Crazy Woman Creek – The Story of a Heartbroken Woman

Twelve miles from Buffalo, Wyoming, you can step back in time and feel the presence of a woman gone mad.  Wyoming has never been an easy place to live – you have to really want to be here, but at the beginning – when this wonderful chunk of real estate was not yet a territory – things were much more difficult. 

There are a number of stories as to how the name Crazy Woman Creek, Crazy Woman Canyon, and Crazy Woman Battlefield, came to be – the name alone conjures up visions of horror

One of the most valid stories seems to be that during the era when whites traded Indians for their furs, a misunderstanding led to some Indians scalping a white man right in front of his bride (also white). Her blood-curdling cry was so horrifying that the Indians were afraid of harming her.

She, no doubt, had the same dream most of us have – a future- with her husband, children, a warm, loving home, only to have it shattered right in front of her eyes.  In a split-second, all of that was taken from her.

She wandered the hills alone the rest of her life, never finding her sanity again.  Often she was sighted and fed by various mountain men, only to disappear once more.  One kindly gentleman built her a cabin and she was eventually found dead there, apparently of starvation, years later. 

If you listen carefully, while winding your way through that hauntingly beautiful canyon, you may hear the maniacal cry of a distraught, heart-broken woman.  The wind gently whispers its sad secrets as the creek ripples through the canyon, leaving history in its droplets. Such tragedy in the shadow of the beautiful Big Horn Mountains is beyond sad.

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Our Beautiful Grey’s River

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We went road-tripping’ into the  Greys River area this past Sunday.  It is such a beautiful forest.   Lot’s of nice camping spots for tents and RVs alike.  It’s known as the river with a road beside it.

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At Alpine, a nearby town, there is a huge, beautiful lake known as the Palisades, where the convergence of Salt River, Snake river, and Grey’s flow into it.   The gorgeous Snake River Canyon goes up to Jackson Hole on the east, and northwest the highway will take you to Idaho.

John Grey, AKA, Ignace Hatchiorauguasha, a very well educated half- Iroquois, was responsible for breaking Britain’s hold on the fur trade which led to the acquisition of the Oregon Territory for America.  The river was named after him.

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The Greys River is about 62 miles long and starts high up in the Wyoming Range, 45 miles south of Alpine.  It is a beautiful, rushing stream that separates the Wyoming Range from the Salt River Range on the west.  If you ever have the opportunity to camp along that river you will love it.

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It is considered one of the best playgrounds in the area, offering superb trout fishing, canoeing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, and of course, abundant deer and elk for the hunters.

 

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This post shows just a few of the abundant wildflowers in the mountain valley.  What could be better than being surrounded by mountains, some about 11,000 feet, a wonderful mountain stream, and the serenity that only that scenario can provide?

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However – if I were camping in a tent, I might choose to sleep in my car, lest an unfriendly bear pays me a visit!

 

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Devils Tower, Our First National Monument

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The tower rises majestically some 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River in Northwest Wyoming and is 867 feet from base to summit, with a base circumference of one mile. It is a spectacular sight, rugged, picturesque,  and often used for weddings,  filming, and commercial photography (permits required).

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is the movie that made the tower famous in 1977.  It’s more than a movie to the Indians – to them it is sacred and they ask that people voluntarily refrain from climbing it during the month of June in order to show respect for the culture of the American Indians since June is a month when many of their ceremonies traditionally occur.

Mis-translation of a word back in 1800 gives it the name, “Bad God’s Tower” which morphed into “Devils Tower,”  the apostrophe being lost due to a clerical error.  Various tribes had many different names for it: Bear Rock, Tree Rock, He Hota Paha, Grizzly Bear Lodge, to name a few.

How it was created gives way to many legends. The Kiowa say that there were seven sisters who ran into a giant bear.  They ran away and jumped on a small stump that quickly grew into the enormous stump we see today in order for the girls to escape.  The girls were whisked up into the sky and became the stars that form our Big Dipper.

Cheyenne legend states that while some of them were traveling to worship the Great Spirit, one of their wives became enamored with a mate-less bear, the men chased the giant bear, it chased them up a huge tree, they killed the bear, the woman turned into a bear and made the huge rock her home.  It became known at the Bear’s Tipi.

My favorite is the story of two young Indian boys who, as young boys will do, got lost.  They walked for days trying to find their way home, to no avail.   Eventually, coming face to face with Mato, a giant bear who shook the very earth with every step he took, they knew they were doomed.  In their struggles to get away, they fell and the earth rose with them on it.  Up, up, up it went to the height the tower is today.  The bear could almost touch the top, but not quite. It clawed viciously all the way around the towering chunk of earth but finally left in frustration.   Wanblee, a great eagle, extended his enormous talons for the boys to grab hold of and he delivered them back to their village, thus giving the boys quite a story to tell their grandchildren.

Geologist tells us that molten rock was forced up between other rock formations, some say it is the tip of an extinct volcano. Others feel the tower was formed underground, uplifted, and erosion formed what we see today.  More recently I’ve heard that it is a petrified tree going back to the time of giants.

Now, I’ll tell you what – I would hate to meet up with a bear the size of which was as tall as the Tower, and I shudder to contemplate the size the people would have been to match their surroundings.  Think how hard it would be to buy clothing!

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The Oregon/California Trail Center

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We went to Montpelier, Idaho yesterday and visited The National Oregon/California Trail Center there.  It has so much to offer!   You can step back in time and visit a gun shop and mercantile, or ride in a covered wagon simulating the rock-n-roll of an actual journey, except it’s done inside in comfort.

It’s hard to  imagine the “luxury” of riding in a wagon across this wonderful chunk of real estate, changing off to walking because it was hard to determine which was the least miserable, stopping at night in the middle of somewhere, taking care of the animals, laundry, fixing meals, tending children, maybe being pregnant, ill, or any number of difficulties that had to be dealt with on the journey.

I applaud our ancestors who braved those trips, giving up all they had, not knowing what lay ahead.  It was a daunting endeavor and many lost their lives doing it, but it was part of settling this country.  We owe them so much!

There is a gift shop, rail exhibit, art gallery,  and murals to enjoy.  Restaurants and motels are nearby.  It’s time well spent.  www.oregontrailcenter.org

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Vernal Equinox or Hello Spring!

This is why 9/12 pitch and 100# snow load is required here. We’re happy to say goodbye to winter!  Our driveway is now almost clear and most of the yard has a foot or less of snow left.    We haven’t had it nearly as bad as some parts of the country, though.  We moved in here April 21, 2007, and it snowed the day before, so we really can’t count on winter being over – I have seen it snow in Wyoming the middle of June!  Seriously.

Local meteorologists say that we received 200 inches of snow this winter, 160 is usual,  however, history shows that we received around 300″ in 2007/2008.

The deer have been hungry the past few months and have feasted on my bushes frequently, especially the Blue Willows.  I hope they survive, but if they don’t that’s okay.  We’re not allowed to feed them, so if my bushes are collateral damage that’s fine.

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The Autumnal Equinox

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The Autumnal Equinox

 

Growing up in Missouri in the fifties we didn’t hear the words Autumnal Equinox much but we were familiar with the fall activities.  Crops were harvested and garden produce canned.  We didn’t have freezers yet, but many vegetables were stored in cellars- right along with a snake or two.  My parents had large gardens as well as apple and peach orchards.  Most of that was sold at our farm as well as designated areas in town for Farmers Markets.

I didn’t experience much of the crop harvests such as wheat, corn, or oats, but Bob did, so I asked him to share his memories with me. A funny one was when he was about 4-5 years old and he wanted to go with his dad when he took the horses out to shuck corn. His dad told him if he went he couldn’t come back until the work was done – and he meant it.  It was quite cold for a little boy and upon returning home he looked at his parents and declared, “You should not have let me went!”

“In the late forties and early fifties most small grain crops were harvested by combines, however a few die-hards still used the grain binder and threshing machine.  I drove the John Deere B pulling a grain binder and Dad sat on the binder keeping watch over its operation.  After binding the yet-to-be-cured grain it was shocked until it had ripened. Then came the excitement of Threshing Day!

“Farmers that we had bound grain for arrived at our farm with their tractors and hay racks to haul the shocks to the threshing machine which had been set in place the day before.  Early that day the Rumley Oil Pull was fired up and the threshing machine came alive with bundles being pitched into the feed platform.  The straw/chaff was separated from the grain and blown out the opposite end of the machine.  When one farm was completed, it was on to the next neighbor’s farm.

“There are still some threshing machines and a binder or two in this valley rusting away,” Bob states.  “They bring back fond memories.”

By the time Bob was in high school they had purchased a ’49 Dodge two-ton truck.  He was suddenly in the trucking business hauling hay, grain, tractors – whatever needed to be hauled.  There was a certain girl that would sometimes ride in that truck when he took wheat into town.  We arrived at the elevators in Walker, Missouri late one day. The men were preparing to close and really didn’t want to unload him, but one of the guys  said, “Look what he’s got with him.  Maybe we’d better.”  They did and we went on our merry way.

 

Bob states that he wouldn’t trade those years on the farm for anything! It established his work ethic for life and he still works as hard as any man I know.  It was a time of rejoicing and being thankful for all they had prepared for the cold winter months ahead.

September 22  is that day when the days and nights are approximately the same length and it happens all over the world at the same time although our clocks will say different things.  It marks the end of the growing cycle (which the Spring Equinox kicks off) and gives us the fall season in all its autumnal splendor for us to enjoy as the birds and butterflies start their migration southward.

Our inward harvest should be rich as well with gratitude for all that we have been given.

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