Hot Springs Wyoming

Page 1





Vol. 3, Issue 1




DINOSAURS Visit Hot Springs County virtually!

Tom Walsh

O U T L AW Country - PAYROLL HEIST: A Thief Among Us -

Cowboy and early pioneer Tom Walsh was over six feet tall and would have topped seven except for the humped shoulders that gave him the appearance of a giant mosquito. This stooped way of walking earned him the nickname “Humpy the Boar Ape”. He was also known as “Irish Tom” for his thick Gaelic brogue that “could have been cut with a cleaver”. Harry Webb, a cowboy who knew Irish Tom personally, tells of the time the likable old-timer was robbed at gunpoint. It was in the late 1800’s and Walsh was working for Jacob Price on the M Bar Ranch. Walsh often had the chore of going to the bank in Thermopolis, thirty miles away to bring back the cash for the monthly payroll. One payday, Walsh rode alone along an old wagon trail. He was humped over his saddle horn, humming an Irish tune. Suddenly, two holdup men with bandanas covering their faces stepped out from behind the thick brush lining the road. Brandishing their six-shooters, the thieves ordered Walsh to put his hands in the air and drop his gun. When Walsh started to take off his gun belt one of the robbers yelled, “Keep those paws up!” “How th’ divil c’n I onbuckle without me hands?” he asked in his thick accent. “Alright,” he was told, “but one crooked move and your brains’ll be fertilizing the grass!” Picking up the dropped belt and .45, they demanded, “Now where’s the money?” “In me saddle pockets,” Walsh answered. “Git it,” the robber ordered. “Kin I use me hands?”

him, the highwaymen finally decided to let Walsh go. They backed away from the frightened Walsh, retrieved their hidden mounts and rode away. Walsh made his own escape and dashed off to the M Bar Ranch. Once there, he told everyone present how four thieves had stepped out of the thicket with guns drawn. He had slid off the opposite side of his horse and got in one shot, wounding one robber. However, before he could get off another shot, his horse had kicked him down and he was overpowered. Foreman Price was furious and blamed Walsh for the robbery, accusing him of letting half the people in Thermopolis know he had all that money. It was during this tirade, that one of the cowboys stood up. Without a word, he took the bank envelope from a shelf and handed it to Price. Then, with a big grin, the prankster produced Walsh’s gun and holster. Embarrassed, Walsh claimed he thought he had recognized the voices. This prank so upset him that he quit the M Bar Ranch. It also affected the ranch because from then on, the M Bar did business only by checks. Irish Tom Walsh remained in the area. He started his own cattle operation and ran around three hundred head on the east side of the Big Horn River from Thermopolis. He had quite a few rustlers working for him over the years and so, according to Tim McCoy, his outfit was known throughout the Big Horn Basin as the 'Outlaw Wagon'. In later years, Walsh served as sheriff. In 1913, he was appointed as one of the first Justice of Peace of the newly formed Hot Springs County. He was now properly deputized to catch any would-be robbers!

“Use your feet for all I give a damn,” one of the robbers yelled, “but out with it!” A puff of dust flew up as the fat envelope of cash was tossed on the ground. Walsh started to ride off but they shouted at him to stop. After a loud whispered conversation about killing

M-Bar Ranch Cowboys Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs






Chairman Carl Leyba Quality Inn

Misty Weidemann Graphic Designer

Vice Chair Sherman Skelton ARBNB & Vrbo, “River View Guesthouse”

Jackie Dorothy Author

Secretary Michael Sinclair Thermopolis Hardware Hanks


Treasurer Audra Dominguez Vrbo, “The Shalom Home” Audra’s Copper Coo

Visit Wyoming’s

Favorite Hot Springs!

Dr. William Robinson D.D.S. Paintbrush Dental Owl Creek Graphics


Dean King Editor Keith Estenson Copy Editor Historical Photographs courtesy of Hot Springs County Museum & University of Wyoming

Ryan Shaffer P6 Restaurant

PO Box 927 Thermopolis, Wyoming 82443

Wyoming Office of Tourism Rep. Quintin Blair Blair Hotels

Tourism Director Jackie Dorothy

HOTSPRINGSWYOMING.COM Copyright 2022 Hot Springs County Lodging Tax Board


Scenic Nine Hole Golf Course open to visitors and tourists! No membership required Open until October, weather permitting Full-Service Bar Restaurant

Reserve your tee time today at or call us at 307-864-5294



Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

WEDDING of the

WATERS The Wedding of the Waters is the only known place in the world where one river changes name midstream. The Wind River becomes the Big Horn River as it emerges from the Wind River Canyon. This strange phenomenon occurred because early explorers thought they were mapping out two rivers, not one. The terrain through the rugged Wind River Canyon was so impassable that few realized the mistake until it was too late. In 1811, an early trapper, Wilson Price Hunt, was part of the first expedition to cross the continent after Lewis and Clark. He wrote in his journal: “We reached the banks of the Big Horn, here called the Wind River because the wind blows so continually that the snow never remains on the ground.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS Inside Cover ........................................... Outlaw Country Page 2......................................... Wedding of the Waters

By 1860, frustration was growing over the dual names. General William Raynolds, travel companion of Jim Bridger, also wrote about the Big Horn River changing names to the Wind River.

Page 3......................................Royalty Visits the Canyon Page 4..........................................................Smokey Row Page 6..............................................The Screaming Mimi

“It should properly be called the Big Horn. By the trappers, however, it is always spoken of as the Wind River until it enters the canyon some 30 miles below here. There is no good reason for this arbitrary distinction, whereby the same stream passes into the mountains under one name and emerges with another, and it is necessary that these facts be known to avoid confusion.”

Page 8......................................................The Tepee Pool Page 10........................ Historic Downtown Thermopolis Page 11................................................ Downtown Today Page 12................. Wyoming Whiskey, 10th Anniversary Page 14............................ Slick Nard: Outlaw & Lawman

This confusion continued and through the years, others tried to correct the mistake. According to the journal kept by Major Forsyth, on July 2, 1877 General Sheridan designated an area for the name change.

Page 16....................... The Bison of Hot Springs County Page 18.................................... Hot Springs County Map Page 20.......................................................... Take a Hike

“Today General Sheridan has decided to call the stream below the junction of the Popo Agie, Beaver Creek and North Fork of Wind River the Big Horn and the old North Fork only will retain the name of Wind River.”

Page 22........................................................ Anchor Dam

General Sheridan’s proposal was never adopted and for over one hundred years, no one could agree where the name change actually occurred. It took the Chamber of Commerce to make the distinction. In the 1930’s, the Thermopolis Chamber placed a sign to mark the official spot where the river changes names.

Page 28............................................... Grass Creek Oasis

This area, at the northern mouth of the Wind River Canyon, is the Wedding of the Waters. It is a popular boat dock where fisherman, kayakers and tubers launch off for a day of play on the Bighorn River - with the Wind River at their back.

Page 37............................. Zola VanNorman, Ancient Art

Page 24....................... Tim McCoy, The Singing Cowboy Page 26.....................................Picking on the Dinosaurs Page 30............................................... Fishing Our Rivers Page 32..................................... Boysen Dam Beginnings Page 34................... Business Highlight: Nature’s Corner

Cover Photo: Jackie Dorothy


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Roaring Twenties introduced a new spectacle to the Wind River Canyon - sightseeing tourists. In this free-spirited era, the scenic Yellowstone Highway was built in part to accommodate the growing popularity of auto clubs and joyrides. The highway was finished in 1924 and competed directly with the passenger trains that, until then, were the only way to see the sights in the canyon. Not to be Queen Marie outdone and to protect their tourism industry, the railroad built an excursion platform in the canyon for their passenger trains. This stopover was built at Dornick, a former railroad station, and offered tourists a view of Chimney Rock.

Just a year later, in 1926, a stir was created across the nation and in Thermopolis. Headlines announced the arrival of European royalty to America. Queen Marie of Romania arrived in America to great fanfare. New York City gave a ticker-tape parade in her honor and President Coolidge hosted her in his first state dinner at the White House. Excitement bubbled over when she boarded a special train dubbed the “Royal Roumanian” to begin her “Friendship Tour” of the United States. “I want to see real Americans,” Queen Marie told the press that dogged her every step. It had been a dream of hers since World War I had ravaged her country to thank America for their Red Cross efforts. Her whirlwind tour took her through Wyoming and it soon became news that she would be the first known royalty to ever set foot in the Wind River Canyon.

The big day arrived in late October and the “Royal Roumanian” stopped at the Dornick excursion deck. It was a win for the railroad to host such a prominent tourist. Barney Smith, local businessman, was there to witness her arrival and took the photographs that recorded the historic moment as she met with the representatives of Thermopolis. Smith later wrote the impressive fact that the train was pulling twelve coaches. The passenger trains eventually lost their tourists to the automobiles and they no longer run through the canyon. However, you can take your own driving tour of the Wind River Canyon Scenic By-Way. See for yourself the towering Chimney Rock that Queen Marie and her party stopped to admire nearly one hundred years ago.

Queen Marie and the Royal Roumanian in the Wind River Canyon in 1926

Quality Apparel and Accessories for Everyone!

THERMOPOLIS & WYOMING GEAR FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY Custom Embroidery and Screen Printing Carhartt® Red Wing & Irish Setter Work Boots • 307-864-4695 • 527 Broadway Street • Thermopolis



Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

SMOKEY ROW: A COMMUNITY The outlaws built a cabin at Smoky Row and put up a stone hut that they used as a bathhouse. They had to go to Fort Brown, present day Fort Washakie, for their provisions which was 75 miles to the south, over Mexican Pass. They kept their horses in Virgil Rice’s pasture on Owl Creek, 10 miles to the north from their cabin site. There were few visitors at the springs then, according to Totty, but little things like distance and isolation were taken as part of the day’s work by the men who blazed the trail into the country.

The once vibrant community of Smokey Row has disappeared into the murky past. Now part of the Bison Pasture in Hot Springs State Park, it was located just east of the Star Plunge Pool. The bubbling hot springs filled the air with a distinct rotten egg smell. The early pioneers drank this water for their medicinal health. Tents and private baths dotted the landscape. Dugouts were built into the hillside with dirt floors, sod roofs and stone walls. The smoke from the camp fires settled into the gulch instead of being funneled up and away from the camp. As a result of this thick cloud, the popular shanty town became known as Smoky Row. Since the mid-1800’s, trappers and entire families of early pioneers would vacation at the hot springs, making their temporary home in the red gulch. An early visitor had commemorated his visit by etching a stone with a star and the date 1846. Over twenty years before the land was given to the Shoshone tribe as part of the Bridger Treaty of 1868.

their six-shooters. It was eerily quiet, without any shouting or cursing from the thieves. No words were exchanged as they gestured for the card players to turn their faces around and put their hands on the stone wall of the dugout. The outlaws quietly helped themselves to the money in sight and hastily departed. They were robed in bathing costumes and unrecognizable to their victims. With their money gone and lives spared, the card players drifted back to their own dug outs. The Big Horn Pilot reported on the incident, noting that no one was saying exactly how much money was lost. Another infamous outlaw, Butch Cassidy, is known to have holed up in Smoky Row in-between robberies and working on local ranches. Members of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang, Nate Champion, Mike Brown, Jack Donahue and Jack Totty, spent the winter of 1887 at the springs while it was still part of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Not all was always serene in Smoky Row. During a midnight card game, two masked thieves came rushing into a dirt-floor dugout where they knew that money was exchanging hands. It was August 1887 and a Friday night when the outlaws barged in, brandishing

Smokey Row Cemetery


When settlement of the area was allowed in 1897, the outlaws were replaced by the law abiding citizens. One such pioneering family, the Gaylors, came to Thermopolis with their two small daughters. They spent the first winter in Smoky Row gulch in a dugout covered with a canvas tent to keep out the cold and snow.

First Bath House at the Hot Springs

Smoky Row continued to be an active community. Located behind the Star Plunge pool in the Reserve, it was a series of cabins and simple dugouts. After the families moved on to their new homes, Smoky Row became known as a place full of late night laughter and talk. One early pioneer said, “Every man carried a gun of some kind but they were seldom called into use and there was little quarreling and fighting. The crowds that were camped at the springs were jolly and willing to gamble that their dollar was luckier than the other fellows.” Such robberies were taken almost lightly in those early days, according to an editor of the Thermopolis Record in the 1930’s who reminisced about the by-gone days. Jack Hollywood, an early pioneer and businessman, ran one of the first saloons

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

in the area. It was a simple dugout with dirt floors and a rock wall in Smoky Row. According to this old-timer, “One night, when all was serene, and the fellows around the table in a dugout ruled over by Stanley Miller, a gambler who was carrying a bullet in one leg as the result of a gambling fracas in Red Lodge, were betting on who held the best card, the door opened gently and the muzzle of a six-shooter preceded a masked bandit. This fellow calmly told the fellows to get up and line themselves up against the wall. He calmly removed all the valuables from the tables and the pockets of the victims and made his exit as unconcerned as he came in. I know about it for I contributed about seven dollars to the collection!”

Within just a decade, things had calmed down at Smoky Row and most of the businesses had moved into Thermopolis. It was noted in the Big Horn River Pilot in January 1898, “Every cabin in Smoky Row across the river is inhabited. The denizens of that section amuse themselves nightly playing cards for matches. It is rather amusing to see a man start out to visit his neighbor with two or three boxes of matches in his hand, to spend the evening, but such is the fact, and the ‘boys’ enjoy the amusement.”

e m o c l e W


Whether you are buying or selling, WHO YOU WORK WITH MATTERS!


ROUNDTOP REAL ESTATE, LLC Mark Manig, Broker Kerri Manig, Associate Broker 508 Arapahoe St., Thermopolis WY 307.864.2252


By the early 1900’s, Smoky Row was abandoned and in 1907, the old stone cabins and dugouts were torn down by construction workers expanding the Star Plunge pools. All that remains is the Smoky Row Cemetery as a reminder of the times of old. Today, visitors can take the driving tour through the Bison Pastures, hike Monument Hill and tour the Smoky Row Cemetery, walking where “colorful characters” once camped at the Hot Springs more than 175 years ago.

He added, “Some were disconcerted, others smiled, some laughed and, in the end, it was decided to be quite a joke as the game was brought to a definite close with nothing to play for. The balance of the evening was spent in telling of similar scenes in other places and discussing the wickedness of the world.”


Women also visited Smoky Row that winter of 1898. It was shared in the social section of the newspaper, “Quite a number of the fair sex visited Smoky Row Sunday. Cannot guess the attraction unless it was the new barber.”

• Free hot breakfast • Free parking • Free wifi

• Refrigerator • Microwave • Air conditioning

• Concierge • 24-hour front desk • 24-hour check-in

116 E Park St • Thermopolis, WY 307-864-2939

1. Call Us 2. We’ll handle the rest of the steps.



Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

The Screaming Mimi

Screams filled the air and H. Scott Taylor grinned. His new slide

was dubbed the Screaming Mimi in honor of his mother, Mimi, and screaming thrill seekers. From 1952 and into the 1970’s, swimmers could brave the ride at Star Plunge for 10 cents. Those who dared – or were dared - lugged a heavy wooden cart with metal wheels up steps built into the side of the red hill. An attendant greeted the rider and helped set the cart on the metal tracks. The attendant then held the cart steady with their foot while the thrill seeker would situate themselves on the cart. Once the rider was seated upright, the attendant would release the sled, often giving the cart an extra boost with a hard push. The ride started off on a level slope and quickly accelerated as the track’s descent grew steeper. The speed would continue building so that when the rider hit the mineral hot pool, the cart would skim over the water. The more adventurous riders pulled back on the handles and laid down. This made the sled buck and hop over the water, much like a skipping rock. “We would have contests,” Scott’s daughter-in-law, Kathy, remembered. “We would go down as fast as we could to try and hit the far wall.”

Screaming Mimi Postcard

We have a full selection of bits, tack, hats, boots, western wear, fishing gear, hunting supplies, Arbuckle coffee and unique gifts!

If someone hit the far wall of the pool, they would win 12 free rides. It wasn’t an easy feat, “In all the years we worked at the Star,” Wedgwood, Scott’s son, said, “only once did I see someone make it to the wall. That was one in a thousand who went the distance!” H. Scott Taylor, who dreamed up the Screaming Mimi, was an idea man from back East. He attended Dartmouth and Cornell with plans of becoming a master apple tree pruner. During his years in college, his best friend and roommate set him up with a Scott Taylor, building the blind date in Thermopolis. This outdoor pools at Star Plunge changed the direction of his life when the date was successful and he married Ercil Thompson.



8:00am – 5:30pm Monday - Saturday

After World War II and having served in the Navy, Scott tried his hand at managing a chicken farm in Connecticut with his wife Ercil. When he decided that wasn’t what he wanted in life, he borrowed money from his mother-in-law and the young married couple bound a train for Hot Springs County where

180 US Highway 20 S. Thermopolis, WY 307-864-3047


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

As for the Star Plunge, it was sold to Wolfgang Luehne and his family in the 1970’s. The Screaming Mimi was eventually sold to a water park in Denver where it remains as a popular attraction. Wolfgang’s son Roland continues to run the pool to this day. Today, the Star Plunge boasts a large outdoor slide for the brave of heart. Visitors can grab a mat and hike up to the top of the red bluffs before sliding down in a thrilling ride into the hot water below.

Star Plunge, Screaming Mimi Courtesy of Wedg Taylor

they had just bought the Star Plunge. The Star Plunge featured just one indoor pool in a wooden building. Scott built an outdoor pool and grew his business. He was passionate about water safety and swimming, paying out of his own pocket for instructors so he could offer free lessons to local kids.

View from the top of the Screaming Mimi

During this time, he was hired as the Superintendent of the Hot Springs State Park and oversaw the growth of the park as well. After quitting the park over a dispute about a new bridge, Scott continued to run the Star Plunge and investing in his community. He even introduced the first cable television to the county and Wedg recalls burying the cable lines for the new service.

Go ahead. Give it a try. It’s a scream!


With a business partner, Scott bought land just north of the Hot Springs State Park. This property had its own hot springs for his private use. In 1993, Wedg and Kathy moved to the Red Ranch Retreat. They took over the operation of the property after Scott and Ercil passed away. Today, the couple run the Red Ranch Retreat and rent out the hot springs pond for a private swimming experience in the world famous mineral hot springs. “Dad said it was the best business investment he made that didn’t work out,” Wedg said, gesturing to the pond where Kathy has taught generations of local kids how to swim. “It is a lot of work but well worth it.”

SWIM AND SOAK IN YOUR OWN PRIVATE MINERAL HOT SPRINGS POND! • Secluded Vacation Home with a quiet outdoor venue • Great for families and groups • Sleeps 10 to12 people comfortably • Daily rates available for corporate retreats, parties and family reunions. The Star Plunge, 1950's

• Within walking distance of the Hot Springs State Park, located next to the Bison Pastures FOR RESERVATIONS AND RATES:

Call Wedg or Kathy Taylor 307-864-3231

BUSINESSBARN.COM/RRR • 219 E. River Road • Thermopolis


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

THE TEPEE POOL On June 26, 1967, Darrel Hunt turned over the first shovelful of

dirt during the ground-breaking ceremonies for his new spa in the Hot Springs State Park.

Sesame Chicken

His $250,000 facility featured a unique tepee design which was built out of polyurethan and towered over the pool. He named this new healing business the Tepee Pool and Spa and had big dreams. Hunt and his wife, Ann, were both registered physical therapists and planned to provide Swedish massages and an exercise program to their customers.

• Trained Chef from Albany, New York • Fresh Ingredients

However, within a year of his grand opening, Hunt sold the pool to Jim and Margaret Mecca. The Mecca's dived into the business full time and eventually had a regulation pool, soaking pool, wading pool and a pizza parlor. Jim managed the Tepee Pool while Margaret, in addition to assisting at the pools, was a full-time teacher in the local school district.

• All sauces and meals made from scratch Lo Mein Seafood

• Curry, Stir-fry, Noodles • Shrimp, Beef, Chicken & Vegetarian dishes • Dine-in or Take Out Available F I V E S TA R R AT I N G O N T R I P A D V I S O R :

Nua Ka Ting

“Seriously unexpected to find one of the best Thai restaurants this side of Thailand!”


Tepee Pool, 1968


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Hellie’s Tepee Pools

On Valentine’s Day 1975, an early morning fire blazed through the Tepee Pool and Spa. The damage was estimated at $850,000. Mecca was determined to rebuild the Tepee Pool and his family business This time, the fire marshal stepped in and said the polyurethan structure had been too flammable. The tepee was replaced with a new dome shaped building made of cedar, a type of wood that retains moisture without rotting away. Mecca kept the tepee name and continued to manage the pool. After almost 30 years, Mecca was ready to retire and sold his pools. Dan Moriarity became the new manager for the Tepee Pool. During Moriarity's tenure as manager, the company briefly changed the name to Hot Springs Water Park but encountered an unexpected issue. Nobody could remember

that name and could not find them in the Yellow Pages. When the company decided to change the name back to Tepee Pool, they did so with one minor change. Moriarity’s Mom, Helen, could no longer take care of herself and was alone in Montana. To convince her to move to Thermopolis, her son promised to put her name in lights. Moriarity kept his word. Each night when she would go to her window at the Pioneer Home, Helen, nicknamed ‘Hellie’, would see her name lit up. The pool had been renamed Hellie’s Tepee Pools in her honor. Hellie’s Tepee Pools is one of three pools that you can visit in Hot Springs State Park. It features outdoor and indoor pools, slides, hot tubs, a steam cave and a wading pool. Swim, soak, slide and stay at Wyoming’s world-famous hot springs in Thermopolis!


Swim, Soak, Slide, Stay!


Our indoor pools include a main pool with a waterfall, slide, baby pool, hot tubs, steam room and dry sauna. Three outdoor hot tubs are great for soaking your sore muscles away! Large group discounts and military discounts available. Weekly, monthly and yearly memberships. Open 7 days a week 9am-9pm.

144 Tepee Street • Thermopolis 307-864-9250

TEPEEPOOLS.COM Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


THE R MOPOL I S The Smoke House

EXPLORE A Treasure Trove of Hidden Riches

Your shopping adventure in Thermopolis can include the Past, Present & Future of Hot Springs County!

Refurbished furniture, creative castoffs, and all things vintage. 517 Broadway, Downtown Thermopolis Barb Rice • 307-921-8540

Tony Pisto watches over the Smoke House. It was a poolhall that offered gambling, cigars and a soda fountain.

“The Smoke House was the hangout,” Randy Wahler reminisced about his high school days in the 1960s. “We played pool all the time and our parents liked it because they knew where we were.” “All the kids bought their cigarettes in Sawyers (Grocery Store) because he sold them to you even if he knew you were young. I bought Philip Morris for twentytwo cents a pack at the time.” The boys then would head back to the Smoke House where everyone smoked and chewed. However, they had to hide the fact when the sheriff would come in. Sheriff Eddie Todorovich played Pitch and Pan card games in the back room, the forbidden territory for the underage crowd. “When he came to the Smoke House,” Randy said, “you’d have to throw your cigarette down because he’d give you fits over smoking because you were not old enough.” “But then he’d come over to the guy he knew that chewed and would tell him, ‘Give me a chew’.” Randy laughs at the fifty-yearold memory. “Eddie would take his can, which was empty, and he’d dip out about half of theirs and put it in his and off he’d go. Well, what are you going to say to the sheriff? You weren’t suppose to have the snuff in the first place!”

1961 Odd Fellows

The high schoolers played snooker on the well-kept felt tables and Randy, along with his best friend Mike McKinner, got so good at the game that they could play all night on a quarter.

Roundtop General Store

The boys also used Smoke House tokens to play the pinball ball machine. “If we won, we couldn’t collect the money because we were underage. Occasionally we could find someone who would cash the tokens in for us but generally, we just racked up our points.”

118 N 5th St., Thermopolis Norma Smith • 307-921-9852

Randy remembers the old cowboys who would come in and walk straight to the back rooms, “They had it all blocked off where they played Pitch and stuff. It was gambling and it was illegal as all get out. They’d always walk right by us and they’d spit in those spittoons.”

Flip furniture, create masterpieces, frames, signs, shirts, hands, tumblers - you name it, we create it.

The Smoke House was dirty, full of smoke and tobacco. For generations it was a place full of stories and laughter as the men and boys of Thermopolis would play the night away in this historic building. The Smoke House has been renovated and is now home to Nature’s Corner where you can step back into time under the tin ceiling. If you close your eyes, you might even just hear the echo of a card game being played in the forbidden back rooms.

Antique store specializing in Thermopolis treasures! Judy Carswell • 307-921-8264

A little shop with a little bit of everything, hardly used, used to well used. 439 Clark St., Thermopolis Todd Davis 307-864-3541 • 406-217-8777 FIND US ON FACEBOOK ON OUR INDIVIDUAL PAGES


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


"We serve fresh, homemade food,” Jennifer Arends said with a smile, sitting at a table in the Black Bear Café. “Nothing is frozen. Our potatoes are home fried and specially seasoned.” Black Bear Café is a family-owned restaurant specializing in downhome cooking. Jennifer and her husband, Pat, moved to Thermopolis in 2011 from Monument, Colorado to manage the business for friends who had also moved from Monument. A few years later, the couple bought the café and now run it as a family business. “It’s a lot like Cheers,” Arends explained, referring to the popular 1980’s tv series centering around a home town bar. “We are a friendly place with a lot of regulars we know by name.” The menu features all American food, “Our humongous cinnamon rolls are famous among the locals,” Arends said with well-deserved pride. “And I’ve been told our pork green chili is the best around!” Located downtown in a historic building, Black Bear Café is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 6am to 2pm, the café is a great place for all-day breakfast and lunch - especially if you just want good, home-cooked meals and to never leave hungry.


Ellen Reed was looking for a new adventure when she found

out the Storyteller, a bookstore and coffee shop, was for sale. “When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it!” she explained.

That was in August 2009 and since then, she has expanded what she sells and is always looking for new items. She enjoys visiting with her regulars and meeting visitors traveling through the area. “There’s not many options in a small town so I try to offer the things that people are looking for,” Ellen said. This includes local history books, inspirational gifts, Wyoming-made jewelry, toys and special orders. Coffee has always been the center of their bookstore although that has also evolved over time, “It was already a coffee bar and we sourced our coffee beans from elsewhere. However, my nephew had other ideas that would help us control the quality of the coffee beans.”


Home of Jackrabbit Java Coffee

Her nephew, Josh Thomas, wanted to roast coffee beans locally and create their own unique blends. Ellen agreed to give roasting a try after they visited a coffee fest and saw it done for themselves. Jackrabbit Java was launched in December 2013 and is now an award-winning coffee brand. It is the only coffee roasted in Hot Springs County.

Located in the heart of

downtown Thermopolis

524 BROADWAY 307-864-3272

“Our house drip is rated as a superior coffee and we have won national awards through Coffee Reviews,” she said. “We take pride in knowing how to make a cup of coffee right and have had people from Italy say it was the best Macchiato they have had in America.”

@storytellerwyo @jackrabbitjava


Located in downtown Thermopolis, the Storyteller is a local hotspot and one you won’t want to miss!


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

The whiskey barrel is being emptied for bottling.

Celebrating 10 years of Wyoming’s First Legal Bourbon:

WYO M ING WHIS K E Y When Brad and Kate Mead bought their new ranch in Kirby, Kate wanted a winery. The fourth generation Wyominites had decided to diversify their business ventures and on the short list was a vineyard. However, the arid region of Hot Springs County was better suited for growing grains than grapes.

their proposed venture because, according to Max, it would take three times as long, be three times as hard and be three times as expensive as the partners expected. By now, however, the idea was firm in their minds and they were not to be deterred. In fact, their plans grew only bigger and more expansive than they first imagined.

In June 2006, David DeFazio, fellow lawyer, friend and business partner, was told by Brad, “Kate and I have decided we want to make bourbon.”

By January 2007, Brad announced to Kate, “We just bought a still.”

Dave responded, “How the hell do you make bourbon?”

“Will it fit in our garage?” she asked. “No,” he had to admit. “Its 38 feet tall.”

“That’s for you to figure out.”

Their new whiskey facility was built around the larger still and the colors were chosen by Kate to specifically blend into the red and brown landscape of Kirby. The distillery itself was designed to resemble the grain elevators as a tribute to those commonly seen throughout the region.

With this directive from Brad, David plunged into the world of bourbon with a mission to create the state’s first legal distillery. By fall of that year, his research led the men to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival where they began to learn firsthand about the industry of bourbon making.

In the summer of 2007, Brad sunk the ceremonial first shovel into the ground and construction began. That same year, Steve

One of their new acquaintances was Max Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Distillery. He actually attempted to dissuade them from


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Nally, their future Master Distiller, was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Beginning as a warehouse guard at Maker’s Mark, Steve had worked his way through the ranks to become a distiller, the top position at Maker’s. He continued in that job until his retirement after 33 years of being in the bourbon business.

They are now distributed nationally so that you can order Wyoming Whiskey across the United States. “I see our whiskies getting better and better with the subtle refinements that we make every day. And I see the brand gaining more and more awareness,” David said when talking about the future of the whiskey. Steve agrees. “I see it to have potential to be a prominent bourbon worldwide.” In 2014, Steve and Donna returned to Kentucky to be closer to family but remember their time in Wyoming with fondness, still returning often to sip on Wyoming Whiskey with their friends in Thermopolis. “To personally be able to build a distillery from the ground up was a great honor,” Steve said. “I will always cherish being part of building the first legal distillery in the state of Wyoming.”

Wyoming Whiskey Still

Up for a new challenge, Steve came out of retirement to accept the position at Wyoming Whiskey as head distiller. He relocated to Wyoming with his wife, Donna, who was also a Maker’s Mark alumni and future inductee into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

2022 marks the 10th anniversary of this unique bourbon which, with its flavor profile and local grains, has a unique taste that contains the wind and spirit of Wyoming. In celebration, a 10-year old bourbon that Steve made will be released in December 2022 that will only be available in Wyoming and select markets. Free Whiskey Tastings are held at the Wyoming Whiskey Gift Shop in Kirby where limited edition Whiskeys and gear can be bought. You can also visit them virtually at

Celebrate Wyoming Whiskey!

Steve tested his recipes in true moonshiner style. To develop a wheated small batch bourbon, the original recipe for Wyoming Whiskey, Steve used an old, copper moonshiner’s still that was on loan from Callum Mackay of Kelly, Wyoming.

For a truly unique and enjoyable experience, dine and drink amongst our collection of big game trophies.

Brad and David had envisioned a medium bodied and softer bourbon than the traditional Kentucky bourbons. With this goal in mind, and the moonshiner still, Steve experimented with a number of yeasts before settling on a preliminary taste profile that met his approval. The ceremonial start of Wyoming Whiskey production was made on July 4th, 2009. Three years later, the first bottles were released to the public.

Our menu has a wide variety of entrees ranging from homemade soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, slow roasted Prime Rib, hand cut steaks, pasta, buffalo hamburgers and much more.

Remembering those first years, David remarked, “I think fondly of our grand opening on December 1st, 2012 when thousands from Wyoming, and the United States, descended on Kirby to celebrate. The Governor, retired Senator Alan Simpson, family, friends, strangers… it was awesome.”

Catch a trout out of the Big Horn River and we’ll cook it for you!

However, David said the early release was a mistake. “The toughest issue I still face is meeting people that tried our first bourbon and have refused to try it again. The bourbon was too young and we had not yet dialed in our quality control.” Since that first batch’s release, Wyoming Whiskey has finetuned the aging process to coincide with the different climate of Wyoming from that of Kentucky. They have improved every batch since that first one, a claim they make with confidence since they have gone on to win awards and accolades across the county.

• R E S TAU R A N T & L O U N G E •


Call us for hours and catering options: 307-864-3131


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Arnold “Slick” Nard played both sides of the law. He was a likable young cowboy of Dutch heritage who during the late 1800’s alternated between being a deputy sheriff and horse thief.

Instead, Bliss stopped for a brief second. He then ran for his gun. According to Nard, there was no time to lose and the boys opened fire. Bliss fell forward on his face, only making it a little more than half the distance to his gun.

Nard had arrived in Wyoming in 1884 when he was 21, coming up the trail from Texas. On June 24, 1888, he married sixteenyear-old Jennie Hollywood of Paint Rock, Johnson County. She was the younger sister of Jack Hollywood, a saloon owner in Old Thermopolis with an infamous bad temper.

At first Nard said he was suspicious and thought Bliss was faking his death. However, he soon confirmed that the thief was dead. The deputies took charge of the camp, ate supper and slept soundly all night. The next morning, they notified the other men of the posse who, after viewing the body, wrapped it in Bliss’ bed roll and left the remains within ten miles of the top of the Wind River Mountain Range.

By 1890, the young married man and his best friend, Jack Bliss, were part of a loose-knit band of horse thieves roving around Lost Cabin. During this time, he earned the nickname “Slick” because of his successful cattle and horse rustlings. For a time, he even rode with Kid Curry and his gang of train robbers.

Nard took the scalp and both ears of Bliss as proof of his death. He presented these to collect the bounty from the stockmen who had hired the hit. However, it was later rumored that Bliss had actually fled to Canada and that the victim had actually been some innocent range rider.

Late in December 1891, Nard turned informant for the law. He had a choice between helping local ranchers catch horse thieves or go to prison himself. Choosing freedom, Nard gave up intelligence on the location of accused horse thieves Butch Cassidy and Al Hainer which led to their arrest.

Nard continued on as a deputy, tracking down and killing another outlaw in the line of duty. This time he was in Green River and shot Ed Winkley, a 30-year-old Colorado horse thief who had murdered Sheriff Byron Smith in Lander.

The following year, Nard was a fulltime deputy under Sheriff Charles Stough. Nard’s wife and children were living in Lander as he chased down outlaws, most notably his former best friend, Jack Bliss.

Nard appeared to continue to skirt the law and in May of 1893, he was arrested in Lander for stealing horses. He was released almost immediately after being brought in front of Judge Irwin and returned back to his work as deputy.

In June 1892, Bliss met his end. Deputies Nard and Shuck had discovered the outlaw’s horse and saw smoke coming up from behind a large rock. Nard stationed himself near the rocky bluff and Shuck got in position to cut off an escape into the near-by timber should Bliss try to run.

By November 1894, however, he was out of a job in Lander. Sheriff Stough had chosen not to run for the office again and the new sheriff of Fremont County did not hire Nard back as deputy. Nard drifted up to the Big Horn Hot Springs where he was hired by the McGrath family living at the old town of Thermopolis.

They didn’t have long to wait. Bliss came out from his place of concealment and headed toward his gun which he had left by the fire. Within eighty yards from his gun, they yelled out to him to surrender.

The McGrath’s had no clue that their new hired hand was an outlaw, once belonging to the Kid Currie gang. Nard did his 14

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

chores, played with the children and, according to the family, did not look or act the part of a dangerous criminal. Nard happened to be at the springs one day when Jack Ewing, a sheep shearer, was there. Nard saw Ewing take a large roll of money from his pockets. Sidling closer, Nard then overheard Ewing say that he was leaving town the next day.


T A E A com SE LIN HA p. N C o O R sh PU TE t A l i C u IFI enq ERT




That evening, after returning to the homestead, Nard asked Mrs. Minnie McGrath to pack him a lunch. He explained to his employer that he intended to leave in the morning to hunt some horses and would be gone all day. Innocent of his intentions, Mrs. McGrath wrapped up a big meal for Nard as he requested. The next morning, Nard did all his chores and cut up an unusually large pile of wood before heading out to ‘hunt horses’. About three o’clock that afternoon, a team of beautifully matched gray horses came charging into Old Thermopolis, minus their driver. Men immediately started up Kirby Creek from the direction the team had come and found a wounded Ewing.



rr ebe

Our shop is cozy, down-to-earth, and friendly, and quilters of all ages, styles, and skill levels are welcome here.

PHONE 307-864-3503

Ewing had been attacked at Nowater and gun shots had gone through both arms. His life had been saved when his team panicked and began running off. During the 30-mile wild ride back to town, Ewing had fallen out of the wagon, still hanging on to life.


Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm

The robber’s description matched Nard’s and the evidence piled up against him. His saddle horse’s hooves matched the distinct prints at the scene and the empty shells picked up had strange markings like those from his gun with its broken hammer. Mrs. McGrath identified the paper found at the spot as the one she personally had wrapped around Nard’s lunch.

Saturday 10am - 4pm

5 2 1 B R O A D WAY I N T H E R M O P O L I S , W Y

Local businessmen, Henry Sherrad and Ed O’Reilly, caught Nard when he tried to return to town and brought him to the injured sheep shearer. Ewing shouted out, “That’s the man!” and Nard’s fate was sealed. Since there was no jail in Old Thermopolis, Nard was chained to a log and protected from the mob that wanted to lynch him for the attempted murder. Eventually, the one-time lawman was taken to Buffalo where he was convicted after a 6-minute deliberation from the jury. His wife, Jennie, was granted a divorce the same month that he was sent to the Wyoming State Penitentiary.


In prison, two years after his incarceration, Nard reformed. He became a model prisoner and was released after serving eleven of the fourteen years of his sentence. In 1913, reports of his death in Nebraska made headlines but that wasn’t the end of Nard’s story.

For all your family’s hair & nail care needs.

• Cuts, Styles, Perms, Colors, Hair Care • Nails, Pedicure & Spa with Foot Massage • Hair Care Products & Waxing

In 1917, the Head of Indian police, John Burns, claimed that Nard was still alive. Burns claimed that Nard was actually M. Hoyt, a cowboy entertainer who had come to Lander and had just dyed his hair to change his appearance. This M. Hoyt chatted about old times with Burns who remained convinced that it was his old friend, Arnold “Slick” Nard.


That was the last sighting that was reported of Slick Nard, the outlaw and lawman of Wyoming and Hot Springs County.

215 N. 5th • 864-9355


Beth Benavidez, Owner Kelly Cole Brenda Ralston Brenda Bloom

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Hot Springs State Park Bison Pasture

The red hills were dotted with thousands of massive brown beasts, grazing in the pale green of the sage. Their huffs and thud of hooves filled the air. A giant bull threw himself down and rolled in a wallow, dust flying as he rubbed the flies and ticks off his thick hide. The hunting party readied themselves, picking out their prey with anticipation. It was July 1877 and a party of cavalry soldiers and Sioux scouts, led by General Sheridan, had just spotted the enormous herd of bison. They had been exploring the Bridger Mountain Range in presentday Hot Springs County, then a relatively unknown region. Major George “Sandy” Forsyth was the official recorder of the trip and his words recalled the plentiful bison that once roamed the area. “We made camp on the side of a hill in a winding sort of valley – rough red earth and sage brush, filled with Buffalo – probably 5000 of them.” “This P.M.,” he added in his small journal, “we were almost stampeded by our horses by the Indians driving some Buffalo nearly thro [sic] camp. So far today we have killed 40 Buffalo, Elk and Antelope.”

The hunting continued and on July 5th, Forsyth said, “Detail sent out from cavalry to shoot Buffalo which Indians reported just ahead. Crossed the Bridger trail. Hunters ran the Buffalo across the head of the column and killed 6.” Major Forsyth and his companions were traveling through the Bridger Mountains. Their path took them through the Nowood country, east of modern-day Thermopolis. The land was still untamed and the Civil War veteran reveled in the beauty. He described the trout they caught, the wild animals they hunted and he marveled often on the deep blues of the flowers – especially the Forget-Me-Nots and Larkspur

recently seen a large buffalo bull in the Big Horn Basin, near Fenton.” The reporter added, “The man and his companion were within twenty yards of him, and could have killed him had they desired. He was lame in the left front foot. Paste this in your hat, and you will know him next time you come across him.” One of the last wild bison sighting in Hot Springs County occurred in the 1950’s.

“At 7 P.M. tonight,” Forsyth wrote, “a frightened Buffalo Bull dashed thro our camp. He came down a steep hill and right thro the camp, like a locomotive off the track.” After this close call, with a beast that could weigh up to 3,000 pounds, the men nicknamed their camp, “Camp Stampede”. Fourteen years after Forsyth witnessed the herd of 5,000 bison, it was rare to see the giant beasts. In January 30th, 1891, the Fremont Clipper reported such a sighting. “A writer to the Alamo Argus claims to have 16

George Sandy Forsyth

Major George “Sandy” Forsyth reported seeing herds of 5,000 bison in the Wyoming wilderness of Hot Springs County

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Hake Realty Worland, Ten Sleep, Greybull & Thermopolis

Longtime resident, Martin Andreen, was a young cowboy helping round up cattle with Dave Jones. They were in the Kirby Creek country and Jones was pushing his herd of cows into the corral. The cattle were moving along docilely - with a large bison bull in their midst!





Steven Siebert 307-388-9753

Leidy Karns 307-431-9355 BROKER:

“Dave got down there where I was at with my herd,” Andreen explained, “and then all of a sudden the buffalo started to rolling and scattered our cows and scared our horse. When he took off, he took out about a quarter of a mile of fence when he hooked his horn into the fence and just kept running. He went up a hill and that was the last we've seen of that buffalo.”

Nikki Donahue Say hello to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hake Realty.


The two cowboys had quite the time settling down their horses and cows after the bison was gone. Jones hypothesized that perhaps it had run off from a local ranch or, just maybe, it was the last of the bison that had once roamed the area.

Hake Realty

Full-Service Meat, Produce, Deli, Bakery & Liquor

You don’t have to worry about bison stampedes through your camp today, but visitors to Hot Springs County can have their own bison experience at the Hot Springs State Park. Wyoming’s State Bison Herd can be viewed year-round in the Bison Pasture. The bison can be seen from your car or you can enjoy the hiking trails throughout the park. As you stand above the park, you can imagine what it must have been like to see a herd of 5,000 of the majestic beasts spreading out to the horizon.

Hunting & Fishing Licenses Available Firearm & Ammunition Sales 307-864-3112 600 S. 6th Street Thermopolis Like us on Facebook

Store Hours Mon-Sat: 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM • Sunday: 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Take a Tour of the Hiking Trails of Hot Springs County!

Rainbow Terraces


REBECCA ERK Administrative Assistant

BEN ANSON Sales Associate Farm & Ranch Specialist

CHRISTINE JOHNSTON Associate Broker Owner

Be sure to take along your camera on this 0.6-mile loop trek in the Hot Springs State Park. This is a beautiful boardwalk trail that allows for a close-up view of the terraces and Big Horn River. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 12 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail that is wheelchair and stroller accessible. For the brave of heart, take the detour over the Swinging Bridge for a bird’s eye view of the river below. The boardwalk is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.

STETH DANIELS Responsible Broker Owner

From residential homes and country living to ranches and rocky mountain land, you can find the Wyoming property you are looking for with our experienced agents at Properties West. Thermopolis real estate, between the Wind River Canyon and the Big Horn Basin, offers you the chance to own a part of the real rocky mountain west. 200 N. 6th Street Thermopolis, WY OFFICE: 307-864-2192


TOLL FREE: 1-800-353-4558 FAX: 307-864-2193

Visit Hot Springs State Park website and learn more about the latest trails!



Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Spirit Trail This 1.3-mile nature trail loops around the northern end of the Hot Springs State Park and includes some excellent overlooks of the Bighorn River, the Wyoming State Bison herd, Black Sulphur Spring, and the Devil's Punch Bowl. The route is marked by signs and starts just north of the Big Spring.

Zoo Trail Once upon a time, Thermopolis had a zoo. While only memories may remain, you can walk this short and easy trail where the captive black bears once played. The trailhead begins behind the Star Plunge Pool and takes you on an adventure back through time.

So Much More than a Hardware Store

• Fishing & Hunting Licenses • • Camping & Picnic Supplies • • RV Supplies • • Gifts, Toys, Swim Toys • • Sporting Goods •

Water Fun

Quarry Trail This one-mile loop trail begins and ends at Smoky Row Cemetery, located in the Bison Pasture. It is a short but challenging hike and is also considered a great test of skill for the advanced mountain biker.

Sporting Goods

The Three Peak Challenge! MONUMENT HILL

This trail is a 0.3 mile steep trail and is considered a moderate climb. It is one of the oldest known trails in the State Park. The tradition of conquering the mountain began by an unknown patient in the 1800’s and the climb has been considered ever since as a victory lap of recovery by visitors to the Hot Springs. In the summer of 1915, Hot Springs State Park Superintendent Holdrege made the ascent of the butte easier by building a scenic footpath to the top of Monument Hill.

Home Decor


This newly built one mile hiking trail will reward you with sprawling panoramic views once you reach the summit. Roundtop is one of the geographical sights that greets visitors to Thermopolis and one you will be proud to conquer. The trail has been recently rebuilt to feature switchbacks and a trail that can be used by hikers and mountain bikers.



Digital photo printing • Fast & Easy

Discover this 3.4-mile loop trail located behind the Thermopolis rec center. Built by the Hot Springs Outdoor Alliance in 2019, this hike is considered a moderately challenging route. It takes an average of 1.5 hours to 2 hours to complete either on foot or by mountain bike. This is a well-maintained trail with plenty of switch backs to make it easier to climb. A bench at the top lets hikers rest and enjoy the amazing view.



Parking for All Size Vehicles

158 Hwy 20 S. Thermopolis, WY 307-864-3672

8am-6pm Mon.-Sat. Noon-4pm Sun.

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Anchor Dam in the spring before the water drains away.

THE DISAPPEARING WATERS OF THE OWL CREEK Charles Blonde had built his homestead in the late 1800’s with high hopes of building his herds and growing plentiful crops. He had just left the Shoshone agency at Fort Washakie where he had worked as a herder and had moved into the the remote Big Horn Basin. Blonde's brand resembled an anchor and his spread was thus called Anchor Ranch. Blonde's two-story ranch house was nestled in the cottonwoods on the South Fork of Owl Creek. He dug irrigation ditches to redirect this small creek to his fields. Despite all his backbreaking efforts, Blonde struggled with irrigation at Anchor Ranch. Local residents witnessed large holes appearing in the ditches of this region and tried to fill these holes with straw. Despite their efforts, a considerable amount of the water would drain away before it could be used. Sinks were also reported to exist in the bed of Owl Creek itself. All that remains of Blonde’s former homestead are the remnants of a cow camp and empty irrigation ditches that have grown over with grass and sagebrush. In

place of the historic ranch, is a concrete dam. Named after the former ranch, Anchor Dam has earned the dubious reputation as a boondoggle. Like the irrigation ditches, it has never been able to hold back the water from Owl Creek. Nearly every year, the Owl Creek over flows its banks, swollen with snow melt and spring rains. By late summer, there is not enough water for the farmers and ranchers downstream to use for irrigation. Over the years, many attempts were made to get water to the region and it was the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who believed they could accomplish this momentous task. A geologic report and map of the proposed dam site at Blonde’s old homestead was prepared in 1935. It was based on one week of reconnaissance field work.

Anchor Dam

Local rancher, Henry Freudenthal, strongly opposed the early efforts to build a dam in the area because of “seepage”. He even went as far as measuring the water from the upper to lower end of the Owl Creek and discovered that seventeen percent of the water was lost along the way. The government’s report did not include his observations. The state and federal geologists repeatedly gave cautious approval and suggested further studies and investigation. Once it became clear that the federal government was prepared to spend large amounts of money on the project’s construction, Freudenthal dropped his opposition and declared he would “entrust this point to the judgment of the government engineers.” Problems began almost immediately. In 1958, the year work was to commence, a 300-foot circular crack appeared in the future reservoir area. Two other sinkholes were also discovered that were caused by “solution cavities”. Dolomite, a sedimentary rock that could be dissolved by groundwater

Sinkholes #33 and #34


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

over time, was discovered under the entire floor of the future reservoir. Sinkholes kept appearing. Eddie Shaffer, a longtime resident of Hot Springs County, was part of the 300-man crew that was hired to build the dam and said that the workers attempted to fill these holes with cement. “We mined under that dam,” Schaffer said, “I couldn't go back in those holes. They were too far back and they narrowed down. I knew guys that were crawling to get into those things and then they pumped them full of cement.” “They were pumping into the holes, one time, a foot apart, the full length of that dam. They might take part of a truckload of

Workers survey solution cavities beneath the dam site, August 1958

cement for one hole and 15 truckloads for the next one.” The workers continued to fill the solution caves with cement and plugged the cavities they couldn’t successfully seal otherwise. Their efforts to stop all the leaks failed. Despite the hardships, the 208-foot Anchor Dam was completed on Oct. 26, 1960. The following spring, they began filling the reservoir. The lake was to have a capacity of over 17,000 acre-feet. However, within days, the reservoir began to drain. Water leaked through undiscovered sinkholes and permeable bedrock and emptied the lake before it reached capacity. Testing showed that the water drained deep underground through joints and fissures. The 300-foot crack from 1958 collapsed, forming a sinkhole that drained the reservoir at a rate reaching 2,210 cubic feet per second. Multiple unsuccessful attempts to plug this hole led to a dike being constructed around it to isolate the sinkhole from the remaining reservoir.

Since then, 54 sinkholes have developed in the reservoir, generally in an area 600 feet upstream from the dam. According to historian Kathy Lindholm, over seven million dollars was spent trying to build the dam and plug the sinkholes. By the mid-1970s, the Bureau of Reclamation largely stopped throwing their money down a hole. They had spent four years building the dam and twenty-seven years trying to get it to hold water. In the spring, for a few brief weeks, Anchor Dam will look like the reservoir it was meant to be. It won’t last long, though, and the water will drain down once more. By late summer, the reservoir is a small puddle and this tiny amount of water can occasionally be used for late season irrigation. Today, a small campground and picnic area sit in the shadow of Anchor Dam, a reservoir that will never serve its intended use. Despite a century of efforts, the waters of the Owl Creek continue to disappear into sinkholes and cracks deep in the earth.



Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


The "Reel" McCoy

Tim McCoy looks over his ranch, The Eagle’s Nest Courtesy of University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Tim McCoy Collection

It was 1910 in Hot Springs County and the spring roundup had begun. Tim McCoy was a newcomer to the area and had just been hired by Irish Tom, a well-liked local rancher. The young cowboy had joined an eclectic crew consisting of seven men: former outlaws, small time rustlers, hardened cowboys and a college graduate who had just returned home from back East.

C’mon boys, and listen to my tale And I’ll tell ya ‘bout my troubles On the old Chrisholm Trail, Come a ky-yi, yippi-yippi-ay, yippi-ay

The cattle were fresh off the range, half-wild and easily spooked. According to McCoy, if a man rode up quickly to the herd at night and stopped to light a cigarette, the flash of the match might frighten them and they’d be off and gone.

Come a ky-yi, yippi-yippi-ay.

an early guard, the cowboys would stay awake and listen to him sing.

In order to keep the beeves from ‘getting edgy’, the cowboys would take shifts and sing as they rode the night circle. The hope was that the cattle would become comfortable with the sound and less likely to bolt.

His voice also earned him his nickname. “I was sitting around the fire one night at suppertime,” McCoy recalled, “when somebody asked who was on second guard.”

“Cattle,” McCoy explained, “besides being spookable, are also pretty dumb. Let them eat, don’t cause them any bother and they’re fine.” Most of the cowboys sang the only songs they knew but the Texas songs of “Sam Bass” and “Chisholm Trail” quickly grew old. When a chorus of “ky-yi, yippi-yippi-ay” rang out, the cowpunchers reacted by “chapping” the off-key offender. They took off their heavy leather chaps and whaled the poor guy half to death.

“Oh, Ted Price and the Canary,” came the reply from Irish Tom. I looked up and said, “Wait a minute, I’m on guard with Ted Price!”

McCoy learned the lesson quickly and lent his tenor voice instead to the soft, lilting melodies he had heard his parents and their Irish friends singing during his childhood. Sometimes, if he was on


Tim McCoy, the Actor

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Frank James, former outlaw, looked at me and said, “Hain’t ya heerd yer name yet, young feller? You’re Irish Tom’s Canary.”

Irish Tom’s Canary, the young cowpoke from Hot Springs County, was now one of the illustrious Big Four of Hollywood’s early westerns which included Tom Mix, Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson. He starred with such legends as Joan Crawford and was the headliner in a movie with the then littleknown actor, John Wayne.

McCoy continued to sing for the cattle of other men for the next five years, rotating around the countryside and drifting from one ranch to the next. During this time, he would make trips to Cody and visit the Irma’s saloon where he would often find Buffalo Bill Cody. The old showman, then in Hollywood Movie Poster his late 60’s, would regale his audience with stories of his exploits. McCoy earned Cody was a natural performer and his his star on Hollywood Boulevard and influence was reflected in McCoy’s decision reinvented himself throughout the years. to eventually head to Hollywood and one In 1938, while still acting, he took his own day have his own Wild West Show. show, the ill-fated “Colonel Tim McCoy’s Real Wild West and Rough Riders of His ticket to Hollywood came in 1922 the World”, on the road. After the show’s when McCoy was no longer singing for demise, he then went into television where other men’s cattle. At the time, he was the he hosted a children’s western show and youngest adjutant general in Wyoming’s won an Emmy. history, ran 350 head of cattle on five hundred acres of land in the Owl Creeks Mountain Range, had three kids and, in his words, was "bored". When a producer came looking for Indians to star in an upcoming silent movie, The Covered Wagon, Tim McCoy agreed to help. By the time McCoy was in his forties, he had begun his own acting career in the popular western genre. He started out in silent movies and was one of the rare actors glad when the movies made the transition to “talkies”. This way he could use his voice for the golden screen instead of just for the cattle he used to enchant.

By the time McCoy retired and wrote his autobiography, it was his years on the range and not the glitz of Hollywood that he remembered most fondly. Under the western stars, over one hundred years ago, a young cowboy destined for Hollywood, used his golden voice to sing in the remote Wyoming sage, where only the cattle and tough old cowboys could hear.

Tim McCoy's Wild West Show


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

spend the summer excavating bones and introducing the public to the science of dinosaurs. Angela first applied as an intern at the Dinosaur Center when she was a geology and math major. Her passion for the bones kept her coming back year after year. After graduation, she landed a full-time position as Excavation Manager in the summer and Chief Preparer in the lab during the winter. “The fossils made sense to me,” she said. “What we do is science based and math is vital to the job.” She also enjoys the interaction with the public, “I love it when someone sees the bones for the first time. Its all about the excitement of finding something new you can’t replicate anywhere else.”

Wyoming Dinosaur Center

DIG INTO THE PREHISTORIC PAST The hum of excited chatter filled the air

at each new discovery and the workers kept up a steady pace. The swish of small brooms produced a fine dirt that was captured into a dust pan and tossed into a bucket for removal from the pit. “Look at this bone,” an excited paleontologist exclaimed, gesturing for his neighbor to look closer. Another energetic scientist used a dental pick to dislodge a small rock from the black dinosaur bone the team was exposing in the work pit. These particular scientists were all fourth graders from the local elementary school, working for the day at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

kids can join a one-day trip back into the Jurassic Period. They excavate for bones, search for fossils, work in the lab, explore the museum and create their own works of art to take home such as fossil casts. “You can’t walk 300 yards without finding dinosaur bones,” Angela said, indicating the fields that border the museum in East Thermopolis. “I’m from Tennessee and we don’t have dinosaurs like this.” Angela herself is a product of the educational programs offered at the Dinosaur Center. Twenty interns, usually college students, are selected each year to

Aside from the Kid's Dig and internships, daily half-day and full-day digs are available for families and friends. “We have entire families that come back every year to work in our sites,” Angela said. “And you need to book ahead because although we have increased the number of people who can dig each day, the spots go fast.” Another new program Angela is excited about is the Generational Program that teams up Grandparents and grandkids at the dig site. There is also a week-long camp for high schoolers that will give older kids an opportunity to get hands-on experience before they head to college. “There is also a week-long camp, the Dinosaur Academy, for highschoolers to receive hands-on experience in the dinosaur pits.” You can book your own dinosaur adventure at today!

“You can’t do this in other places,” Angela Reddick, the Educational Director said, referring to the hands-on dinosaur dig, “It’s a once in a lifetime experience!” The Kid's Dig program is just one of several opportunities for Dino enthusiasts of all ages to get an actual experience to work alongside paleologists at a real dinosaur dig site. During the summer, 8 to 12-year-old

Nate King works in the dig site.


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Grass Creek, Wyoming: An Oasis in the Desert Armed with rifles, and wearing masks,

three men, self-proclaimed vigilantes, “compelled” a large number of claim jumpers to evacuate the camps they had established illegally. It was 1917 and a new era of outlaws had taken over the Wild West. Oil had been discovered and men flocked to the remote outposts of Wyoming in search of the black gold. Businessmen, such as Martin McGrath, a founding father of Thermopolis, and former outlaws like Elzy Lay of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang, joined in the hunt for the liquid treasure. Aspiring oil men partnered up with others to jump claims and grab up any potential land. Imprecise surveys helped to create chaos as claims overlapped. Competing parties spied on each other, climbing ridges and watching through binoculars. Once a claim had been staked, rivals would sneak out under the cover of darkness and move the stakes. They would then erect buildings to legitimize their claim jumping.

By 1908, a successful oil well had been drilled in Grass Creek and more were soon to follow. Families began moving into the oil camp, building close knit communities with schools and churches mingling with the saloons and pool halls. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 put an end to claim jumping and civility moved in. Wives formed Community Circles and children entertained themselves in the rocky hills and among the oil fields. Elizabeth McCrady Nuhn’s father moved to Grass Creek in 1919, arriving at the new frontier in an overland stage. “He said that the terrain was

the driest that he had ever seen, and it was covered with sagebrush,” Elizabeth said. “It looked terribly bleak, and he promised himself that he would only stay one year and then he would return to the East.” However, George McCrady discovered the beauty in the wild terrain. He remained in Grass Creek and retired as Superintendent of the Ohio Oil company in 1948. To Elizabeth, the bleak landscape was her oasis in the desert, “I loved the sunsets, the mountains, but most of all I loved the people who lived there. They were warm, kind, honest, hard-working, funloving people.” “One nice thing about Grass Creek,” Elizabeth added, “we were close to a lot of beautiful picnic areas. On Sundays we would put our goodies together and four or five families would go on a picnic.”


Picnics continued to be a popular summer time event and the Ohio Oil Company helped build a special picnic area for their employees. The camp bordered the Shoshone National Forest and was a place full of games and laughter. By the early 1960’s, the Grass Creek Community was dissolved as a company town and the residents moved into the neighboring towns of Thermopolis, Meeteetse and Cody. Their picnic area was handed over to the 4H council and a camp was established for the youth of Thermopolis and Worland. Today, this camp is operated as the H Diamond W Youth Camp and is available for reservations through the University of Wyoming Extension Office. You can come for the day or stay the night; either in your own camper or rent one of the cabins. “The camp is a special place,” says Becky Davis whose daughter was married at the camp for her remote destination wedding. “We want to preserve it for future generations.”

Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


The headwaters of Grass Creek runs through the youth camp and a pond is stocked by Game and Fish. Moose, elk, deer and other wildlife make regular appearances. The non-profit board of volunteers have been renovating the camp in recent years and have added a commercial kitchen to the 4,000 square foot main lodge and additional new cabins.

Choose from our vast varieties of hot or cold beverages and enjoy a tasty treat while you’re here. We have a fun selection of sugar free, gluten free and traditional ready made foods to accompany your choice of beverage.

“We have big dreams,” Sara Bain said. “We want this camp to be a destination for those that want to escape from the world, if only for a moment.” A few miles away from the Youth Camp is another retreat in the Grass Creek oasis. While the town of Grass Creek had been dissolved, a few homesteaders and ranchers remained in the area, making their living among the sage. One such homestead of Nate Brown is now a working ranch that is introducing agritourism and horse rides to Hot Springs County. “Grass Creek, Wyoming, an oasis in the valley of the mountain, is still the place I call home,” Elizabeth McCrady Nuhn reminisced, “I often imagine myself sitting on the back steps of our house where the people lived that I loved most. I can see the tall steel girders of the rigs silhouetting the skies as the sun slips behind the peaks of the Owl Creek Mountains.”

Audra’s Copper Coo Oh, and did we mention our boba teas, fresh pressed lemonade and iced teas?

“Since I left Grass Creek, I have traveled to many countries around the world and have seen many beautiful historic sights, but there are times that I feel lonesome and wish I could return to a place filled with love, peace and security – home – my home – Grass Creek, Wyoming.”

Open 9am-8pm Monday thru Saturday

Located at 225 Clark St. Thermopolis, WY


Book your next adventure in Grass Creek! H Diamond W Youth Camp & Aspen Creek Lodge To book the camp, call the Worland U.W. Extension Office at 307-347-3431 and for more information, go to SonRise Grass Creek Guest Ranch Book online at or call 307-867-2090

Thinking about buying a Ranch or Farm in Wyoming or surrounding states? BUY/SELL WITH THE BEST 500 Broadway P.O. BOX 285 Thermopolis, WY 307-234-2211

Jackson Skelton tests his fishing skills in the H Diamond W Youth Camp Pond


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Photo courtesy of Clark Smyth of Angling Destinations

GET HOOKED! BIG HORN RIVER If you are looking for a memorable fishing trip, look no further



than Thermopolis and the Big Horn River. Beginning at the Wedding of the Waters, this intimate tailwater meanders through the farm fields and ranches of Hot Springs County.


The trout of the Big Horn River grow large and fight hard, making for a fun and challenging fly-fishing experience. Known as one of the finest Wyoming rivers to drift boat fish, fishermen should be prepared to catch trophy fish ranging from Browns, Yellowstone Cutthroats, Rainbow and Whitefish.

a free room!

Valid now until the end of February 2022!

• Located close to the Hot Springs • Guided fishing, hunting and fishing supplies

There are many days throughout the year that you could be one of the only boats on the river fishing these giant trout that average 16 to 18 inches. Enthusiastic fisherman have reported that you can barely get one hand from the top of the fish to the bottom. The Rainbows especially can exceed 20 inches!

• All skill levels welcome: Beginners to seasoned pro

Book your next Wyoming Adventure!

There are several fishing guides to choose from in Thermopolis who can take you to their own special fishing holes. They will also advise you which flies would work best on any particular days. According to our guides, you can expect opportunities to catch trout on nymphs, streamers and dries.

Thermopoli sflysh o p.c o m 307-864-3499 401 Park St • Thermopolis, WY


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Mike Vaughan Guide River

Over 35 years experience guiding on Western rivers Nothing beats fishing with an experienced guide who knows where we are and how to catch us!

Courtesy of Keith O'Brien, fishing guide

Enjoy that thrill now...




Book a Guide BIG HORN GUIDE SERVICE 307-921-0950 •

South of the Big Horn River and Wedding of the Water is the

BOYSEN MARINA 307-876-2772 •

Wind River. A warm tailwater created by the Boysen Dam keep the fish biting year-round. Here, you can wade fish and find massive giants eager to feed on your flies. Fish tend to concentrate in the slower water and are close to the surface.

KEITH’S FLOAT TRIPS 530-521-9901 • MIKE VAUGHAN RIVER GUIDE 541-733-5119 •

Guided fishing is also available exclusively through Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing. Regardless of how you go, remember to get your tribal fishing license since the river flows through the Wind River Indian Reservation.

THERMOPOLIS FLY SHOP 307-864-3499 • RENT ADVENTURES 307-921-2334 •

Expect to find the same trophy trout in the Wind River as the Big Horn River to the north. These hard fighting fish are not for the faint of heart and will make you work for your prize!


Shuttle Services FISHERMAN’S FRIEND 904-477-1255 •

It is time for you to escape to the water and cast a line!

HERE TO THERE 307-921-1233 • THERMOPOLIS FLY SHOP 307-864-3499 •

Book your fishing adventure today!


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

Boysen Reservoir

The Boysen Dam today. Timothy Rockhold, photographer

BOYSEN STATE PARK AND ITS DAM BEGINNINGS In 1952, a new earthen dam was finished near the Wind River Canyon to hold back the Wind River. As water flooded the homesteads, prairie and sage, a large lake was created that eventually boasted 77 miles of shoreline and approximately 20,000 surface acres of water. Five years after the dam was finished, a new park was opened to the public. Boysen State Park quickly became a favorite attraction to fisherman, campers and boaters. Tourists and locals came far and wide to fish in the new lake which remains a popular attraction.

Original Boysen Dam, circa 1920’s

The original dam was the dream – and curse - of Asmus Boysen in the early 1900’s. This Chicago politician, seeking to expand his wealth, had joined the gold rush into Wyoming. After surveying the 32

area, he decided that a dam was needed to provide electricity in the proposed Copper Mountain mining district. Those against the dam protested that it would prevent a railroad from being built through the Wind River Canyon and would threaten the safety of the Town of Thermopolis. Opponents were worried that the fledgling town would be swept away in floods should the dam fail. Despite these objections, Boysen was able to build his dam with his connections back in Washington D.C. Over one thousand men worked for him and he formed the town of Boysen at the mouth of the canyon. By 1911, his dam was completed and transmitting power. However, the dam was beset with continuing litigation from the railroad Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

higher off the ground to prevent future flooding. They named the new dam and state park after Asmus Boysen who had dreamed of building his fortune with the original dam. Instead, the gold rush he had anticipated in the Copper Mountain area never happened, the electricity was bought elsewhere and Boysen’s wealth was lost in the process. Asmus Boysen, builder of the original Boysen Dam

and structural issues. Severe floods in the 1920’s washed water over the railroad tracks and Chicago Burlington & Quincy had to shut down operations. Bankrupt, Boysen abandoned his dam after losing his last few customers. Eventually, it was torn down and the town of Boysen deserted. Remnants of the old dam can still be seen at the Lower Wind River Campground. In December 1952, the government built a successful dam upstream after forcing the railroad to build their tracks

His name lives on at the Boysen State Park. Campgrounds, swimming holes and picnic areas are enjoyed by the public who flock to the beaches that once were dry land. Reservations must be made ahead of time so book your own camping experience by visiting the Wyoming State Park website at You can also book your stay in Thermopolis and enjoy a tour of the scenic Wind River Canyon on your way to the Boysen Reservoir.

When you throw in your fishing line at the Boysen Reservoir, you will discover a diverse fishery. MAJOR SPORTS SPECIES: walleye, sauger, perch, crappie, ling, rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. GAME FISH: largemouth bass, bluegill, stonecat, black bullhead, mountain whitefish, lake trout, brook trout and splake. NON-GAME SPECIES: carp, fathead minnow, plains killifish, golden and sand shriners; flathead, lake and creek chubs; white, longnose and northern redhorse suckers; and the river capsucker

Your water adventure awaits!

4 Bedrooms (Sleeps 8) 3 Bathrooms Deck & Patio, Full Kitchen, Gaming Rm, Washer & Dryer, AC


Welcome to our unique properties nestled in the secluded Wind River Canyon Book a float or fishing trip with Wind River Canyon Whitewater, grab a tribal fishing permit for your opportunity to fish the banks below or simply enjoy all our homes have to offer.

PREMIER HOST ON VRBO Book your stay today at one of our two properties! 1275 Highway 20 S. • Thermopolis, WY 82443 3 Bedrooms • 2.5 Bathrooms Cabin with 2 Twin Beds Pool Table

Email your inquiries to


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

IT’S MAGICAL Something to Crow About!

Sarah Ferrell was ready to move back west. She had been working in Missouri at a health food store but missed her family and the drier weather. Her sister and brother-in-law were teachers in Shoshoni and so Wyoming beckoned. The mineral hot springs became the ultimate draw in deciding where she ended up.

Kristin Stone, server at The Crow Bar

“Thermopolis is magical,” Sarah explained, “The Native Americans considered the healing waters magical and there is a special spirituality that is found here.”

and croissants fill up the menu. “We are always adding more,” Sarah said. “We now have a small pizza oven and make our own flatbreads.”

She bought Nature’s Corner from Mary Jane Nettles in 2003 and has been growing the business ever since. An avid gardener, she had dreams of a health food grocery store.

“This is a cool place,” she concluded. “We have a lot of local support and travelers are always coming in.”

Sarah began by renovating a building downtown Thermopolis. Once home to the infamous Smoke House Pool Hall, she uncovered the historic remnants that had been hidden for years beneath suspended ceilings and dark paneling. Today, customers browse her large selection of goods beneath the original ceiling. The aromatic spices and fresh food from The Crow Bar tantalize the senses.

Sarah Ferrell has found a lot of joy in her work over the years. You can visit her at Nature’s Corner at 530 Broadway in downtown Thermopolis. Browse her large selection of natural products and gifts after grabbing a bite to eat at The Crow Bar.

nature’sand corner

Sarah had always been interested in healthy eating and nonprocessed foods and wanted to share this passion with others in her new hometown. “In a small town, our options are few so we began by focusing on special orders and offering case and bulk discounts. We eventually expanded into supplement and personal care items.”

THE CROW BAR featuring

Smoothies, salads, wraps and much more!

In 2009, a Smoothie Bar was added to the back of the building. “We opened up the bar when there were tons of crows in town,” she said. “I started looking up crows and Native American mythology. I learned that crows stand for justice.” The name ‘Crow Bar’ was thus adopted although, today, it is no longer just a smoothie bar. Salads, wraps, homemade soup

Whether you’re looking for health and beauty supplies or a nice lunch or smoothie, we’ve got what you want!

Enjoy a made-to-order lunch and the best smoothies in town! • Organic & Gluten-free Groceries • Healthy Snacks & Drinks • Vitamins & Homeopathy Products • Health & Beauty Supplies • Unique Gifts • Special Orders Welcome

530 Broadway St • Thermopolis, WY 307.864.3218


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

DINING GUIDE Audra’s Copper Coo


Bangkok Thai


Black Bear Café


Boysen Marina


Champs Chicken


The Crow Bar


Dairyland & Hot City Coffee


Gottsche 148 Bistro


Lazy Fox Artisan Goods


Las Cabos




One-Eyed Buffalo Brewing Co.


OEB Saloon


Pizza Hut


P6 Station


Safari Club


Taco John’s


VFW Club


7 Lazy S Café & Bar


THE NEWEST CAFÉ IN TOWN features home cooked meals and breakfast for lunch!

friendship e k li is d o o f Great rm Rich and wa New Owners Kim & Charlie Smith Located at the Old Thermopolis Cafe

307.864.2500 109 S 6th St • Thermopolis, WY


A hometown café with new owners, Jen & Pat Arends, who are active in the local community! All your family favorites! From build-your-own omelets to hamburgers with fresh cut fries.

Located Downtown Thermopolis

111 N. 5th Street

Five Star Ratings on Trip Advisor!


6:30am to 2pm Tuesday – Sunday (Closed Mondays)


Friendly and prompt hospitality! Caring atmosphere where locals and travelers mix.

In a hurry?

Call ahead for take-out:


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs

L O DG I N G Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel


Elk Antler Inn


El Rancho Motel


Fountain of Youth Inn


Hot Springs Hotel & Spa

Elk Antler Inn Experience Wyoming! 1.

Rustic comfortable rooms with log furniture and handcrafted quilts



Refrigerators and microwaves in every room

Paintbrush Inn


Quality Inn


Suites and family units available

Rainbow Motel


3. 4. 5.

Roundtop Mountain Motel 307-369-0900 Two Rivers Inn

Weekly and group rates Picnic Area with a BBQ grill




Fountain of Youth RV Park



Wyoming Gardens RV Park & Cabins 307-864-2778

501 S. 6th Thermopolis, WY

CALL 307-864-2325

W E LC OM E T O T H E Q UA L I T Y I N N your vacation home away from home in beautiful Thermopolis,Wyoming At the Quality Inn we are committed to providing every guest with outstanding hospitality and memories of a lifetime. We look forward to providing you with the utmost comfort so that you will want to come back to stay with us every time you are in Thermopolis. Thank you for choosing the Quality Inn in beautiful Thermopolis, Wyoming. ~ The Management and Staff

166 US Highway 20 S. 1-307-864-5515


Visit Wyoming’s Favorite Hot Springs


The plates lined the ceiling around the large kitchen, each one featuring a unique fantastical creature. The designs had been traced from the original drawings and painted by Zola Skidmore VanNorman.

“That one is the Wolf Man,” Zola explained, gesturing towards one of the plates without looking. She was guarded, protective of her findings, when asked where each one was located on the rock cliffs in the Big Horn Basin. The former Hot Springs County rodeo princess and basketball star had spent years exploring the Wyoming countryside and the drawings that dwelled in the Big Horn Basin region. These strange creatures with lines zig zagging around them are known as Dinwoody Petroglyphs and are unique to the Wind River Mountain Range. The long necks, squat bodies, shields and animal shapes have been studied for over seventy-five years by archeologists from all over the world. Zola was an expert on the rock art and worked alongside Wyoming State Archaeologist, Dr. George Frison, on several dig sites throughout Hot Springs County. When vandals shot and used picks on the sacred art, she made it her mission to preserve these ancient drawings. She led lectures and urged everyone to contact their legislature to protect the sites. In the early days of archaeology, the petroglyphs were chalked to see them more clearly and Zola took hundreds of photographs over the years. She also traced each individual drawing onto paper. Once back home, she would use an overhead projector to hand draw each creature onto a plate or canvas using colors from her imagination. When Bud Ross, a good friend and fellow enthusiasts, asked to see her most valuable finds in the early 2000’s, Zola relented, although reluctantly. She came back with a shoe box and removed three soapstone pipes. The pipes had been broken and Zola had carefully dug up all the pieces to glue them back together. They were aqua green, two to three inches in diameter with white carvings etched into them. A perfectly round hole was drilled from one end to another in each pipe stem. The pipes were works of art in themselves. One especially stood out with its intricate carvings of flying geese. By this time, Zola had two sets of pipes – the originals and an expertly rendered replica made of plastic. Zola and Dr. George Frison posing with petroglyph and fellow explorer

Zola VanNorman

Over the years, Zola had become legally blind but the rock art was etched into her mind’s eye. Visitors would ask about the artwork she had painstakingly recreated and she would point in the direction of the drawing and tell its story. With her passing in 2010, the world lost her knowledge and imagination but not her life’s work. The study Zola began over seventy years ago endures as modern archaeologists continue to refine her tracing methods with the aid of technology and make discoveries of their own. Samples of her artwork are on display at the Hot Springs County Museum on 700 Broadway in Thermopolis. Visit the petroglyphs that inspired Zola at the Legend Rock Petroglyph Historic Site in Hamilton Dome, 29 miles northwest of Thermopolis.

Explore Legend Rock Petroglyphs Historic Site!


Your Home Away From Home! • Local owners on premises • Cozy, clean rooms with a family touch • Well-Lit Parking for Cars, Semis & RV’s • Dog-friendly • Kitchenettes available • Microwaves and refrigerators • Within walking distance of local stores and attractions 307-864-3155 • 605 S. 6th St. • Thermopolis

The Big Horn Basin has everything we need to make great bourbon, and it is important to us to source our ingredients locally. The consistency and uniqueness of these whiskey elements make for a better bourbon that stands apart. It’s the Whiskey of the West.



1 0 0 S . N E L S O N ST. • K I R BY, WY • 3 07. 8 6 4 . 2 1 1 6 WYO M I N G W H I S K E Y.CO M 40

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.