On Wild Cow’s Bank
A few weeks back, as I was writing the obituary for Chuck Sanger and the “Postcard” recalling the cattle drives we did as kids, memories flashed back to a column I did years ago concerning the Muddy country. Hope you enjoy it again.
For pure enjoyment only – well, maybe the story imparts some historic flavor – is another of the writings of Geo. R. Caldwell in his book “Winchester Williams” published in October of 1897 and reprinted by the Saratoga Historical and Cultural Association in July of 1989.
Caldwell was the editor and publisher of Saratoga’s first newspaper, called the Platte Valley Lyre. A personal column in his weekly paper was called “Strings from a Wyoming Lyre.” Here’s another of his tales written in about 1890.
One of the most considerable of the minor water courses of southern Wyoming is the Muddy, a stream traversing the semi-mountainous and fine grazing section lying immediately west of the great Savery region and entering the (Little) Snake River near the town of Baggs.
One of the chief tributaries of the Muddy is the Wild Cow, noted for the purity of its dancing waters, as well as the peculiar reminiscence which has added its somewhat bizarre appellation to the nomenclature of Wyoming streams. In days now past – those early Wyoming days flushed with the glory and profit of the ranch industry – more than one herd of wild Texas cattle multiplied and grew fat upon the richly grassed and then uncircumscribed ranges of the Muddy.
The waters of the Muddy and its tributaries are all mountain-born, and in the deepest and most remote recesses surrounding the mountain sources of one of these tributaries a Texas cow, barren and the wildest of the wild, made her hidden home; and hence, the stream so honored received the range baptism; the Wild Cow, and is known unto this day.
This cow was fleet and cunning as she was wild and systematically baffled all efforts of the bold and skillful range riders to dislodge her from her mountain fastness. Was she, perchance, surprised in a comparatively open spot, she invariably won the race to the nearest covert of thick brush or gained a mountain side inaccessible to horse and rider.
Was she known to be hidden in some particular locality carefully surrounded and indefatigably searched, her cunning failed her not. She could not be found.
As time passed and the cow still held the fort, the cowboys were placed on their mettle, a condition by the way, they always enjoyed, and the chase after Old Bluesides became a yearly recurring incident of the Muddy roundup.
But, it was always a chase – nothing more. The cow was, to all intents and purposes, a wild animal, and the attempt to dislodge her was gradually but finally abandoned, and Old Bluesides, if she has not died of old age or natural bovine depravity, still enjoys a savage freedom amid the recesses of mountain and forest which curtain the sources of the Wild Cow.