Current Edition

current edition

Physical features of Wyoming are described in detail in the rare book, “Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society” by Robert C. Morris.

In Volume I of the illustrated publication, the state’s terrain is portrayed as thus:

The physical features of Wyoming may be described as mountainous with valleys, bold bluffs, foothills and broad, rolling plains. The mountains have a general direction from the northwest to the southeast and often present the appearance of numerous rivers, including the Missouri, Columbia and Colorado, have their headwaters within the state of Wyoming. Among the largest rivers are the North Platte, which flows for a distance of several hundred miles through central and southeastern Wyoming, the Green River in the southwest, the Snake and Yellowstone in the northwest and the Big Horn and Powder Rivers in the northeast.

Wyoming abounds in grand and beautiful scenery, great natural parks encircled by lofty and majestic mountains, whose forests and meadows teem with game and its waters with fish.

The Yellowstone National Park, set apart by act of Congress as a public pleasure ground, has an area of 3,575 square miles, with an altitude from 6,000 to 12,000 feet above the sea level. This park lies mainly in Wyoming but includes a small part of Montana. The wonderful geysers and thermal springs of this region outnumber those of all the rest of the world together. The former are estimated at about 50, whose waters spout up for a height of from 50 to 200 feet, while of the hot springs. Impregnated chiefly with lime and silica, there are many thousands. Over 10,000 tourists annually visit the park.

There are numerous hot springs in Wyoming reputed to possess rare medicinal virtues, especially those in Fremont, Big Horn and Carbon counties. Baths in these springs, which contain chloride of sodium, sulfur, iron, magnesia and other ingredients in strong solution, are remarkably invigorating and efficacious in the cure of rheumatism and kindred chronic troubles. There are no navigable rivers in Wyoming, and the lack of these natural transportation facilities make it necessary to depend on the development of railway systems. The rivers and their tributaries, however, must always play an important part in the growth of internal commerce, as they afford a natural grade for the approach of railways into the mountains, and the means for watering the country.

The book continues, “Of the total area of Wyoming, 62,645,120 acres, 10,000,000 are capable of being successfully cultivated by . . .” but, then, that’s a thought for our next Wyoming history lesson.

Last week we related information found in a rare book entitled “Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society” by Robert C. Morris. This week we offer our readers more about the creation of the:


Entire sets of works are specially solicited or collections of books on any subject, but single volumes and copies of pamphlets will be gratefully received. The library of the Society, it is hoped, will grow into a library of reference on all subjects, hence books, pamphlets and other publications on all subjects are solicited.

Especially do we desire everything relating to Wyoming.

1. Every book or pamphlet on any subject relating to Wyoming or any part of it; also every book or pamphlet written by a Wyoming citizen, whether published in Wyoming or elsewhere; materials for Wyoming history; old letters, journals and manuscript narratives of the pioneers of Wyoming; original papers on the early history and settlement of the territory; adventures and conflicts during the early settlement, the Indian troubles or the late rebellion; biographies of the pioneers, prominent citizens and public men of every county, either living or deceased, together with their portraits and autographs; a sketch of the settlement of every township, village and neighborhood in the state, with the names of the first settlers. We solicit articles on every subject connected with Wyoming history, including fossils, geological specimens, ores and minerals.

2. City ordinances, proceedings of mayor and council; reports of committees of council; pamphlets or papers of any kind printed by authority of the city; reports of boards of trade; maps of cities and plats of town sites or additions thereto.

3. Pamphlets of all kinds; annual reports of societies; sermons and addresses delivered in the state; minutes of church conventions, synods or other ecclesiastical bodies of Wyoming; political addresses; railroad reports; all such, whether published in pamphlet form or newspapers.

4. Catalogues and reports of colleges and other institutions of learning; annual or other reports of school boards, school superintendents and school committees; educational pamphlets, programmes and papers of every kind, no matter how small or apparently unimportant.

5. Copies of the earlier laws, journals and reports of our territorial and state legislatures; earlier Governors’ messages and reports of state officers; reports of state charitable and other institutions.

6. Files of Wyoming newspapers and magazines, especially complete volumes of past years or single numbers, even. Publishers are earnestly requested to contribute their publications regularly, all of which will be carefully preserved and bound.

Items also wanted by the society are “Maps of . . .” but, then, we have to preserve something for the next “Postcard.”

Dr. D. Frank Powell, better known in Wyoming as “White Beaver,” was a friend and business associate of Buffalo Bill and often accompanied the great showman to various locations in Wyoming. Such was the case when Cody visited the Upper North Platte River Valley in south-central Carbon County in 1903.

An article in the Nov. 13, 1903 issue of “The Grand Encampment Herald” notes:

Pulling for Wyoming

“Where did I start the Wild West?” repeated the Colonel. “At North Platte in 1882, when I got up a frontier celebration. That was my home then, and I helped to build up Nebraska. Being a natural born pioneer, I drifted West, but I am going no farther. I have gotten through pushing but am now pulling for Wyoming. My head press agent used to pick up the English papers and remark, in speaking of my interviews, that, ‘I’ll bet he has wound up with something about Wyoming.’ And I always did. While I am interviewed perhaps more than any other American, I always close with a word about the resources of my home state, Wyoming, which I believe will someday be one of the greatest between the Missouri and the coast.”

Col. Cody came here (Grand Encampment) Saturday afternoon in company with Dr. D. Frank Powell, “White Beaver,” whom Buffalo Bill claims as his foster brother. In company with Supt. Waterbury, the two frontiersmen visited the Copper Giant property on the North Fork and took in the sights about town, leaving Tuesday for Saratoga. On Saturday night, the people of Cody will give their leader a royal welcome home by holding a celebration in the Colonel’s honor. Col. Cody has arranged to be here again with Dr. Powell sometime during the winter. Next year, the Wild West show will resume its tour of England.

Had to show him

Dr. Powell says that he has nothing new to say about the camp, only that he feels more confident than ever in its future. He denies the newspaper report that he died a few weeks ago and says that if any such event took place he has yet to realize the change.

His visit has been pleasant in the extreme, and he adds that he had to bring Col. Cody here just to show him that his northern Wyoming town is not in any respect ahead of the little city, “Situated upon a mesa at the junction of the north and south forks of the Encampment, etc., etc.”

“Preserving local history one picture at a time,” has been my life-long goal. Recently a friend brought me a rare book entitled “Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society,” by Robert C. Morris. The illustrated book was the first volume published in 1897 by the newly founded “Wyoming Historical Society” of Cheyenne.

“Sun-Leader Publishing House” of Cheyenne was listed on the fly page as the printer and publisher.

The book lists the 1897 officers of the Wyoming Historical Society,” as William A. Richards, Cheyenne, president; Robert C. Morris, Cheyenne, secretary; John Slaughter, Cheyenne, librarian; and Joseph M. Carey, Charles W. Burdick, James I. Patten, Frank M. Foote, James H. Hayford, Bryant B. Brooks, along with Richards, Morris and Slaughter as members of the board of trustees.

The first entry in the book is:


The Wyoming Historical Society, Cheyenne, Wyo., March 15, 1897.

Hon. William A. Richards, Governor of Wyoming:

Dear Sir: – I have the honor to submit herewith the first volume of Wyoming Historical Collections, containing contributions from various sources on the Early Settlement of Wyoming, Its Social and Commercial Progress, Mines, Agriculture, Stock Growing, Personal Reminiscences, Memorials of Pioneers, Public Men, Pre-historic Remains, Indians and other subjects of historic value. Among the most valuable donations made to the Society have been the bound files of Cheyenne daily newspapers, covering a period of 30 years; also, numerous books, pamphlets, portraits, photographs, engravings, minerals and other treasures illustrative of the past history of Wyoming. A list of these donations, with the transactions of the Society, will be found hereto appended.

The historical information contained in the first volume of the Society will be found necessarily limited but indicates the general scope of the work contemplated by the Society under the law. A judicious selection and editing of original articles upon the early events of Wyoming was deemed of more historical value than any connected narrative written at this time. We trust, however, that with the co-operation of local societies, composed of settlers and others interested in the subject, material will be forthcoming that will furnish an adequate basis at some future time for a complete history of Wyoming. If the Wyoming Historical Society contributes its full measure to this important task, its object will have been accomplished.

Yours very respectfully,

Robert C. Morris,


Under the heading of “Wyoming Historical Society. Introduction,” the tattered book continues:

The Wyoming Historical Society, established by an act of the Legislature of 1895 for the purpose of securing historical collections relating to the state, is now located in the library at the State House and is a safe depository for valuable books, files of newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, charts, portraits, mineral specimens and articles of value illustrative of the history and progress of our state. Heretofore, Wyoming has been a free-foraging ground for collectors of fossils and pre-historic treasurers for other states and countries. Neither the state nor any of our institutions possesses a collection of these treasures worthy of the name.

What our Society especially desires are books and pamphlets on American History, Biography and Genealogy, particularly of the West; works on Indian Tribes, and American Archaeology and Ethnology; Reports of Societies and Institutions of every kind; Statistical and Scientific Publications of States or Societies; Books or Pamphlets relating to the Great Rebellion and the Wars with the Indians; privately printed works, newspapers, maps and charts, engravings, photographs, autographs, coins, antiquities, and encyclopedias, dictionaries and biographical works.

Entire sets of works are specially solicited . . . but, than that’s material for our next Postcard.

The following story of how W.F. Cody got the nickname Buffalo Bill appeared in the Nov. 13, 1903 issue of the “Grand Encampment Herald.”

Buffalo Bill

Upon being questioned, Col. Cody repeated the oft-told tale of how he was given the title of Buffalo Bill.

He said, “The name was given to me by the hoboes who helped to build the Union Pacific. When the rails reached the buffalo country, the Indians were pretty thick and pretty bad on the whites, and desiring a change from salt meats, the company employed me to hunt buffalo for the men. I had quite a reputation as a buffalo hunter and so was put on the force as the meat man. I was a welcome visitor in camp upon my first few return trips, and the men used to yell out, ‘Here comes Bill with some nice buffalo meat.’

“The company found that it was cheaper to feed buffalo than to import salt meat, and the rations were limited to that. Thus the men wearied of a good thing, and they got to saying, ‘Here comes Bill with some more of that tough buffalo meat.’ My association with buffalo and a gang of hoboes who always nicknamed people gave me the title of Buffalo Bill.”

The Wild West show

Col. Cody talked at length about the great Wild West show of which he was the founder and which has made him famous throughout the world. Following a suggestion, he said that he did not believe any other man would have had the courage to launch such a show.

“People thought that a show without clowns, without snakes or elephants would not be a drawing card, but the fact is that the show has been on the road for 21 years and has traveled more miles, showed in more countries, played to more people and played before more royalty than any other show ever organized in the history of the world. I take great pride in the fact that the show is educational and therefore above all others.

“Wyoming and the West are pictured as they are and without exaggeration. One lives an hour in the West when he sees the show. When I hire a western cowboy to ride for the season, I tell him not to buy new chaps – the gaudy kind for show – but to report for business in the chaps he has worn while in the saddle, on the round-up and on the plains. I want the cowboy just as he is at home, and that is the way I present him to the world.”

“When will you promise to bring the show to Grand Encampment?” he was asked.

“Well,” replied the Colonel, “I will not show at Cody or Grand Encampment for another year at least, but I will tell you that the show takes well here at home. In 1892, I took the show – 70 cars, 600 people and 600 animals – all over my old scouting trails, starting at the Dakotas, through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana and back across the Mississippi, a distance of 14,000 miles, the greatest number of miles ever traveled by a show in one season. I met with the greatest approbation and success in the country where I had scouted for years.”

Next week, we will learn more about Buffalo Bill and his partner White Beaver.