Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fort Bridger, Little America, Rock Spring and The Community Fine Arts Center, Wyoming.........and Antelopes!

We got back on Interstate 80, also known as The Lincoln Highway, before eleven this morning. We just couldn't seem to get going today. The scenery had gotten started without us, though.

We hadn't gone thirty miles before we stopped at The Fort Bridger State Historic Site to see the fort. One of the things that drew us there was a line of tall, straight trees with leaves like aspens. They had beautiful white trunks, like birches.

We took three million pictures of the trees, paid the four dollar entrance fee, and met Lin, an 89 year old man who welcomed us to the fort.  We complimented his pony tail, and he told us it keeps his neck warm in the winter. What a great spirit this man has, and he's still working!

Fort Bridger was established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843 to be a supply stop along the Oregon Trail.  Bridger is the man who discovered the Great Salt Lake.  The fort was taken over by the Mormons in the 1850's and became a military outpost in 1858. Until 1890 it was government property. In 1933 the property was dedicated as a  Wyoming Historical Landmark and Museum.  There is much information about the fort at

Officers' Headquarters
The first schoolhouse in Wyoming is on the grounds, along with Jim Bridger's fort, officers' quarters which also served as private homes over the years,  parade grounds, and a museum.  There are many other buildings, but some of them were closed, as the summer season is ending this week here.
Those trees, we were told, are an aspen, and the lady who told us that called them "Quikis."  Our tree book, in the glove compartment of our car, named them Quaking Aspen.  We can see where the "Quiki" may have come from.....
.........or not.

Thirty more miles along the road, we stopped at Little America. The town has 56 people. There is one humongous area which includes a hotel, restaurant, auto repair shop, showers, a truck stop, and anything else that a traveler or truck driver might need.  There are four Little America hotels in the west somewhere.

The interesting thing about Little America is that the Sinclair Oil Company opened this hotel in 1934 with only 12 rooms. Now there are 140 rooms. There is a certain "Wall Drug Store" atmosphere with the highway billboards leading up to the exit for Little America. A penguin sits on top of the hotel's corners, as that was their logo when it opened. We had to stop. We bought some postcards and ate lunch in their cafeteria: a bowl of really weak chili for me, and a hot dog for Randy.  Now we can say we've been there.

The Cedar Mountains were to our right as we continued on 80 E, and as with yesterday, the scenery changed as we drove along. An area which a sign identified as the Wyoming Badlands, looked very much  like the badlands of South Dakota.

After another 25 miles we got off at Rock Spring, a small city with a gem in the middle of it. An science teacher named Elmer Halseth began this art center by buying piece of artwork for his school.  Over the years, this Community Fine Arts Center became a collaboration of the city of Rock Springs, Sweetwater County and local School District #1.  It now has over 500 pieces of artwork in its permanent collection.  I was impressed with the fact that it is attached to the library, and children who were in the library wandered over to see the art, at will.

The Center has a Norman Rockwell titled "New Year's Eve," which was a Saturday Evening Post Cover, and also a painting by Grandma Moses. Local artists' works are on display, and there is a wing for pieces which were purchase pieces from students at the high school, many of which are amazing.  There is no charge to visit the museum, but you can make a donation if you visit.  You can also learn more about it at   We were impressed! Sorry, no photos were allowed,  but if you google "Norman Rockwell  New Year's Eve," you can see the painting that we saw there today, just not the real deal.

A truly astounding thing occurred today.  Antelope stood along the side of the highway and let us see them!  Hundreds of them !  Whole herds of antelope, everywhere we looked, were grazing, running, and sleeping in the sunshine right where we could see them!  Randy pulled the car to a stop so I could take this picture. We didn't get quite this close to them again, but it was wonderful to see them in the wild.  We've been to where the deer and the antelope play, and actually seen them playing! (Unless, of course, these are merely cardboard cut-outs that some pitying person stuck out there for us to get a thrill...)

Near Rock Springs is also the largest herd of wild horses in the country.  We saw a herd of horses, but weren't sure if they were wild or not.  Apparently they round up some of the horses, and find them homes each year to decrease the herd size. 

After the Cultural Fine Arts Center, we needed to get going. We'd only gone a hundred miles and it was already after 3 PM !  That's what happens when you're a roamer.

We continued for another hundred miles or so, and tonight we are in a lovely, new Comfort Inn on the outskirts of  Rawlins, Wyoming.  It's in the middle of the southwestern part of Wyoming, in Carbon County.  You've heard of Carbon County, when you heard of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  They were arrested here. 

We may find out more about that tomorrow. 

Copyright: KP Gillenwater 2013