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Elva Evans was hooked on history

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Author’s note: Originally this week’s “Postcard” was to feature more on Cowboy Poet Chuck Larsen, who recently passed away. However, the death of another dear friend, writer and historian Elva Evans, now requires my attention. 

I will write more on Chuck and Elva in the future – God willing and I don’t join them for gabfests in the great beyond.

This is my personal account of Elva (Olson) Evans and her accomplishments over the past 80 years of our acquaintance and friendship since riding the school bus together as kids.

Elva Evans’ interest in history was sparked at her parents’ ranch table where ranch hands and visitors told their stories. That spark has caught fire in her latest effort, a pictorial history book entitled, “Saratoga 150 Years,” which was released in 2020.

After a lifetime of reading, writing and gathering research materials, 23 years of compiling “Reflections from Our Files” for the Saratoga Sun, plus historical preservation through founding and supporting the Saratoga Museum – serving as first museum director and initial president of the Saratoga Historical and Cultural Association – she decided to write a personal recollection of the history of Saratoga and the Upper North Platte River Valley. 

Elva has always believed local history should be gathered, preserved and shared right up to the present. Beyond her obsessive collecting, local historians contend that Elva’s most significant contribution to historical preservation, up to the present, was compiling and editing two volumes of pictorial history entitled “Early History of Saratoga and Vicinity” in 1976 and 1977.

“Saratoga 150 Years” is an easy read. Elva’s flowing style takes the reader on a journey from the days of the Indian Bath Tubs at Warm Springs, later Saratoga, to today’s events at the Platte Valley Community Center. It is history personalized, fun to read and believable with a few clever twists and quips throughout.

Enhancing the history of her book are 80 historical photographs provided by Dick Perue from the Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection as well as 20 more illustrations and photos from various sources. 

Elva and I spent hours around the kitchen table sorting through more than 300 photos from my collection to select 80 which appear in the book. 

Elva Olson was born on the 4 Bar Ranch west of Saratoga on March 18, 1934, educated in Saratoga schools, a graduate of University of Wyoming, taught school one year, married to Valle Evans in 1955 and mother of four children – Julie, Kathleen, Kelly and John. She has lived on ranches and in town in this area during her long, joyful life, contributing to preserving its rich heritage and history as well as being a friend, good neighbor and homemaker, plus business and civic leader.

For the past 50 years, if anyone wanted to know the history of the Upper North Platte River Valley, they contacted Elva Evans, Gay Day Alcorn or Dick Perue. Usually, all three would work together to answer questions and share history of the Saratoga, Encampment, Riverside, Ryan Park, Walcott and surrounding areas. 

With the passing of Elva last week and Gay dying over a year ago, Dick is the last of the trio of history buffs. All three have worked tirelessly to preserve the local history one story or photo at a time; as well as helped establish, maintain and promote the Saratoga Museum, which houses the irreplaceable collections of all three.

For complete details of Elva’s life see her obituary in this week’s Wyoming Livestock Roundup, local newspapers and on the internet.

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