Sulphur Springs Station
By Dick Perue
Last week’s “Postcard” concerning the “wild cow” didn’t receive much attention, but the picture of the “larder” at Sulphur Springs homestead drew several comments and a couple of requests for copies of the photo, which prompted me to find another picture of the ranch and the winter supply of wild game being processed.
Also, some folks wanted to know the history of the ranch. The best description I found was a story written by one of Wyoming’s best historians and writers, the late Gay Day Alcorn, in her book “Tough Country” published in 1984. She wrote:
Sulphur Springs Station took its name from the strong sulphur smell of the nearby springs. The buildings at this site were mainly built of sandstone with sod roofs, and the old station was built of log and had a shingled roof.
From time to time, the military was located at the site, and it has often been called Fort Sulphur Springs by old timers. It is difficult to know all the military activities which took place at this location. During the summer of 1865, Companies A, B, E, F, L and M of the 11th Kansas Cavalry were stationed all along the route to help keep hostilities down and the road open.
These soldiers dug rifle pits on both sides of the bluff overlooking Muddy Creek as well as a tunnel from the pits down to the spring. Numerous military items such as swords and pistols were found around the site in later years.
The graves in the little cemetery are still distinguished with their original markers. Two deaths occurred from natural causes, five others as the result of an Indian foray and one grave was dug because of a drunken row in the bunk house which later became the saloon.
Robert Spotswood told of the time in June 1865 when he had gone 45 miles off his own division to Jim Stewart’s division to assist Stewart. Spotswood arrived at Sulphur Springs on the evening of June 15 with four mules belonging to Ben Holladay, two more belonging to the government and a valuable saddle horse, also belonging to the stage line. A wagon ambulance belonging to the government was along, as were a guard of 15 Indians who were escorting them from Fort Halleck to Sulphur Springs.
A quarter of a mile back of the station, the stock was turned out in what was called the “meadow.” A guard of four or five men were around the building and the horses of the guards and Indian escorts were picketed around the station.
Spotswood and Stewart were in the house, and it was about sunrise when they heard war whoops. The two division agents were the first out of the house. Immediately, the two men saw 75 to 100 Indians come over the meadow.
The Indians were running the stock over the sagebrush headed for the mountains. Captain Brown, who was in charge of the soldiers, ordered the men after the Indians. Spotswood and Stewart went along. They chased after the Indians for approximately six miles.
The group went no farther as they realized they could be overpowered. Stewart lost about 45 head of stock belonging to Ben Holladay, and Spotswood lost six mules and his horse. The horse was valued at $225, and the six mules at $200 each.
By 1868, the Frontier Index noted little villages were sprouting everywhere and one was developing at Sulphur Springs. A few days later, the Index reported the killing and scalping of two white men near the location.
The Sulphur Springs Station went on to be an important stop on the freighting road from Rawlins to the White River Indian Agency at Meeker, Colo. Today (1984) the historic old station is part of the Sanger Ranches, Inc.
And in the present day of 2022, the ranch is still being operated by a member of the Sanger family.