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A headline in the Feb. 27, 1913 local newspaper proclaimed, Big Jack Rabbit Hunt.” Following are several excerpts from that story”

About 17 men went out on Jack creek on Sunday morning to rid the ranches in that area of Jack Rabbits, which were eating up considerable feed from the stock.

The men all lined up at Jack Creek Lane and started up the creek in a long line spread out taking in the valley, and they hadn’t gone far before the Jacks began to run. Well, run they did, in every direction of the compass. And the cannonading started with a roar that lasted until they came into camp around noon just below the Blydenburgh ranch.

After dinner some shooters started part way up the creek and the rest took a back track. When the final round up was made 108 Jacks were piled up that would never bother the ranchers again.

There were any number of rabbits that got away before anyone could get in gun range, and a great many that were smoked up that left for parts unknown when they felt the tingle of shot in their fur.

This is part two of a series portraying ranch life in the 1880s, as seen through the writings of Bud Cowan in his book “Range Rider.” In the last “Postcard,” we left our readers as two young men were about to make a power saw out of an “old Buck Eye mowing machine.” 

Here’s the rest of the story…

We pulled the old machine up to the woodpile and dug a hole deep enough in the ground to bury one wheel as far as the pitman wheel, to which the sickle is ordinarily attached. We put an extension on the end of the pitman rod and fastened our big cross-cut saw to it, in place of the sickle which really belonged there, and then we built housing for the rod. Next we made a sweep; that is, made a pole and fastened it to the top of the other wheel remaining out of the ground. We put a singletree on the end of this pole and hitched up a little white mule we had. We put a lead bar in front of the mule and fastened his tie rope to it. This we did in order to keep him from walking off straight. By being tied to the lead bar, he walked around in a circle and pulled the sweep attached to the wheel that turned the pitman rod with the crosscut saw attached to it. Did it work? I’ll say it did!

It took quite a little while to make the mule understand just what we wanted of him, but when he once got the idea he had as much fun out of it as we did. We would saw until noon, then unhitch our mule and feed him grain and hay. Then I would take the saw out and file it while Jimmie fixed dinner. After that we would oil our mowing machine, put the saw back in again, hitch up the mule, and go to work.

Father said when he left for Denver, “You boys have wood enough to keep you busy until I get home.”

Well, we fooled him, because we had every stick cut and split when he came home about Christmas time. He was surprised to find the wood all cut, split and piled in the woodshed. When he asked us how we did it we kidded him quite a little while, because we had replaced the mowing machine as soon as we had finished with it and covered up all signs as to what we had done. Finally we did tell him.

The boys who were doing the feeding around our ranch laughed at us and said it couldn’t be done, but we did it just the same, and after that nearly everyone in our neighborhood did their wood-sawing with an arrangement like the one we had. Inside of three days we had sawed wood that would ordinarily have taken three weeks of hard work.

“One of the most destructive fires that ever visited this section took place Tuesday morning at Riverside. The large Riverside Hotel, one of the best hotels of its size in the West, was completely destroyed. The fire started from a chimney in the laundry room at five o’clock in the morning, and despite the efforts of the bucket brigade, it soon gained such headway that the building was doomed to total destruction.

“The hotel was erected about five years ago, by Chicago capitalists at a cost of $10,000, and was owned by them up to about July of this year, when it was purchased by S.L. Parr. The building was totally destroyed, and as far as could be learned from the local insurance agent, was not insured. The furniture was not insured and was a loss except for some few pieces, which were saved by hard and persistent work on the part of the citizens. 

“By the same efficient help of the fire department from Encampment, and those present, attention was given to saving the buildings adjoining and across the street. Too much credit cannot be given to those assisting, without any waterworks with which to help. The only buildings destroyed, aside from the hotel were the small buildings immediately adjoining and belonging to the same. Fortunately there was no wind blowing, which no doubt saved the whole town from destruction.

“Mr. Parr and family have the sympathy of the community, as nearly everything they owned was lost even to their personal effects. Some of the boarders had narrow escapes with their lives, and many lost their clothes and other effects in their mad rush to get out of the building. The fire gained such headway that they were unable to go back. This loss is a severe one to Riverside, as it is practically the only hotel at that place. It is understand that M. M. Green of Chicago, president of the New Rambler mine, held a mortgage on the property, but this could not be confirmed.”

The above is a reprint of this story from the Dec. 4, 1908 issue of the Grand Encampment Herald brought to you courtesy of Grandma’s Cabin, Encampment. Preserving History - Serving the Community. 

Two articles in a recent edition of the local newspaper show that some things never seem to change. First was an item announcing a study to learn why the deer herd is presently so low in this area. Further back in the Reflections was the following editorial from December 1912. Sounds familiar.

“After many years of strife to preserve the big game in this state, we are slowly drifting toward the utter extinction of the same. It may be well to drag the preservation out as far as possible, to prolong the hunting. But what is the use of all the talk about closing the season on this or that or feeding the elk?

“We have long been a supporter of the protection to game, but we have now reached a point where we have drawn new conclusions. Civilization and cultivation, and reclamation of the agricultural lands of the West are getting the game. The hunter might just as well have his share so long as he does not play the hog, as long as the game lasts.

“The range is going rapidly for all game, and there is little left for them but the interior of the roughest mountains. The settler encroaches upon the big game and drives him back farther and farther every year, until now the only game that is left is away back and has no winter range. The winters are killing more game from lack of range than all the hunters put together.

“The ranchman and farmer have come to stay, give them the fruits of their labors in the country they choose. It is only a little time until the big game is gone. It is useless to put closed season on them. They are killed anyway, and their extinction from hunters, ranchers and breakers of the law is only a matter of time, no matter what the law, or money spent to prevent it finds.”

Since my arrival in this valley in 1938, our family has noted many up and downs of the game herds, usually on about a 10-year cycle. I’ll bet the new expensive study will find the same.

This year’s idea for Christmas giving is an oldie, but goodie – Veterans’ Hospital in Cheyenne. For over a half-century, members of the American Legion Auxiliary have gathered gifts to send to the VA. Following is a story published in 1975, which prompted several local folks to donate gifts to our veterans.
    It is our hope that it will continue to inspire gift giving for our veterans and their families and friends. If interested, please contact your local American Legion Auxiliary. It makes a Merry Christmas for all of us.
    The 1975 Christmas time feature story in the Rawlins Daily Times stated:
A doll’s second life
By Grace Healey
    “No, not a picture! People will think it is so silly – an old woman playing with dolls.” The dolls that Mrs. Paul Pearson of Saratoga has mentioned are going to the Veterans’ Hospital in Cheyenne among other gifts either made or given by the American Legion Auxiliary of the state. Each veteran may choose one Christmas gift for each member of his family. If the gift needs mailing, that also is taken care of for him.
    For many years Margaret has dressed dolls. They are donated by girls or families who have outgrown them. They may be well worn, but not broken. The dolls get a bath, a new paint job when needed, and often, new hair from an old wig.
    Then Margaret makes each one six changes of clothing. The teenage dolls will have a wardrobe of slinky, glittering skirts and mod pant suits; the baby dolls will wear knit sweaters and crocheted bonnets, made by Mrs. Lucille Brodin.
    Mrs. Nester Miller and “the girls at the bank” donated this year’s dolls. As the women surveyed the rejuvenated dolls, their eyes grew pensive with memories of Christmas past and little girls grown up. One doll came from a garbage pail in Denver.
    “Maybe we could do something with it,” the finder said to his wife, who was a long- time friend of Margaret’s.
    “I know exactly what to do with it,” she answered. Even the dolls wondered about the mystery of the one in the garbage. Every doll will go to its new home full of sage advice and interesting conversation from its days with Margaret.