Monday, January 27, 2014

Wyoming

Okay, I’ll be honest. I just don’t know that much about this place. Beautiful country, I understand. Rolling plains, majestic mountains. Wide skies. “Little dogies.” Maybe even a couple of people, who knows?

Well, I do know that they’ve got their fair share of pretty crazily named places. Here, let me show you what I mean …

10. Muddy Gap

I think it’s pretty safe to say that – no matter how descriptive – towns should never have the word “mud” in them.

Like me, Snowman0812 wanted to know a little bit more about this place. Elk Hunter was kind enough to help us both out:

“Well, Muddy Gap is in the middle of nowhere. It has a population of about 10. It's 77 miles from Casper and 43 miles from Rawlins. Casper is a good shopping meca [sic] where as [sic] Rawlins will only have the basics.”

WyoMama then added her two cents:

“Is out in the middle of nowhere, but I kinda' like it there. There ARE a couple of homes up on the hill to the east between Jeffry City & Muddy Gap - probably counting those. I can't IMAGINE what anybody would do there to make a living - I sure wouldn't live there & work anywhere else - too far - but is the best route to get from Rawlins to Cody in the winter - that trip from the Gap to Riverton even tho not many ppl on it, seems protected from the really bad snows. Have taken it several times.”

And baadsheep, of course, didn’t want to be outdone:

“Being that I live at Muddy gap. I figure I'm most qualified............ There is a gas station there and its [sic] open. The most active business is the Mormons have the Hand cart center at Devils gate. (you should see the number of busses come here on the average day!!!!!!!!!!). The wind is pretty fierce here especialy [sic] during the winter. There is about 20 people here (especialy [sic] if you count cats and dogs)!!!!!!!!”

MG is also the place setting for this
and a couple of other romances by the same author
(at least I think this is a romance - and not gay porn)

9. Saddlestring

Saddle soap? Silly string? Saddle shoes? Superstring?

So, first of all, there is something called “saddle string.” It sounds like it’s just long pieces of leather, used to lace things up (like chaps) or tie something to your saddle. Now, why you’d ever want to name your town after it is another story entirely (and, alas, one I could not uncover).

The “town” of Saddlestring is in the north central part of Wyoming. In fact, it looks like it might be one and the same with a ranch located there, the HF Bar Ranch. This place is one of the oldest dude ranches around, and has hosted movie stars, Supreme Court justices, and “captains of industry.”

Available on culturedcowboy.com

8.Medicine Bow

Why, a bow for your meds, of course. Why do you ask?

Actually, it’s from the Medicine Bow River. And that came about as follows:

“Along the banks of the river, the Native Americans found excellent material for making their bows. To them, anything they found good for a purpose was called ‘good medicine.’" (from the town site)

This enormous metropolis of almost 300 people is in the south central part of the state. It owes its existence to the transcontinental railroad, which came through in 1868. At one point, it loaded the largest number of cattle per day on the whole line. MB is also on the old Lincoln Highway. Finally, the town is the site of The Virginian, a novel that many consider the very first western.

A house made of fossils -
believe it or not!

7. East Thermopolis

Now, Thermopolis all by itself probably wouldn’t have made it onto this list. Adding that “East,” though, definitely moves the needle on the silly meter enough to make this a real player.

And, yes, this does indeed mean “city of heat.” Now, why did they call themselves the “city of heat”? Well, would the world’s largest hot springs do it for you?

And, yes, there is a just plain old Thermopolis. In fact, that’s where the springs are. East Thermopolis itself doesn’t have a lot to crow about. At 250 citizens, it’s got less than one tenth the people of Thermopolis. It does, however, have the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. By the way, the two places are separated by the Bighorn River, and are in the north central part of the state.

Live on the side of this hill; work shooting buffalo;
prosper in this dry, dusty land

6. Spotted Horse

You know what comes up first as a suggestion when I type “spotted” into Google? Hint: it’s not Spotted Horse. What we get instead is “spotted dick.” And that is an English dessert – i.e., not what you had in mind, you dirty bugger.

Curiously, Spotted Horse is not a dessert, but a small town near the Montana border. And when I say “small,” I mean small. Wikipedia’s got SH down for a population of two. Two!

The name? It’s after some Native American dude.

Downtown SH – a bar (and nothing else)

5. Crowheart

Another Indian dude? Well, in a way, yes. Here, let Wikipedia explain:

“According to legend, following a five-day battle for rights to the hunting grounds in the Wind River Range, Chief Washakie of the Shoshone and Chief Big Robber of the Crow agreed to a duel, with the winner gaining the rights to the Wind River hunting grounds. Chief Washakie eventually prevailed, but he was so impressed with the courage of his opponent, that rather than scalp him, he instead cut out his heart and placed it on the end of his lance.”

Wow! That’s quite a story. In fact, that might be the best name origin story in this whole darn blog. In addition, it also sure beats calling your town Big Robber, am I right?

Crowheart has 140 people, and is on the Wind River Indian Reservation. 

See, somebody put it on a piece of wood 
– it must be true

4.  Jay Em

A white guy. A white guy with the initial J and M. In particular, one white guy named James Moore, who owned a ranch here.

JM is near the Nebraska border, close to – pretty much like everything else in this state – absolutely nothing. We’re talking about a whopping 80 people here. The center of town – which is half abandoned – is actually on the National Register of Historic Places. 

It’s historic!

3.  Chugwater

If you can make any sense of the following story of how this place got its name (from Wikipedia), then you’re a better man/woman than I:

“Some historians hold that the name ‘Chugwater’ is derived from a Mandan account of a bison hunt. According to this narrative, a chief was disabled during the hunt and his son took charge of the hunt or ‘buffalo jump.’ Under his direction, hunters drove the bison over nearby cliffs; when the animals reached the ground below, a sound of ‘chugging’ was heard by the hunters. The story concludes with an etymology: since a stream was near the base of the cliffs, the site of the stampede has been called ‘the place’ or ‘water at the place where the buffalo chug.’”

Chugwater has about 200 people. It’s not too far from Jay Em.

It’s main claim to fame is being where Clayton Danks played cowboy. Don’t know Clayton? Well, he and his horse Steamboat were the models for Wyoming’s famous state symbol. 

Look familiar? I thought so.

2. West Thumb

Interestingly, there is no Thumb. Nor is there an East Thumb, a South Thumb, a Fort Thumb, Thumb Junction, or anything to do with the first digit.

This one does, though, have a pretty reasonable explanation however. West Thumb is actually perched on a little bay off Yellowstone Lake, a bay that looks a little bit like a thumb (if you’re feeling particularly imaginative, that is), a bay that happens to be on the west side of Yellowstone Lake. Et, voila!

So, WT is indeed part of Yellowstone Park. In fact, it looks like West Thumb might be no more than some geysers and a big parking lot. In other words, no postcards, postmarks, or signage for this one.

Though more strangely colored water
than you’ve probably ever seen in your life

1. Ten Sleep

I think we all can guess where this one comes from (it took 10 days to get here from somewhere else). That said, it’s still a beaut.

As for the town itself, it’s got about 250 people. It’s basically a ranching community, but with plenty of tourists as well. The latter are attracted to beautiful Ten Sleep Canyon, as well as a rodeo and the Nowoodstock music festical. Some of the touristically-oriented establishments in town include the Crazy Woman Café and Pub and Dirty Sally ‘s Gift Store. Hmm, am I detecting a theme here?

Quod est demonstratum

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Lake, Valley, Canyon, Halfway
  • Short & sweet – Orin, Urie, Orpha, Uva, Otto, Acme, Alta, Alva, Almy, Elmo, Jelm, Ulm, Lusk (monument to slain madam in the middle of nowhere), Vore 
  • Native American mouthfuls – Wamsutter, Meeteestse
  • Just a little out of place – Midwest, Dayton, Buffalo, Albany, Jamestown, Atlantic City, Bordeaux, Eden
  • Just a little off color – Fannie
  • Orthographically challenged – Merna, Ranchester (T-Rex museum in guy's house), Linch, Baggs, Savery
  • Numerically oriented – Four Corners, Centennial
  • Abnormal nouns – Wolf, Sunrise, Shell, Encampment (two-story outhouse), Freedom, Reliance, Recluse, Emblem (formerly Germania Bench), Banner, Basin, Boulder, Battle, Pavilion, Colony, Node, Story, Riddle, Downer
  • Atypical adjectives – Sage, Superior, Veteran, Federal
  • Unconventional verbs – Burns
  • Fun to say – Calpet, Lingle, Yoder, Smoot, Quealy
  • Just plain weird – Lookout, Lonetree (population: 1), Redbird, Greybull (Museum of Aerial Firefighting), Little Bear, Sundance, Boxelder, Cokeville, Burntfork, Hat Creek, Powder River, Point of Rocks, Lost Cabin, Big Sandy, Sand Draw, Hamilton Dome, La Barge, Old Faithful, Little America, Tie Siding, Ucross, Mayoworth, Bigtrails, Bar Nunn, Dull Center, Dumbbell, Pitchfork, Devils Tower, Hells Half Acre
  • Just plain weird, elks – Elk, Elk Mountain, Elk Basin, Moose (ah, what the heck)
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Bill, Byron, Buford (population: 1), Daniel, Douglas, Egbert, Opal, Cora, Hanna, Ryan Park, Jenny Lake, Shirley Basin, Jeffrey City
  • Ghost towns – Gebo, Jireh, Hecla, Rudefeha, Carbon, Sunrise, Rambler, Dines, Sublette, Fort Fred Steele, Mormon Row, Miner’s Delight (girlhood home of Calamity Jane), Tubb Town


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