Risky Business: The Ghost Town of Kirwin – Main Street, Wyoming


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become a sustaining member or an annual member. It’s easy and secure. Thank you.>>IN A DEEP CLEAVAGE CUT BY THE WOOD RIVER IN NORTHWEST WYOMING, WEATHERED BUILDINGS MARK AN ABANDONED MINING TOWN, KIRWIN. THESE GHOSTLY STRUCTURES ARE AT THE CENTER OF INTERCONNECTING STORIES… STORIES OF MINERS IN SEARCH OF ELUSIVE TREASURE… NATURAL DISASTERS SWEEPING AWAY LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS… INTREPID ADVENTURERS NAVIGATING ICE-CLOGGED SEAS… AND DARING AVIATORS WINGING OVER CONTINENTS, OCEANS, AND ISLANDS… STORIES TRACING BACK TO THIS REMOTE LOCATION, THIS SINGULAR PLACE, STORIES OF RISKY BUSINESS AND THE GHOST TOWN OF KIRWIN.>>♪ YOU TAKE YOUR TROUBLES WITH YOU BUT MAYBE I CAN FEEL BRAND-NEW AGAIN OH, ACROSS THE LINE ♪>>IT’S A SLOW JOURNEY UP A PLEASANT WINDING ROAD NEAR THE TOWN OF MEETEETSE IN NORTHWEST WYOMING. THE WAY IS PAVED AT FIRST, A GENTLE, ROLLING, TWO-LANE COUNTRY ROUTE. AFTER A FEW MILES, THE PAVEMENT GIVES WAY TO GRAVEL, THEN TRANSFORMS INTO A SINGLE DIRT TRACK. GAINING SOME 4,000 FEET IN ELEVATION, IT FUNNELS PAST ABSAROKA VISTAS AND CRAMPED PASSAGEWAYS, THICK FORESTS, AND THIN TRACES OF HUMAN HABITATION. THEN THE ROAD TERMINATES, AND KIRWIN BECKONS. GOLD AND SILVER WERE FIRST DISCOVERED IN THE WOOD RIVER VALLEY IN 1885.>>HARRY ADAMS AND WILL KIRWIN CAME UP HERE AND WERE ON A–ACTUALLY DEER HUNTING AND RECOGNIZED THIS AS BEING A MINERALIZATION AREA, AND THEY DID SOME SEARCHING AROUND AND FOUND SOME GOOD GOLD SAMPLES ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF SPAR MOUNTAIN. ON THEIR WAY BACK FROM HERE, THEY STOPPED AT OLD ARLAND AND TOLD THE STORY AND NO DOUBT EMBELLISHED IT A LITTLE BIT. ARLAND WAS KIND OF A WILD TOWN. PEOPLE JUST MOVED AWAY BECAUSE OF THE KILLINGS AND THE WILDNESS OF IT.>>ARLAND WAS A PRETTY ROUGH TOWN. I MEAN, THE BUSINESSES THERE WERE THE KIND THAT YOU WOULDN’T TALK ABOUT IN A MIXED CROWD. ARLAND GOT ITS START IN THE EARLIER 1880s, BUT MEETEETSE STARTED GROWING IN 1886, SO THEY COEXISTED FOR A WHILE, BUT BEING THAT TRAFFIC CAME THROUGH MEETEETSE, ALL THE WAGON TRAFFIC CAME THROUGH MEETEETSE, MEETEETSE GREW QUICKLY, AND MEETEETSE TOOK OVER THE TRADE FROM ARLAND.>>ANYWAY, THAT CAUSED A LOT OF THE EXCITEMENT FOR KIRWIN TO START. THERE WAS A LOT OF ACTIVITY THAT PEOPLE WERE INTERESTED FROM ALL OVER. THEY TALKED ABOUT THE BIG POSSIBILITIES OF IT. THEY HAD GOLD IN A LOT OF AREAS. ANYWAY, IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE VERY POSSIBLY ONE OF THE BIGGER STRIKES EVEN COMPARED TO SOME OF THE BIG ONES.>>KIRWIN IS LOCATED IN A VOLCANIC FIELD. THESE MOUNTAINS ARE VOLCANIC LAYER DEPOSITS WHERE THE MOLTEN LAVA CAME TO THE SURFACE, FLOWED OUT, AND FORMED LAYERS, AND THEN LATER, THERE WAS OTHER VOLCANIC ACTIVITY, WHICH PUSHED UP THROUGH THE LAYERED ROCKS, THE INTRUSIVE ROCKS, AND THAT’S WHEN THE MINERALIZATION OCCURRED, AND THAT’S WHEN THE GOLD AND SILVER AND OTHER MINERALS WERE DEPOSITED.>>IN 1886, ADAMS AND KIRWIN BEGAN STAKING AND FILING CLAIMS AROUND THE AREA THAT WOULD BECOME KIRWIN. SEPTEMBER 1891 SAW 16 OTHER HOPEFULS JOIN THEM IN OFFICIALLY FORMING THE WOOD RIVER MINING DISTRICT. BY 1894, EASTERN SPECULATORS CAUGHT WIND OF THE FIND, AND A NEW YORK CAPITALIST ORGANIZED THE WYOMING MINING COMPANY. CHARLES TEWKSBURY, FORMERLY SUPERINTENDANT OF THE FAILED FORTUNATUS MINING COMPANY NEAR DAYTON, WYOMING, BECAME RESIDENT MANAGER AND OWNER OF A GENERAL STORE WITH HIS WIFE SARAH. 1899 MARKED THE CREATION OF THE GALENA RIDGE MINING CORPORATION BY HENRY SCHNITZEL AND OTHER LEAD SOUTH DAKOTA INVESTORS. THEY ALSO PURCHASED LAND ALONG THE WOOD RIVER AND ESTABLISHED THE ANTLER LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY AS A BASE FOR THEIR MINING OPERATIONS. THIS DIVERSIFICATION WOULD PROVE TO BE AN ASTUTE BUSINESS DECISION IN THE COMING YEARS.>>THIS IS A MINE MANAGER’S HOUSE. THE STORY GOES IT WAS BUILT BY HENRY SCHNITZEL FOR HIS WIFE. NOW KIRWIN IS AT 9,200 FEET IN ELEVATION, AND THEY HAD BEAUTIFUL SUMMERS BUT LONG, COLD, SNOWY WINTERS, AND HIS WIFE EVIDENTLY DIDN’T WANT TO LIVE UP HERE. HE TOLD HER THAT HE WOULD BUILD HER THE NICEST HOUSE IN KIRWIN IF SHE WOULD COME UP HERE. SCHNITZEL BUILT THIS HOUSE. IT HAS DORMERS, IT HAD WALLPAPER, IT HAD WAINSCOTING, DECORATED VERY NICE. THE STORY IS SHE CAME UP FOR A WHILE, BUT SHE STILL DIDN’T STAY.>>AS MORE MINERS AND MINING COMPANIES ARRIVED ON THE SCENE, A MAZE OF TUNNELS AND SHAFTS PENETRATED THE SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS, EVIDENCE OF THE GROWING OPTIMISM AND AVARICE PERMEATING KIRWIN.>>IN THE EARLY 1900s, SOMEWHERE AROUND 1902 TO 1907, WAS WHEN MOST OF THE KIRWIN TUNNELS AND SHAFTS WERE DRIVEN. WE HAVE THE BRYAN UP ON THE HILL UP ON SPAR MOUNTAIN, WE HAVE THE MOLLY LOGAN WAS DRIVEN, THE GALENA RIDGE TUNNEL DRIVEN DOWN AT THE CANYON CREEK, THE LONGHORN TUNNEL THAT WAS DRIVEN UNDER MINERAL MOUNTAIN, AND THEN WE HAVE THE TUMLUM HERE. THE MAIN IDEA WAS TO DRILL–DRIVE THIS SHAFT VERTICALLY TO INTERSECT THE VEIN AND THEN DRIVE SOUTHWARD UNDER WOOD RIVER TO FOLLOW THAT VEIN WITH POCKETS WITHIN THE VEIN OF RICH ORE. SO THIS IS ONE OF THE RICHEST DISCOVERIES IN THE KIRWIN AREA. THEY NEEDED TO GET–KEEP PUMPING THE WATER OUT OF THE SHAFT THEY WERE DRIVING BECAUSE THE WATER WAS COMING IN FROM WOOD RIVER RAPIDLY. SO THEY DECIDED TO BRING A BOILER UP TO GENERATE STEAM. THEY THEN HOOKED UP TO STEAM-DRIVEN PUMPS TO PUMP THE WATER OUT. BRONCO NELL, ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS AREA, WAS THE ONE THAT HAULED THE BOILER UP IN PIECES IN THE WAGON, AND SHE WAS ONE OF THE FREIGHTERS IN THE KIRWIN AREA, AND I GUESS SHE WAS QUITE A CHARACTER.>>BRONCO NELL WAS THE ONLY LADY THAT EVER SERVED TWO TERMS IN THE PRISON IN WYOMING. HER FIRST STAY THERE WAS FOR STEALING HORSES, AND THEN LATER ON, SHE WAS ARRESTED FOR MOON-SHINING IN MEETEETSE, BUT SHE WAS ALSO A MULESKINNER. SHE HAD A FREIGHT BUSINESS THAT SHE HAULED FREIGHT FROM HERE TO LANDER, AND SHE ALSO HAULED TO KIRWIN, AND SHE WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST BUSIEST PERSONS IN SUPPLYING THAT TOWN. SHE HAD HAULED THE BOILER AND THE BIG STEAM WHEEL TO KIRWIN, WHICH WAS A MAGNIFICENT THING TO DO BECAUSE IT WAS A VERY LARGE LOAD. IT TOOK MANY, MANY MULES AND HORSES TO PULL THAT UP, AND MOST OF THE TIME, YOU WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN SHE WAS A WOMAN. SHE DRESSED–IT WAS ALMOST LIKE A CALAMITY JANE, AND MOST OF THE TIME, SHE DRESSED LIKE A MAN, BUT SHE WAS–SHE WAS QUITE A CHARACTER. DIDN’T DIE UNTIL THE FIFTIES, AND SHE DIED RIGHT HERE IN MEETEETSE.>>BY 1904, THERE WERE MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE AND 38 BUILDINGS IN KIRWIN, INCLUDING A HOTEL, A BOARDING HOUSE, TWO GENERAL STORES, POST OFFICE, AND AN ASSAY OFFICE.>>THIS IS THE ASSAY OFFICE. MINERS WOULD REGULARLY BRING ORE SAMPLES INTO THE ASSAYER HERE. HE WOULD CRUSH THE ORE, PUT IT IN THE CRUCIBLE, AND THEN PUT IT IN A FURNACE, MELT IT DOWN UNTIL HE GOT GOLD OR PURE SILVER, AND THAT WAY, HE COULD CALCULATE HOW MUCH A TON OF ORE WOULD BE WORTH, AND THEY COULD DETERMINE THEN WHETHER THAT ORE WAS GOING TO BE VALUABLE ENOUGH TO BE WORTH MINING.>>YET WITH ALL THIS DEVELOPMENT, TWO ESTABLISHMENTS COMMONLY ASSOCIATED WITH BOOMING MINING TOWNS WERE CONSPICUOUSLY MISSING. THERE WERE NO SALOONS OR BROTHELS AT KIRWIN.>>THEY DIDN’T ALLOW UNMARRIED WOMEN EXCEPT A SCHOOLTEACHER, NO GAMBLING, AND NO ALCOHOL. SO YOU HAD A LOT OF MINERS THAT HAD TO LOOK FOR THEIR FUN IN MEETEETSE. SO AT THAT PERIOD OF TIME, WE HAD 7 SALOONS AND BROTHELS, AND IT WAS A BOOMING BUSINESS.>>IN THOSE BARS AND BROTHELS, THE MINERS OF KIRWIN ENCOUNTERED AN ASSORTMENT OF INTRIGUING INDIVIDUALS. IT SEEMED LIKE EVERYONE HAD A NICKNAME–BRONCO NELL, GRASSHOPPER BILL, BLIND BILL HOULIHAN–BUT THE MOST FAMOUS OF THEM ALL WAS A YOUNG FELLOW NAMED ROBERT LeROY PARKER, BETTER KNOWN TODAY AS BUTCH CASSIDY.>>BUTCH WAS A MORMON BOY. HE WAS BORN ON APRIL 13, FRIDAY 13, 1866. THE FATHER, MAXIMILIAN, WENT TO HIS OLDEST SON ROY AND SAYS, “I NEED YOUR HELP TO SUPPORT ALL YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS,” SO HE GOES TO WORK ON A NEIGHBORING RANCH, BUT ON THAT RANCH WAS A PART-TIME OUTLAW NAMED MIKE CASSIDY. BACK IN THOSE DAYS WHEN YOU WERE SOMEBODY’S JUNIOR, THEY CALLED YOU BUTCH. HE IDOLIZED THIS MAN, FOLLOWED HIM AROUND. WELL, THE OTHER HANDS KIDDINGLY SAID, “OH, LOOK. THERE GOES LITTLE BUTCH CASSIDY.” NOW IT DIDN’T STICK AT THE TIME, BUT A FEW YEARS LATER WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED FOR STEALING A SADDLE, GOING UP AGAINST THAT JUDGE, HE KNEW THAT IT WOULD GO BACK AND HAUNT HIS FAMILY, SO WHEN THE JUDGE SAYS, “WHAT’S YOUR NAME, BOY?” HE SAYS, “I’M BUTCH CASSIDY.”>>ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL AND INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF THE AREA AT THE TIME WAS OTTO FRANK, WHO ESTABLISHED THE FAMOUS PITCHFORK RANCH JUST OUTSIDE MEETEETSE IN 1878. HE ALSO SERVED AS JUSTICE OF THE PEACE FOR THE REGION AND PURPORTEDLY HELPED FUND THE BRUTAL JOHNSON COUNTY RANGE WARS OF 1892.>>IN 1886, OTTO FRANK, HE DECIDED HE NEEDED A BRIDGE ACROSS THE GREYBULL RIVER. HE THOUGHT IT WOULD FUNNEL ALL THE TRAFFIC THROUGH HERE AND MAKE HIS FREIGHT CHEAPER AND SAVE HIM MONEY. SO HE STARTED PASSING A PETITION AROUND THE COUNTY. SO HE GOES INTO THE HENRY RIVER SALOON, AND SITTING AT A TABLE THERE IN THE CARD ROOM WAS ROBERT LeROY PARKER, WHICH EVERYBODY TODAY KNOWS AS BUTCH CASSIDY, AND ALONG WITH HIM WAS 3 OUTLAWS. AND HE SIGNED THAT PETITION, BUT HE DID IT UNDER PROTEST. HE SAID THAT–THE 3 OF THEM SAID TO OTTO FRANK, “WELL, WE’RE NOT REGISTERED VOTERS. WE DON’T LIVE AROUND HERE.” OTTO FRANK SAID, “I DON’T CARE. SIGN IT.” THERE WERE ONLY 17 REGISTERED VOTERS, AND OTTO FRANK GOT 88 SIGNATURES ON THAT PETITION, SO IT PASSED, THE BRIDGE WAS BUILT, AND BUTCH CASSIDY ALWAYS FELT THAT THAT WAS THE ONE CIVIC THING HE DID, AND HE CAME BY SEVERAL TIMES TO VISIT HIS BRIDGE, AS HE CALLED IT, AND HE ENJOYED THAT.>>AS THE KIRWIN INVESTORS EAGERLY AWAITED THEIR RETURNS IN THE COMFORT OF THEIR EASTERN ENCLAVES, LIFE FOR THE MINERS WHO WORKED THE LODES WAS DECIDEDLY DIFFERENT. THEY SWUNG HEAVY HAMMERS, SINGLE AND DOUBLE JACKING, DRILLING STEELS INTO THE DENSE ROCK, CREATING HOLES FOR POWDER CHARGES. AFTER THE EXPLOSION, THE MINERS SHOVELED OR MUCKED THE HEAVY ROCK INTO ORE CARS OR HEAD FRAME BUCKETS. THE MINES WERE COLD, DAMP, AND DUSTY. BREATHING THE FOUL, GRITTY AIR OFTEN LED TO RESPIRATORY HEALTH PROBLEMS, EVEN EARLY DEATH FROM MINERS’ CONSUMPTION, ALSO KNOWN AS THE CON OR ROCK IN THE BOX. OTHER DANGERS LURKED IN THE TUNNELS, AS WELL. PREMATURE EXPLOSIONS, CAVE-INS, AND NOXIOUS GASES ALL TOOK THEIR TOLL. IN 1905, A KIRWIN MINER BY THE NAME OF CHUB WAS KILLED IN THE BRYAN MINE ONE SUCH EXPLOSION. IN ANOTHER INCIDENT, ONE R.L. McGEER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN DYNAMITE CAPS SUDDENLY EXPLODED, RIDDLING HIS BODY WITH CHUNKS OF COPPER SHRAPNEL. IT WAS NO PICNIC FOR THE MINERS’ FAMILIES EITHER. ALTHOUGH SUMMERS IN KIRWIN COULD BE PLEASANT, THE LONG WINTERS AT OVER 9,000 FEET WERE BRUTAL. DEEP SNOW, FREEZING TEMPERATURES, AND LONG MONTHS OF ISOLATION TOOK THEIR TOLL ON WIVES, SONS, AND DAUGHTERS, YET LIFE WENT ON. ENTERTAINMENT CAME IN THE FORM OF DANCES AND HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, WHICH THE WHOLE CAMP ATTENDED. AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, KIRWIN WAS ON A ROLL. WAGONS RAN FROM MEETEETSE TO KIRWIN EVERY OTHER DAY.>>WAGON TRAFFIC WOULD COME UP ONE DAY, AND THEN EVERY OTHER DAY, THEY WOULD CHANGE DIRECTION, SO THEY DIDN’T–ON THE NARROW ROADS, THEY COULDN’T–THAT’S THE ONLY WAY THEY COULD DO IT.>>RUMOR HAD IT THAT THE BURLINGTON RAILROAD WOULD BUILD A LINE FROM CODY TO MEETEETSE AND FROM THERE A SPUR LINE TO KIRWIN. ROCKY MOUNTAIN BELL ANNOUNCED IT WOULD CONSTRUCT A TELEPHONE LINE. AN INGENIOUS POWER PLANT WAS BUILT THAT CONVERTED RIVER WATER INTO ELECTRICITY.>>THIS IS THE SITE OF THE ELECTRIC POWER FOR KIRWIN AND ALSO THE POWER THAT GAVE AIR POWER THE GALENA RIDGE TUNNEL THAT’S UP THE HILL HERE. THIS IS THE FLYWHEEL THAT PROVIDED THE STABILIZATION FOR THE AIR COMPRESSOR, WHICH IS BEHIND HERE. WHAT THEY DID WAS TAKE THE WATER OUT OF WOOD RIVER ON GRADE, ON THE FLUME, RUN IT AROUND HERE JUST DUE NORTH OF THIS FLYWHEEL, SEND IT DOWN THROUGH A PEN STOCK, AND SHOT IT INTO A PELTON WHEEL. THIS PROVIDED THE POWER FOR KIRWIN.>>IN 1905, THE TOWN WAS AWASH IN TALES OF NEW PROSPERITY. ALL THE HARD WORK SEEMED TO BE PAYING OFF. THE GALENA RIDGE TUNNEL HAD BEEN DRIVEN INTO THE MOUNTAIN SOME 600 FEET. ASSAY REPORTS SHOWED GREAT AMOUNTS OF COPPER, SILVER, AND GOLD. THE WYOMING MINING COMPANY HAD TAKEN ITS SHAFT TO 250 FEET AND UNCOVERED A LEDGE 6 FEET WIDE SHOWING VERY HIGH-GRADE ORE OF GOLD AND COPPER. A 14-INCH STREAK LOOKED LIKE IT MIGHT PAY OFF BIG IN SILVER. NEWSPAPERS PREDICTED KIRWIN WOULD HAVE A POPULATION IN THE THOUSANDS WITHIN 3 YEARS. THE MOOD IN THE MINING CAMP WAS JUBILANT. THERE WAS TALK OF BUILDING AN ORE CONCENTRATOR AND A SMELTER. PROSPERITY SEEMED ALMOST PALPABLE, BUT DARK CLOUDS WERE FORMING ON THE HORIZON. OCTOBER 1906 SAW THE GALENA RIDGE MINE SHUT DOWN DUE TO LACK OF POWER AND SUPPLIES. IN LATE NOVEMBER, A FIRE DESTROYED THE SURFACE WORKS OF THE BRYAN MINE. MOST OF THE PROMISING FINDS WERE SIMPLY NOT PANNING OUT.>>THE GOLD AND SILVER WAS IN DISCONTINUOUS VEINS AND POCKETS WITHIN THESE VEINS, SOME RICH BUT NOT THAT MUCH OF IT, EVEN THOUGH THE HYPE WAS IN THE EARLY DAYS OF 1900 “THERE’S A LOT OF GOLD THERE, THERE’S RICH GOLD ORE THERE, AND PLENTY OF IT!”>>NOW THEY FOUND SOME VERY VALUABLE ORE HERE, BUT IN THIS AREA, THE ORE OCCURRED IN POCKETS. AT FIRST, THEY FOUND SOME VERY RICH ORE, AND LATER, THEY FOUND SOME GOOD POCKETS BUT NEVER ENOUGH TO MAKE IT WORTHWHILE, AND FINALLY TOWARD THE END, THEY JUST DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH GOLD OR SILVER VALUES TO KEEP KIRWIN GOING.>>SNOW USHERED IN THE NEW YEAR OF 1907. IT PILED HIGHER AND HIGHER AROUND KIRWIN. THEN ON THE EVENING OF FEBRUARY 5 AFTER 9 CONSECUTIVE DAYS OF HEAVY SNOW AND AN ESTIMATED 50 FEET OF ACCUMULATION, IT LET LOOSE IN A WHITE FURY.>>WHEN THAT SLID, IT SLID DOWN BROWN GULCH AND TOOK OUT A CABIN BELOW, KILLING CHARLIE BURNELL, MRS. BURNELL, AND ANOTHER MAN, AND THEY REPORTED THAT THE LADY MRS. BURNELL WAS STILL IN HER ROCKING CHAIR DOUBLED OVER DEAD WHEN THEY FOUND HER. THE MEETEETSE–A MEETEETSE CREW CAME UP TO RESCUE THE PEOPLE, ANY THAT WANTED TO GO, AND ALSO RETRIEVE THE BODIES. THEY SAID AT THAT TIME, “IF YOU WANT TO GO, IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE, LEAVE WITH US, OR YOU’LL BE STAYING HERE.” MANY PEOPLE JUST PICKED UP AND LEFT AND LEFT EVERYTHING EXCEPT JUST THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACK AND WENT WITH THE RESCUE CREW. THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE END OF THE KIRWIN MINING BOOM IN FEBRUARY OF 1907.>>EVEN THOUGH KIRWIN WAS ESSENTIALLY ABANDONED, TEWKSBURY STILL CAME EVERY SUMMER UNTIL 1922, FILING AND PROVING UP CLAIMS, TRYING TO REVIVE INTEREST BUT TO NO AVAIL. THE BUILDINGS GRADUALLY FELL INTO DISREPAIR AND DECAY. BROKEN ROCKS LAY STREWN ABOUT, ECHOING THE BROKEN DREAMS OF THE PROSPECTORS AND PROMOTERS, THE SPECULATORS AND MINING FAMILIES WHO ONCE CALLED KIRWIN HOME, BUT A NEW ERA WAS DAWNING.>>DURING THE 19th CENTURY, THE AMERICAN WEST BEGAN TO DEVELOP A HEROIC MYSTIQUE. THROUGH DIME NOVELS AND MAGAZINE STORIES, BOOKS AND POSTERS, ROMANTIC IMAGES FILLED THE HEADS OF CITY-BOUND EASTERNERS, IMAGES OF COWBOYS AND INDIANS, HORSES AND CATTLE, WIDE-OPEN SPACES AND STARRY NIGHTS. BUFFALO BILL CODY WAS ONE OF ITS MAJOR ADVOCATES AND PROMOTERS. WHEN HE BROUGHT HIS WILD WEST SHOW EAST, PEOPLE THRONGED TO THE VENUES TO GET A TASTE OF THIS MYTHIC CULTURE. BY THE LATE 1880s, RAILROADS HAD OPENED UP THE WEST. NOW PEOPLE COULD TRAVEL IN RELATIVE COMFORT TO A LAND LONG INACCESSIBLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. AT FIRST, THOSE TRAVELING THROUGH WESTERN CATTLE COUNTRY WERE INVITED TO STAY WITH RANCH FAMILIES FREE OF CHARGE. WESTERN HOSPITALITY QUICKLY BECAME LEGEND. GOLD SEEKERS AND HOMESTEADERS, IMMIGRANTS AND ADVENTURERS BEGAN ARRIVING IN WYOMING BY TRAIN. THEY WERE SOON FOLLOWED BY TOURISTS OR DUDES, AS THE RANCHERS CALLED THEM. RAILROADS ACTIVELY PROMOTED DUDE RANCH VACATIONS TO INCREASE TICKET SALES. AS MORE PEOPLE ARRIVED, THE BURDEN AND EXPENSE OF PUTTING UP AND FEEDING VISITORS INCREASED. MANY RANCHERS BEGAN CHARGING FOR OVERNIGHT STAYS. BEFORE LONG, THE DUDE BECAME AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INCOME ON MANY WESTERN CATTLE RANCHES, AND DUDE RANCHING AS A BUSINESS BEGAN TO TAKE SHAPE.>>QUITE A FEW OF THE RANCHERS THAT WERE SEEKING AN ALTERNATE OR SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME WOULD SAY, “WELL, MAYBE WE CAN PUT SOMEBODY UP. SOME OF THESE EASTERNERS WOULD LIKE TO COME, AND THEY’RE INTERESTED IN THE WEST. MAYBE WE CAN–MAYBE WE CAN ACCOMMODATE THEM AND THEN MAYBE EVEN TAKE THEM–SHOW THEM AROUND, AND MAYBE WE CAN MAKE SOME EXTRA INCOME.”>>BY 1929, WYOMING DUDE RANCHES ALONE WERE HOSTING MORE THAN 10,000 GUESTS A YEAR. INTO THIS HEADY MIX OF THE OLD AND NEW WEST STRODE A MAN WHO LIVED FOR ADVENTURE, A MAN WHOSE ENTHUSIASM FOR LIFE WAS AS BIG AS THE WYOMING SKY, ENTREPRENEUR AND RACONTEUR, EXPEDITIONIST AND FAMILY MAN. HIS NAME WAS CARL DUNRUD.>>DAD WAS BORN IN 1891 IN FOSTON, MINNESOTA. IN THE FOURTH GRADE, HIS DAD SAID, “WE NEED YOU TO HELP WITH THE FARM.” SO HE LEFT SCHOOL AT FOURTH GRADE, AND IT’S KIND OF AMAZING WHEN WE LOOK FORWARD AT HIS LIFE HOW HE HAD BEEN A SELF-TAUGHT PERSON ALL HIS LIFE. PICKED UP THINGS, AND YOU MIGHT SAY ITS ON-THE-JOB TRAINING. IN 1911, HE LEFT HOME TO GO HOMESTEADING IN MONTANA, AND AT THAT TIME, YOUR HOMESTEAD PLOT WAS 160 ACRES, AND HE BEGAN TO RAISE FAIRLY GOOD CASH CROPS, BUT THEN HE HAILED OUT. HOW MANY TIMES?>>3 YEARS IN A ROW.>>3 YEARS IN A ROW, AND HAILING OUT MEANS THAT HE LOST HIS CROP TO HAIL. IN 1917, AS DAD PUT IT, “MY UNCLE SAMMY WROTE ME A LETTER. GREETINGS, WE’D LIKE YOU TO JOIN MY ARMY.” AND HE WAS THEN SHIPPED TO CAMP LEWIS, WASHINGTON, WHERE HE SERVED IN THE REMOUNT, WHICH IS THE CAVALRY, AND HE WAS IN THE VETERINARIAN CORPS OF THE CAVALRY. HE STAYED THERE TILL THE WAR WAS OVER, SERVING AS A VETERINARIAN HELPER GET THE WOUNDED HORSES BACK HEALTHY. THEY USED TO DO A LOT OF GAMES ON HORSES IN THEIR OFF TIME, BOXING ON HORSEBACK, TRICK RIDING, AND THEN RIDING SOME OF THE UNBROKE HORSES OR THE PARTIALLY BROKE HORSES IN THAT TIME.>>I RAN SHAVED HILL UP TO THE HURDLES, BUT HE WOULDN’T JUMP. I WENT BACK AND WHIPPED HIM A LITTLE AND GAVE HIM ANOTHER TRY. HE JUMPED A HURDLE AND THEN WENT TO BUCKING ACROSS THE ARENA UNTIL HE WAS IN THE MIDST OF A GROUP OF MEN BOXING ON HORSEBACK. I STOPPED HIM FROM BUCKING AND RODE BACK TO WHERE HE HAD BUCKED MY HAT OFF. AS I LEANED OVER TO PICK UP MY HAT, SHAVED HILL CLOBBERED ME WITH A FRONT HOOF. HE STAGGERED ME, BUT I DIDN’T LET GO OF THE REINS. I HAD A 3-INCH GASH IN MY HEAD, WHICH DIDN’T HURT, BUT THE BLOOD RAN DOWN MY FACE AND SHOULDER UNTIL IT EVEN SOAKED THROUGH MY OLIVE DRAB COAT AS I RODE TO THE INFIRMARY. I HAD TO RIDE BY A MOUNTED GUARD, WHO SAID, “MY GOD. YOU’RE PRETTY NEAR DEAD.” “THE HELL I AM,” I SAID AND KEPT GOING.>>IN 1921 TO 1925, DAD WAS A PACKER AND A RANGER IN YELLOWSTONE PARK. DURING THAT TIME, HE TOOK OUT DIFFERENT GROUPS, FISHING TRIPS AND SO ON, SCENIC TRIPS INTO YELLOWSTONE PARK, AND ONE OF THE MORE FAMOUS ONES WAS GEORGE PALMER PUTNAM, WHO WAS THERE ONCE AND THEN RETURNED FOR A SECOND TRIP.>>PUTNAM, HEIR TO THE FAMOUS PUBLISHING COMPANY G.P. PUTNAM SONS MATCHED DUNRUD IN HIS THIRST FOR NEW EXPERIENCES. ANYTHING THAT COULD GET HIM AWAY FROM HIS DESK-BOUND WORK HE PURSUED WITH VIGOR.>>ONE OF HIS JOBS AS A RANGER IN THE PARK WAS TO GUIDE PUTNAM AROUND IN THE GEYSER BASIN TO GET THE SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION ON ALL THE TEMPERATURES OF THE GEYSER BASIN.>>WHEN THE PROSPECT AROSE FOR PUTNAM TO LEAD AN EXPEDITION TO GREENLAND IN 1926, HE SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY AND PUT TOGETHER A CREW, INCLUDING HIS FRIEND CARL DUNRUD. PUTNAM WAS EXCITED. IN ADDITION TO DUNRUD, HE HAD SECURED A PATHE NEWSREEL PHOTOGRAPHER TO DOCUMENT THE TRIP AND ROBERT BARTLETT, ADMIRAL PEARY’S SKIPPER DURING THE NORTH POLE DISCOVERY OF 1909. THEY WOULD SAIL FOR GREENLAND ABOARD HIS 109-FOOT SCHOONER THE MORRISSEY.>>SO THEY WENT TO GREENLAND NORTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, GOT SHIPWRECKED UP THERE, AND THEY WENT ACROSS ONE OF THE MORE DANGEROUS GLACIAL FIELDS TWICE. THEY CALLED IT THE SAILORS’ GRAVEYARD IN NORTHERN GREENLAND.>>DURING THE EXPEDITION, CARL WAS CALLED UPON TO PUT HIS RODEO TALENT TO USE.>>HE HAD RIDDEN A BUFFALO IN YELLOWSTONE PARK, AND GEORGE PUTNAM SAID, “OH. WE WANT YOU TO RIDE A MUSKOX WHEN YOU GET UP IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, NORTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.” WHEN THEY GOT TO THE HERD OF MUSKOX, IT WAS OVERCAST, A BLIZZARD, REAL ROUGH WEATHER, AND GEORGE SAID, “WELL, WE DON’T NEED TO DO THIS,” AND DAD SAID, “I WAS REALLY GLAD.”>>CARL ALSO USED HIS RANCHING SKILLS TO ROPE ANIMALS OF QUITE A DIFFERENT NATURE THAN THE HORSES AND CATTLE HE LASSOED BACK IN WYOMING.>>WELL, HE’D PUT A ROPE ON–HE ROPED THE WALRUS. THE WALRUS DIED AND TRIED TO SHAKE THE ROPE OFF, AND A LOT OF TIMES, IT COULD BECAUSE ITS NECK WAS SO BIG. HE SAID HE HAD A HARD TIME ROPING THE WALRUS.>>BUT THE BIGGEST PRIZE WAS THE CAPTURE OF TWO ORPHANED POLAR BEAR CUBS.>>THAT WAS ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS HE WENT UP BESIDES BEING AN INTERPRETER, I THINK, WAS TO BRING BACK LIVE SPECIMENS.>>REALIZING THE CUBS WERE SOE 20 MILES FROM SHORE, I WAS DETERMINED TO ROPE THEM, TAKE THEM ABOARD SHIP, AND FEED THEM. I ROPED ONE OF THEM WITH MY FIRST THROW. HE WAS FULL OF FIGHT WHEN WE STARTED TO PULL HIM IN. HE GROWLED AND SNARLED AT ME. THEN HE TRIED TO CHEW THE ROPE, SCRATCH THE BOAT, AND CLIMB IN THE BOAT WITH US ALL AT THE SAME TIME. SOON, WE HAD BOTH THE MALE AND FEMALE ON DECK. THE TWO BEAR WERE HELD WITH THE BURTONS SO IF THE MADE A RUN AT SOMEONE ON DECK THEY WOULD SWING OFF THE DECK AND THEN SWING BACK. WE SOON HAD BOTH THE MALE AND FEMALE IN CAGES.>>THEY GOT REALLY, REALLY TAME, AND THEY WOULD LICK BUTTER OFF HIS HANDS, HE SAID.>>THE BEAR CUBS CONTINUED THEIR JOURNEY WITH THE CREW. BY THE TIME THEY ARRIVED IN NEW YORK AFTER 3 MONTHS AT SEA, CARL HELPED TRANSPORT THE CUBS TO THE BRONX ZOO. NEW YORK WASN’T CARL DUNRUD’S IDEA OF THE GOOD LIFE. HE WAS 35, AND THOUGHTS OF SETTLING DOWN HAD BEGUN TO CROSS HIS MIND. SO HE HEADED BACK TO WYOMIN WHERE HE MET UP WITH AN OLD BUDDY FROM HIS YELLOWSTONE PARK DAYS. IT WAS 1928.>>ELMER BERGQUIST GOT AHOLD OF HIM AND TOLD HIM THAT HE HAD A DUDE RANCH. IF DAD WAS INTERESTED, HE WOULD LIKE TO GO IN PARTNERS WITH HIM BECAUSE THEY’D MET EACH OTHER PREVIOUSLY AND KNEW EACH OTHER PRETTY WELL.>>CARL AND ELMER, WITH A LOAN FROM A MEETEETSE BANK, LEASED THE TIMBER CREEK RANCH, A PROPERTY OWNED BY THE FAMOUS PITCHFORK RANCH, PIONEERED BY OTTO FRANK. THE PITCHFORK WAS UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP AND MANAGED BY A CAMERA-TOTING FOREMAN NAMED CHARLES BELDEN. CHARLES BELDEN WAS BORN IN 1888 TO A WEALTHY CALIFORNIA FAMILY. HE GRADUATED FROM THE MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY IN 1909. AFTER TRAVELING AND PHOTOGRAPHING EUROPE WITH HIS COLLEGE ROOMMATE EUGENE PHELPS, HE WAS INVITED THE PHELPS’ PITCHFORK RANCH TO WORK. THERE, BELDEN CONTINUED TO PURSUE AN INTEREST IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND BEGAN TAKING PICTURES OF EVERYDAY LIFE ON THE RANCH. TODAY, HIS PHOTOS FROM THE PITCHFORK ARE WIDELY REGARDED AS AMONG THE BEST OF THE GREAT WESTERN PHOTOGRAPHERS. IN 1929, CARL WEDDED VERA STAHLY, A SCHOOLTEACHER FROM NEBRASKA. VERA WOULD BE THE GLUE THAT HELD THINGS TOGETHER IN THE COMING YEARS. ON THAT SAME JUNE DAY, ELMER ALSO MARRIED. NOW THERE WERE 4 TO RUN THE DUDE RANCH. THROUGH CARL’S EAST COAST CONNECTIONS, BUSINESS CONTINUED TO THRIVE, BUT AFTER A YEAR, THE RANCH HOUSE SEEMED SMALL FOR TWO GROWING FAMILIES, SO THEY MUTUALLY DECIDED TO PART WAYS. CARL AND VERA NEGOTIATED WITH HENRY SCHNITZEL’S RELATIVES TO BUY THE KIRWIN MINING PROPERTY AND SURROUNDING LAND. ON THIS 3,500-ACRE PARCEL, THEY INTENDED TO BUILD A DUDE RANCH FROM THE GROUND UP. MOVING INTO AN EXISTING ONE-ROOM HOMESTEAD CABIN IN THE FALL OF 1931, THEY CALLED IT THE DOUBLE “D.”>>THIS IS LAND THAT DAD ACQUIRED, CARL DUNRUD, IN 1931 AND STARTED BUILDING THESE–THE LODGE AND THE GUEST CABINS FOR A DUDE RANCH.>>HE REALLY WAS A RISK TAKER BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, AT THE TIME HE WAS BUYING IT THE 1929 CRASH HAD ALREADY HAPPENED, SO YOU KNEW THAT THINGS WERE GONNA GET WORSE INSTEAD OF BETTER FOR A WHILE, AND HE WAS A RISK TAKER AND KIND OF AN ENTREPRENEUR.>>CARL IMMEDIATELY BEGAN BUILDING A TWO-ROOM LOG CABIN FOR HIS FAMILY AND THEN TURNED HIS ATTENTION TO A LODGE AND GUEST CABINS. HE DESIGNED AND BUILT THE STRUCTURES, EMPLOYING THE SAME CRAFTSMANSHIP HANDED DOWN BY HIS NORWEGIAN ANCESTORS.>>SO YOU HAVE BUILDING STONE THAT IS UNBELIEVABLY PRECISE. YOU CAN BUILD THINGS WITH IT. DAD, WHEN HE BUILT THIS FOUNDATION, HE SNAKED IT WITH A TEAM AND A STONE BOAT OR JUST A TEAM IF HE HAD A GREAT BIG ROCK AND PULLED THEM OVER AND USED THEM FOR HIS FOUNDATION AND FOR THE FLOWER GARDEN AND THE BOUNDS IN FRONT. SOME OF THEM ARE JUST UNBELIEVABLY PLANAR, UNIQUE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR THE LODGE.>>CARL AND HIS RANCH HANDS ALSO FABRICATED THE FURNITURE FOR THE INTERIORS–TABLES, BEDS, CHAIRS–IN THE RUSTIC PLANK AND POLE TRADITION HE KNEW FROM HIS HOMESTEADING DAYS. USING LOCAL MATERIALS READILY AVAILABLE TO THEM, THEY BUILT FUNCTIONAL, STURDY FURNITURE WITHOUT MUCH THOUGHT TO DESIGN. RANCH FURNITURE LIKE THIS WOULD SOON INSPIRE A CRAFTSMAN WHO DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF BY CREATING FINE FURNITURE IN THE RUSTIC TRADITION–THOMAS MOLESWORTH. MOLESWORTH TRAINED AT THE CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE IN THE EARLY 1900s, WHERE HE BECAME FAMILIAR WITH THE PREVAILING FURNITURE AND DESIGN INFLUENCES OF THE DAY. IN 1931, HE OPENED THE SHOSHONE FURNITURE COMPANY IN CODY, WYOMING. DURING THE NEXT 30 YEARS, HE WOULD EMPLOY HIS UNIQUE SENSE OF STYLE WITH A KEEN ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND MATERIALS AND A PLAYFUL CREATIVITY TO FASHION HIS OWN VISION OF COWBOY RANCH FURNITURE. WHEN THE DOUBLE DEE WAS COMPLETED IN 1933, CARL ONCE AGAIN WENT TO HIS EASTERN CONTACTS TO SOLICIT BUSINESS. HE CALLED HIS OLD YELLOWSTONE AND ARCTIC EXPEDITION FRIEND GEORGE PUTNAM, WHO MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO VISIT WITH HIS WIFE AMELIA EARHART. AMELIA EARHART WAS BORN IN ATCHISON, KANSAS, IN 1897. FROM THE BEGINNING, SHE DISPLAYED A PENCHANT FOR RISK AND ADVENTURE. AS A YOUNG GIRL, SHE CLIMBED TREES, HUNTED RATS WITH A .22 RIFLE, AND DID BELLY FLOPS ON HER SLED TO SPEED DOWN SNOW-COVERED HILLS IN THE WINTER. SHE SAW HER FIRST AIRPLANE AT THE IOWA STATE FAIR IN 1907.>>IT WAS A THING OF RUSTY WIRE AND WOOD AND NOT AT ALL INTERESTING.>>BUT IN 1920 WHILE ATTENDING A STUNT FLYING EXHIBITION, SHE TOOK A 10-MINUTE RIDE WITH PILOT FRANK HAWKS THAT WOULD CHANGE HER LIFE FOREVER.>>BY THE TIME I HAD GOT 200 OR 300 FEET OFF THE GROUND, I KNEW I HAD TO FLY.>>JUST 5 DAYS LATER, SHE ENROLLED IN FLIGHT SCHOOL WITH INSTRUCTOR NETA SNOOK. AMELIA HAD FOUND HER CALLING, BUT HER CAREER REALLY TOOK OFF IN 1928 WHEN SHE WAS ASKED IF SHE’D BE INTERESTED IN BEING THE FIRST WOMAN TO FLY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. SHE JUMPED AT THE CHANCE. AFTER INTERVIEWS WITH THE PROJECT LEADERS, INCLUDING GEORGE PALMER PUTNAM, EARHART JOINED THE TEAM, WHICH INCLUDED PILOT WILMER “BILL” STULTZ AND CO-PILOT MECHANIC LOUIS “SLIM” GORDON. IN A FOKKER F.VII AIRCRAFT DUBBED THE FRIENDSHIP, THE CREW DEPARTED TREPASSEY HARBOR, NEWFOUNDLAND, ON JUNE 17, 1928. SINCE SHE HAD NO TRAINING ON NAVIGATIONAL INSTRUMENTS, AMELIA DID NOT PILOT THE AIRPLANE, BUT WHEN THEY ARRIVED AT BURRY PORT, WALES, SOME 21 HOURS LATER, EVEN AS A PASSENGER, AMELIA WAS A CELEBRITY. HEADLINES FLASHED ACROSS THE WORLD. THEY WERE HERALDED WITH A TICKERTAPE PARADE IN NEW YORK CITY. PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE HELD A RECEPTION FOR THEM AT THE WHITE HOUSE, BUT AMELIA WASN’T HAPPY WITH HER STATUS AS MERELY A PASSENGER ON THAT FAMOUS FLIGHT. SHE WANTED TO SOAR TO EVEN GREATER HEIGHTS AS AN AVIATOR AND A CHAMPION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS. DURING PREPARATIONS FOR THE ATLANTIC FLIGHT, A ROMANCE WITH GEORGE PUTNAM HAD BLOOMED. IN 1929, HE DIVORCED HIS WIFE AND ASKED AMELIA TO MARRY HIM. 10 YEARS HIS JUNIOR, SHE WAS RELUCTANT AT FIRST, WRITING TO PUTNAM…>>YOU MUST KNOW AGAIN MY RELUCTANCY TO MARRY, MY FEELINGS THAT I SHATTER THEREBY CHANCES I WORK, WHICH MEANS SO MUCH TO ME.>>BUT AFTER SIGNING A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT THAT GUARANTEED HER CONTINUED INDEPENDENCE, THE COUPLE MARRIED IN FEBRUARY, 1931. SHE REFERRED TO THE ARRANGEMENT AS A PARTNERSHIP WITH DUAL CONTROL. AMELIA WAS READY TO CONQUER THE WORLD OF AVIATION. PUTNAM WOULD CONTINUE SUPPORTING AND PUBLICIZING HER FLYING CAREER. OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS, AMELIA EARHART SET A DIZZYING ARRAY OF FLIGHT RECORDS AND CULTIVATED EVEN MORE FAME. EARHART WAS AT THE HEIGHT OF HER CELEBRITY. SHE WAS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS WOMEN IN THE WORLD. THE LECTURE CIRCUIT WAS A LUCRATIVE WAY TO FUND FUTURE AVIATION ADVENTURES, AND GEORGE PUTNAM, LIKE ANY GOOD PROMOTER, TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT, BUT THE PACE OF IT ALL WAS AS STRENUOUS AS HER FLIGHTS. SHE SOMETIMES SPOKE IN 30 DIFFERENT CITIES IN 30 DAYS, AND EVERYWHERE SHE WENT, SHE WAS HOUNDED BY THE PRESS. BEFORE THEIR MARRIAGE, SHE HAD CONFIDED TO PUTNAM…>>I MAY HAVE TO KEEP SOMEPLACE WHERE I CAN GO TO BE BY MYSELF NOW AND THEN, FOR I CANNOT GUARANTEE TO ENDURE AT ALL TIMES THE CONFINEMENTS OF EVEN AN ATTRACTIVE CAGE.>>AND SO IN THE SUMMER OF 1934, AMELIA MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO FLEE FROM THE SPOTLIGHT IF ONLY FOR A WHILE. HER HUSBAND WOULD JOIN HER LATER. ALWAYS KEEN FOR ADVENTURE, SHE DROVE HER AIR-COOLED FRANKLIN AUTOMOBILE FROM NEW YORK TO WYOMING. IT WASN’T UNTIL SHE REACHED DOUGLAS, WYOMING, JUST EAST OF CASPER, THAT SHE WAS RECOGNIZED BY A SERVICE STATION ATTENDANT. THE ANONYMITY MUST HAVE BEEN DELIGHTFUL.>>SHE DROVE TO MEETEETSE AND DROVE UP THAT ROAD. DAD MUST HAVE MET HER BECAUSE SHE STALLED OUT ON ONE OF THE STEEPER HILLS, AND LUCKILY, HE WAS ABLE TO ADJUST THE CARBURETOR FOR HIGHER ALTITUDE AND MADE IT ON UP TO THE DOUBLE “D.” I FIRST MET AMELIA EARHART IN 1934 AS A LITTLE 4-YEAR-OLD KID, AND SHE REALLY ENJOYED OUR FAMILY AND ENJOYED THIS COUNTRY, AND DAD TOOK HER ON A TWO-WEEK PACK TRIP TO THE WIND RIVERS BACK HERE, AND SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE COUNTRY, AND HER HUSBAND GEORGE PALMER PUTNAM DID, TOO.>>AND IT WAS A NICE TRIP HE DID, PRETTY GOOD SCENERY AND ALL, AND THEN USUALLY, A DAY OR TWO, THEN WE’D HEAD UP TO KIRWIN AND GO OVER–PACK OUT FROM THERE AND GO INTO EMERALD CREEK, WHICH WAS ALWAYS REALLY GOOD FISHING. GOT PICTURES. I THINK THERE’S SOME PICTURES OF AMELIA WHEN SHE WAS BACK–OVER THERE.>>SHE REALLY LIKED US KIDS, AND SHE LIKED US AS A FAMILY, AND MY MOTHER I REMEMBER SAYING, “AMELIA WAS A VERY KIND, GENTLE PERSON.” SHE SENT US A FOOT LOCKER, A BIG LOCKER FULL OF PRESENTS FOR US, AND I RECALL THAT SHE SENT ME A BAMBOO FISHING POLE WITH A BEAUTIFUL ALUMINUM CASE TO IT. SHE SENT A .22 RIFLE AND AN AIR RIFLE, AND I CHERISHED THOSE ALL MY LIFE, AND SHE SENT DAD A SET OF TIRES FOR HIS MODEL “A” TRUCK. WE DROVE THOSE–USED THOSE TIRES FOR AT LEAST 10, 15 YEARS.>>IN THE TRIP BACK INTO THE MOUNTAINS ABOVE KIRWIN, SHE FOUND A PLACE THAT SHE REALLY LIKED AND ASKED DAD TO BUILD HER A CABIN THERE.>>PUTNAM WROTE TO MY DAD IN 1935 WITH INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO BUILD THIS CABIN, AND HE HAD SAID, “BUILD A FIREPLACE. WE WANT IT THIS CERTAIN WAY,” AND THEN HE SAID, “WELL, CARL. LOOKS LIKE WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A CABIN–A HOME OUT IN WYOMING.” AND SO IN 1937, DAD STARTED THE CABIN, AND HERE’S THE CABIN SITE HERE. IT’S KIND OF DILAPIDATED NOW. IT WAS 4 LOGS HIGH WHEN AMELIA IN JULY 2 OF 1937 WAS LOST IN THE PACIFIC.>>SHORTLY BEFORE HER 40th BIRTHDAY IN 1937, AMELIA CONFIDED TO GEORGE THAT SHE WANTED TO FLY AROUND THE WORLD AT ITS GIRTH, THE LONGEST POSSIBLE DISTANCE.>>I HAVE A FEELING THAT THERE IS JUST ABOUT ONE MORE GOOD FLIGHT LEFT IN MY SYSTEM, AND I HOPE THIS TRIP IS IT.>>AMELIA ASKED FRED NOONAN TO ACCOMPANY HER BECAUSE OF HIS EXPERIENCE OVER THE PACIFIC AS A NAVIGATOR FOR PAN AMERICAN AIRLINES. ON MAY 21, 1937, EARHART AND NOONAN BOARDED A LOCKHEED ELECTRA AND EMBARKED ON THEIR EPIC FLIGHT OF 29,000 MILES. DEPARTING FROM OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, OVER THE NEXT 30 DAYS, THEY WOULD JUMP FROM POINT TO POINT ON A PREPARED FLIGHT PLAN WHILE DEALING WITH SUCH ISSUES AS MONSOONS, DYSENTERY, ENGINE AND INSTRUMENT REPAIR. FROM CALIFORNIA TO FLORIDA, THEN OFF TO PUERTO RICO, ON TO SOUTH AMERICA, AND ACROSS THE ATLANTIC TO AFRICA. TO INDIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, THEN ON TO INDONESIA AND AUSTRALIA. THE FLIGHT FOR THE MOST PART WAS GOING AS PLANNED. ON JUNE 29, THEY REACHED LAE, NEW GUINEA. ONLY 7,000 MILES TO GO, BUT THE NEXT STOP BEFORE HAWAII WOULD BE A NAVIGATIONALLY CHALLENGING LOCATION, TINY HOWLAND ISLAND, A MILE AND A HALF LONG BY HALF A MILE WIDE, OVER 2,500 MILES OUT IN THE PACIFIC. EARHART AND NOONAN JETTISONED ALL NONESSENTIAL ITEMS FROM THE PLANE TO MAKE ROOM FOR ADDITIONAL FUEL. THEY WOULD HAVE A CUSHION OF APPROXIMATELY 274 EXTRA MILES. THE U.S. COAST GUARD CUTTER ITASCA WAS STATIONED OFFSHORE AT HOWLAND ISLAND TO PROVIDE RADIO CONTACT. AT NN ON JULY 2, 1937, THE ELECTRA TOOK OFF FROM THE DIRT RUNAWAY AT LAE, PACKING 1,000 GALLONS OF FUEL, ABOUT 20 HOURS OF FLIGHT TIME. NOONAN’S FLIGHT PLAN CALLED FOR APPROXIMATELY 18 HOURS OF TRAVEL. THEY WOULD FLY USING NOONAN’S CELESTIAL NAVIGATION SKILLS AND THEN RELY ON RADIO CONTACT WITH THE ITASCA TO FIND THE ISLAND. DESPITE GOOD WEATHER REPORTS, OVERCAST SKIES AND INTERMITTENT RAIN MOVED IN, MAKING CELESTIAL NAVIGATION IMPOSSIBLE AND HAMPERING COMMUNICATIONS. DURING THE FLIGHT, IRREGULAR RADIO TRANSMISSIONS FROM EARHART WERE FAINT AND FILLED WITH STATIC, BUT AT 1930 HOURS INTO THE FLIGHT, EARHART’S VOICE CAME THROUGH TO THE ITASCA.>>WE MUST BE ON YOU, BUT WE CANNOT SEE YOU, BUT GAS IS RUNNING LOW. BEEN UNABLE TO REACH YOU BY RADIO. WE ARE FLYING AT 1,000 FEET.>>THE ITASCA CONTINUED TRANSMISSION, BUT TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION COULD NOT BE ESTABLISHED. A FEW MINUTES LATER, IT WAS EARHART AGAIN.>>WE ARE CIRCLING BUT CANNOT HEAR YOU.>>AND THEN THE FINAL TRANSMISSION.>>KHAQQ TO ITASCA. WE ARE ONLINE OF POSITION 157-337. WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KILOCYCLES. WE ARE RUNNING NORTH AND SOUTH.>>THE RADIO CONTROLLERS ABOARD THE ITASCA FRANTICALLY SENT AND RESENT MESSAGES, BUT THERE WAS NO FURTHER CONTACT. AT 2130 HOURS, THEY ABANDONED THEIR EFFORT. UNDER THE ORDERS OF PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, 9 NAVAL SHIPS AND 66 AIRCRAFT EMBARKED ON A MASSIVE AIR AND SEA SEARCH ACROSS 250,000 MILES OF OCEAN. AFTER MORE THAN TWO WEEKS OF CONCERTED EFFORT, THE SEARCH WAS ABANDONED ON JULY 18. GEORGE PUTNAM CONTINUED THE SEARCH UNTIL OCTOBER TO NO AVAIL. AMELIA AND FRED NOONAN WERE GONE.>>AND WE WERE ALL SADDENED BY HER LOSS IN THE PACIFIC.>>AS FAR AS AMELIA, MOM REALLY THOUGHT SHE WAS A REALLY NICE LADY, AND THEY GOT ALONG REAL GOOD, AND IT WAS REALLY OF COURSE QUITE A BLOW WHEN SHE WAS LOST, AND THEY HAD REALLY HARD FEELINGS.>>EARHART’S OWN COURAGE AND BRAVERY ARE ILLUSTRATED IN A LETTER LEFT TO PUTNAM IN CASE THE FLIGHT WERE BE HER LAST.>>PLEASE KNOW I’M QUITE AWARE OF THE HAZARDS. I WANT TO DO IT BECAUSE I WANT TO DO IT. WOMEN MUST TRY TO DO THINGS AS MEN HAVE TRIED. WHEN THEY FAIL, THEIR FAILURE MUST BE BUT A CHALLENGE FOR OTHERS.>>YEARS LATER, CARL DUNRUD WOULD SPEARHEAD A DRIVE TO INSTALL A MONUMENT IN MEETEETSE COMMEMORATING EARHART’S VISIT TO WYOMING. CARL DUNRUD CLOSED THE DOUBLE DEE DUDE RANCH IN 1941 AFTER TOURISM FELL OFF WITH THE ADVENT OF WORLD WAR II. HE SOLD THE DOUBLE DEE PROPERTY IN THE LATE FORTIES AND THE LAND AROUND KIRWIN IN 1959, BUT THE THIRST FOR ADVENTURE NEVER LEFT HIM. CARL DUNRUD WENT ON TO MORE ESCAPADES, WORKING FOR OIL COMPANIES ON THE ALASKA PENINSULA, WHERE HE MADE FRIENDS WITH THE NATIVE ALEUTS, AND THEN ON TO THE NORTH SLOPE, 50 MILES SOUTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE. HE DIED IN 1976 AFTER 85 YEARS OF RISKY BUSINESS.>>RISKY BUSINESS. YEAH. YEAH. RISKY BUSINESS, BUT, “LET’S GO. LET’S GO DO IT.” THAT WAS HIS PHILOSOPHY.>>THE AMAX COMPANY, A MINING CORPORATION, BOUGHT THIS PROPERTY IN 1962.>>AMAX DRILLED OUT VAST TONNAGES OF MOLYBDENUM AND COPPER. IT’S KIND OF IRONIC. AFTER MUCH PAIN AND LITTLE GAIN, THERE COULD HAVE BEEN GAIN ANOTHER WAY, BUT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENVIRONMENTALLY UNACCEPTABLE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE TO OPEN-PIT THAT BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN.>>THE COPPER KIND OF LIKE IT WAS THE MAIN MINERAL THAT WAS GONNA PAY OFF. THE PRICE OF IT DROPPED, AND SO THAT WAS KIND OF THE END OF IT.>>AND IT WAS PURCHASED BY THE MELLON FOUNDATION IN 1992, AND THE MELLON FOUNDATION THEN DONATED IT BACK TO THE PUBLIC, AND THEN THAT YEAR, THE SHOSHONE NATIONAL FOREST TOOK OVER MANAGEMENT OF THE KIRWIN AREA. WE RECOGNIZE THAT ALL THESE BUILDINGS AND THIS AREA WAS AN IMPORTANT HISTORIC AREA. ACTUALLY, IT’S ONE OF THE PREMIER HISTORIC AREAS IN WYOMING. TOGETHER WITH THE STATE HISTORIC PERSEVERATION OFFICE AND THE SHOSHONE NATIONAL FOREST, WE WORKED OUT A PARTNERSHIP WHERE WE COULD WORK TO PRESERVE THESE BUILDINGS KIND OF IN THEIR CURRENT STATE. SOME OF THE BUILDINGS HAD LEAKING ROOFS, AND SOME HAD LOST THEIR ROOFS. ONCE YOU LOSE THE ROOF, YOU LOSE THE BUILDING, SO WE BEGAN A PROCESS OF BRINGING VOLUNTEERS UP HERE FOR A WEEK EVERY YEAR AND STABILIZING THESE BUILDINGS, PUTTING NEW ROOFS ON, PATCHING ROOFS, FIXING WALLS. WE WEREN’T RESTORING THE BUILDINGS TO THEIR ORIGINAL STATE. WE WERE SIMPLY STABILIZING THEM IN THEIR CURRENT STATE, KIND OF LIKE MOTHBALLING THEM. WE HAD OUR FIRST WORK PROJECT IN 1991. AT THAT TIME, MOST OF OUR VOLUNTEERS CAME FROM THE SURROUNDING AREA, MEETEETSE, CODY, AND WYOMING IN GENERAL. AS THE YEARS WENT BY, THE WORD GOT OUT ALL OVER THE COUNTRY BASICALLY. WE BEGAN HAVING VOLUNTEERS FROM AS FAR AWAY AS WISCONSIN, GEORGIA, TEXAS, WASHINGTON, COLORADO, AND MONTANA. A TYPICAL VOLUNTEER CREW WAS FROM 20 TO 30 PEOPLE. THESE VOLUNTEERS CAME UP TO KIRWIN, BROUGHT THEIR OWN TENTS OR CAMPERS, THEIR OWN FOOD, AND THEIR OWN TOOLS, AND WORKED HARD FOR A WHOLE WEEK AT A TIME, AND WE DID THIS FROM 1999 UP TO ABOUT 2005. WE ENDED UP RESTORING OR BASICALLY STABILIZING 22 BUILDINGS. THESE RANGED FROM MINE SHAFT HOUSES TO OLD CABINS TO LIVERY STABLES, TO THE ASSAY OFFICE, TO BARNS, MEAT STORAGE SHEDS, AND EVEN 3 OUTHOUSES, BUT THIS IS ALLOWING US TO SAVE THIS HISTORIC SITE, WHICH WE CALL A WINDOW TO THE PAST, AND ALLOW PEOPLE TO COME UP AND SEE WHAT A TOWN LOOKED LIKE BACK IN THE 1880s DURING THE HISTORIC GOLD RUSH ERA.>>THE STORY OF KIRWIN IS A TALE OF ADVENTURERS, RISK TAKERS, AND DREAMERS, A FOCAL POINT FOR INTERSECTING STORIES OF THE FAMOUS AND INFAMOUS, THE EVERYMAN AND THE ARTIST. AND FOR ALL THOSE WHO FIRST FLED IN THE AREA IN DESPAIR, IT LATER DREW OTHERS BACK TO ITS MYRIAD CHARMS, ITS PRISTINE BEAUTY, AS IT STILL DOES TODAY. IN AUGUST EVERY YEAR, THE MEETEETSE MUSEUM SPONSORS A TRIP TO KIRWIN FOR MODERN-DAY ADVENTURERS. THERE THEY CAN SAMPLE THE HISTORY AND EXPLORE THE GHOSTLY STRUCTURES AND ABANDONED MINES. THEY CAN SOAK IN THE SCENERY AND THE WILDNESS THAT SURROUNDS KIRWIN AND COME TO UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THE HISTORY AND THE REMAINS OF OVER A CENTURY OF RISKY BUSINESS.

100 thoughts on “Risky Business: The Ghost Town of Kirwin – Main Street, Wyoming

  1. Too bad alot of these old town and properties,which were public land, were auctioned off in 2006 by the bush administration to oil and gas companies that just bull dozed them and dumped toxic drilling fluid out into the environment using the "halliburton loophole". Who knows what this current administration is going to do.

  2. You completely forgot about the story about the people who used to survived off this land hundreds of years.they were removed forcibly. to have it destroyed by white man. now you have to have permission slip to hunt to walk on the same land that was free.

  3. A truly wonderful tribute and amazing look at bygone days that should never be forgotten! What a life lived by those pioneers . . .

  4. Dreamers, visionaries, artists "Risky Business" Karl a western-military horse rustle Eeeyha! Family man. Explorer. Love it. Great vid. What a life. ๐Ÿ˜†

  5. Amelia Earhart & Fred Nunin, left from oakland ca, end of, howland island 1937 itaska ship 1930 hours, 1 k ft, khaqq, 2130 hrs lost, july 18 done sea recuse

  6. I would like to get that water driven pump for electricity working again. What a great documentary on American history and no politics involved, just people living life.

  7. Terrific historical account of times past. Give credit to all those who had the interest and wherewithal to bring this film into the light. I enjoyed all of it.

  8. Agree with wkh51's comment. Been associated with WY since 1961 adventure at Teton Valley Ranch Camp in Kelly, WY which experienced all sorts of natural disaster and bold history of Jim Bridger. The "native" men and women are adventurers and risk takers beyond description. Thank you Wyoming PBS.

  9. Enjoyed watching and learning. Give me some America West history. I have a picture of my grandparents waiting for cattle to pass on a Wyoming highway from the early 70s during one of their cross country trips from their home in Wilmington, Delaware. Their travels helped to continue my love of culture and history, culminating in a M.A. in history.

  10. Good observation on the swastika, Trevor. Hugh McElroy, you're right about the swastika being an old symbol, used by native Americans. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/history-of-the-swastika has more information and states the swastika symbolized well-being in ancient societies, including those in India, China, Africa, native America, and Europe.

  11. What bullshit….. they just happen to find two orphaned polar bears….. yeah right, which American Asshole orphaned them????

  12. Excellent documentary and will help secure history of this area a while longer. Hard working Americans who came before us sure lived a tough, rugged existence.

  13. I had to comment about the "orphaned" bear cubs. Orphaned? It first showed the mother will the cubs. Then they were orphaned? Hmmm.

  14. Stories of thieves who polluted plunder, murdered stole what never belong to them and theirs and therefore lost it. Every abandon place has an untold truth. Indians, Mexican, hmmm Mexican Indian..If your not an Aboriginal aka Indian then you are the true immigrant, like it or not.

  15. This is a marvelous video, Thanks so much. Wyoming is so beautiful. The history is rich, and the information about Amelia was amazing. I remember those Dude ranches that everyone wanted to go to.Also remember the furniture, it was made to last. I'd like to live there in that area. Beautiful country!

  16. The right soundtrack for this or any old mining town, ghost or not, is a piece by a band that formed out of The Grateful Dead called "The New Riders of the Purple Sage." The song, "Dirty Business." Not to be missed is the incredible steel guitar contribution by Jerry Garcia.

  17. crap, a great story of courage and entrepreneurship ends with socialism, and "preservation" of some buildings that serve no purpose.

  18. What a beautiful and richly detailed piece, so well put together. Iโ€™ll be revisiting this, again and again. And again ~ Many thanks for the upload!

  19. I am so glad for this video. It's nice to see my Wyoming beauty again. Loved the Earhart part and the restoration efforts. Thank you.

  20. Ha, always crooks, slavery, greed, dirty politics, murder, drunks, whores, and the rest.you always made money with supplies and wheelbarrows.

  21. What a joke this is. Alot of old times, with talk, talk, talk, and some 100 year old blurred out pictures. I guess that is the best PBS can come up with.

  22. Reminds me if the dying small towns I've learned about where some are even paying people to move to them, including a beautiful one in Italy.

  23. Just today I discovered your channel on YouTube. I subscribed. I love PBS programs. I began watching OPB as a native Portland Oregonian. The first video on your channel was about the Historical events of Kirwin, Wyoming. It was a double learning experience for me, regarding Kirwin and Amelia Earhart! I want to thank everyone involved in creating this heart warming video! In May of 1995 I drove from LaGrande, Oregon to Texas. We traveled through the southern region of Wyoming, fascinated by the Rolling waves, it's beauty and the remote feelings I was left with. I'll never forget the off roadside market we stopped at. The sun was setting, and bats were flying about just above us. That experience embedded an ever lasting pleasurable memory in my heart and soul. So did this video.

  24. it's ironic that she is best remembered, for not making the trip successfully, rather than the ones she did compleet

  25. that's what native americans were trying to tell you, people come and go, only the land remains, so don't screw it up, or you lose it

  26. 33:35, a big swastika on the couch's arm. It was a native symbol too. Of course, this is well before the Nazi's perverted it.

  27. oops,I clicked on a PMS video..they do manage to mask their hatred of fly-over-state white people of Wyoming when nature is involved,sometimes.

  28. I was just through Mateesee last month if I would have known this was here would have loved to drive to it but not sure if the rental would have made it. Glad I watched this video just randomly popped up.

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