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Casper, WY

A delightful drive

sunny 90 °F

Howdy Partner!

There are two logical choices in traveling from Laramie to Casper. One is by Interstate Highway, the other by two lane road. For a change I chose the latter and it was a good one. Traveling north for about 30 miles on US 30/287 to Medicine Bow (how's that for an Indian name) & traversing seemingly endless prairie land I saw ranches, both horse and cattle, along the way, a reminder that this truly is the west. I have seen two Schools of Horseshoeing & Farriers in my travels. Guess I never thought of them existing but there certainly is a need for these rancher/cowboys to care for their horses' feet.
At Medicine Bow I headed northeast on WY487 to Casper, a distance of 120 miles. The topography changed from rangeland to rock outcroppings (hills/small mts.) of varying color. Reds, sand colors. Noticed along the way depressions or dried-up lakes or ponds covered in a white substance. I learned later in Casper that this substance is salt. The Salt Creek area of Casper holds immense oil reserves. During the migration (1840's,50's) of homesteaders through Casper on the Oregon & Mormon Trails these people noticed black liquid seeping from the ground. They found that by mixing the black substance (oil) with flour a lubricant could be made to grease the axles of their wagons.
Since about 1900 Casper has become a regional center for oil exploration, production, refining, and distribution of petroleum and its products. This is evidenced by the city's prosperity today and a pop. of 60K.
After getting set-up at the campground I went downtown to catch dinner at a local establishment. I chose CB Brand Restaurant (like branding iron) in the historic district of Casper. The six- block area of the city has a multitude of restaurants, saloons, shops, etc. and has brick streets with flower gardens in the medians separating the driving lanes. At one end is a park with bandstand, interactive water fountain for kids to play in/on, vendors, etc. I walked over after dinner and sat enjoying the music, the activity, and the beauty of the area.

Casper has quite a history. It was originally one of the dozens of military forts or posts built to protect the homesteaders and later railroad workers from Indian attacks. Hundreds of US Cavalry troops were assigned to these outposts. Today, on the original site is Fort Caspar (notice difference in spelling), a recreated log fortress whose buildings are constructed of original materials (logs) on the same footprint of the old fort. In the buildings are artifacts showing life as it was lived during those harsh times. Inside the museum building is a detailed history of the City of Casper (so named posthumously for US Cavalry Lieutenant Caspar Collins who was killed in 1865 in a skirmish with Indians). More to the story but I won't get into it.
Casper's first growth was from cattle & sheep. Called the 'Great Grass Bonanza' tens of thousands of cattle & sheep were driven to Wyoming's railroad yards for shipment back east to the slaughter houses. Along the way the animals were allowed to graze on the prairie grasses to fatten them thus bringing higher prices at auction. Cattle has been and continues to be an economic staple in Wyoming.

The discovery of oil has made Wyoming a wealthy State. At its peak in 1923 the Salt Creek oil field alone had 1,700 wells producing 35,300,000 barrels of oil that year. Standard Oil Co. gained control of the Wyoming oil and today it produces up to 40,000 barrels a day. Probably the biggest 'oil smudge' on the industry was the Teapot Dome Scandal in 1923. Without getting into too much detail, in 1921 Pres. Woodrow Wilson appointed Senator Albert Fall as Sect'y of the Interior. Soon after Fall convinced the Sect'y of the Navy to transfer jurisdiction of the Naval Petroleum Reserve to his Dept. Sect'y Fall then leased the rights to the oil, without competitive bids, to a Harry F. Sinclair. Rumors surfaced that Sect'y Fall was personally spending large sums of money. After a Congressional investigation the men were charged with corruption, bribery and consiparacy to defraud the US Government. Stiff fines were levied along with prison terms.
Wyoming is known as 'The Oil Capitol of the Rockies' and with the title it has endured a 'boom or bust' economy for 100 years. During WWII the Casper Army Air Force base was constructed in just 4 months in 1942 with an airfield and 400 buildings being built. It served as a final training stage for crews of B-17 & B-24 bombers and in all trained 16,000 combat crew members during the war. It was deactivated in March 1945 at war's end. So much to share & so little space.

Posted by dixter 17:59 Archived in USA Tagged the on way to casper

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