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Party of Nine Near Death From Exposure in Raging Blizzard

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Thus proclaims a headline in the Jan. 25, 1917 issue of The Saratoga Sun. Excerpts from the news item goes as follows.

After fighting blindly for more than 24 hours in the face of the wildest storm which has raged for years on the lonely stretch of prairie between Saratoga and Walcott, on the Union Pacific, 150 miles west of Cheyenne, a party of nine people, among whom was a woman and a 12-year-old boy, all famished and more dead than alive, staggered into the little hotel at Walcott Sunday at noon.

In the party were Mrs. Dana Crawford, wife of the former editor of The Saratoga Sun and their 12-year-old boy; D. S. Richmond, livery and stockman of Saratoga; E. A. Ryder, a traveling man of Denver; two other men from Encampment and three other traveling men whose identity could not be learned.

According to Ryder’s story, the party had been marooned in Saratoga, following a blockade of the Saratoga and Encampment Railroad. In an effort to catch the eastbound train on the main line of the Union Pacific, the party secured the services of D. S. Richmond and a man thoroughly familiar with every foot of the county lying between Saratoga and Walcott.

“We had not been out more than an hour on Saturday when it became nearly impossible to see 40 yards ahead. Feeling our way and getting off the sled every few minutes to reconnoiter, we crept along until well past the middle of the afternoon. The four horses were pretty badly fatigued after struggling through the snow, which lay three feet deep on the level. By nightfall we had lost all sense of distance and were forced to admit we were lost,” Ryder recalls.

“Spreading such blankets as we had over the wagon box in which we were packed, we settled down to spend the night. There was not a whimper from Mrs. Crawford or the boy. At times, one of us would venture a little distance into the blinding fury of the storm, which raged almost unabated, in a vain endeavor to find some sign allowing us to go on. We ate only a small box of crackers, which I carried in my sample case,” he continues.

“Richmond left us in the morning, and after a three-mile tramp, located an abandoned sheep camp. We made such haste as we could, tearing the boards and rails from the corrals, huddled around the fire to plan what to do next,” says Ryder.

He concludes, “Knowing we would perish before another day spent in such exposure, we struck north as nearly as we could judge, and after five miles driving topped the rise of ground which overlooks the station of Walcott. Just 25 hours had elapsed when we drove into the station Sunday from the time we left Saratoga.” – Wyoming Tribune

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