvania, he came out west

and settled with his uncle down in Cortez, Colorado.

From there, when he got old enough, he started working

on ranching, being a ranch hand throughout Colorado,

and Wyoming, and Montana, started working

at the 3V Ranch north of town here, about 30 miles.

And in the fall, the rancher didn't need him anymore,

so he released him, and

he ended up taking a horse and a gun and a saddle with him.

So, we have the indictment papers for him,

in our archival area.

He was 17 years old at the time he was here,

so he was still a kid.

When Sheriff Ryan went to look for him,

a telegraph came out and he said yeah, Harry Longabaugh

is up in Miles City, Montana.

So our Sheriff ran up there and got him,

and then Sheriff Ryan does another strange thing.

With Harry Longabaugh in custody, he decided

to go check on some cattle business in St. Paul.

Around Duluth, the kid escapes.

Sheriff Ryan wrote a letter to the Sundance Times,

telling his story, saying I ended up taking

Harry Longabaugh with me to check on some cattle business,

and he escaped, I'm sorry. (laughing)

So when he got back to Sundance, it was a couple weeks

later, there was another telegraph

going, Harry's still in Miles City.

What's going on?

So that little timeline is a little odd for us,

'cause we really don't know if Ryan

was telling the truth or not.

Did he not see him up there?

Did he not find him?

We don't know.

And how did he escape?

He was supposedly shackled to the seat.

From there, he went up and got him again,

this time put him on a stagecoach,

brought him back to Sundance.

They found him guilty of grand larceny

for stealing a horse and a gun, got sentenced for 18 months.

During those 18 months, he tried to escape twice.

He pulled the pins out of the door once,

and he hit the deputy over the head the other time.

Both times he was caught.

They brought him back, and about two weeks

before his sentence was up, our justice of the peace

contacted the governor and said

we got Harry Longabaugh in here.

I was wondering if we could let him go on early release,

on good behavior, even though he tried to escape twice.

(laughing) And the governor

said sure, we can do that.

They did that a lot back then.

A lot of early releases and,

like I said, the kid had to have been a smooth talker.

He had 'em under his thumb.

He knew what he could do and couldn't do.

So when he left, he had a clean record

and he was known as Harry Longabaugh

until he hooked up with the Wild Bunch.

And they started robbing the banks and trains,

and since he was sentenced here for 18 months as a kid,

they called him the Sundance Kid.

(light acoustic guitar music)

The City of Sundance has embraced it very well.

The townspeople are having trouble with us

having a statue of The Sundance Kid,

but he is such a big draw.

They see how many people sit on the bench

next to the Sundance Kid, and get their photo taken.

And they're finally accepting that

we're not immortalizing him, we are using him

as a draw for tourists.

With everything that's been going on in the last

couple years, of how tourism has really

come to the main point for Sundance,

they're realizing that the Kid is our draw

and we've gotta use him.

People still see remnants of the old town,

the wide streets.

You can go out, up in the hills,

and in the prairies, and still see the remnants

of the Native Americans, the stone rings you can find,

the artifacts you can find.

Even when you walk at night, in town,

the smell of the pine trees come down,

walk downtown and they say it feels different here.

You can feel the history, just a unique area.

We're nestled in-between two mountains,

beautiful little downtown area,

cool summer nights, just a beautiful, beautiful area,

and you kind of feel why we're here, and

why the Native Americans were here.

You can touch it, you can feel it, you can smell it.

It's all pretty cool.

(light acoustic guitar music)

- We hope you've enjoyed this What's in a Name edition

of Main Street Wyoming.

If there are other unique names in Wyoming

you'd like to see explored, or have other ideas

for Main Street, please send us an email

at mainstreetwyoming@wyomingpbs.or.

Thank you.

(light pop music)

- [Narrator] Production funding for Main Street Wyoming

is provided in part by the Wheeler Family Foundation

of Casper, and by the members of Wyoming PBS.

Thank you.

The Description of What's In A Name? (Sundance, Glenrock and Thermopolis) - Main Street, Wyoming