1010: Electronic Records Day 2019

Electronic Records Day 2019 logo

We are happy to be joining our colleagues around the country to celebrate another Electronic Records Day! 

What is a born digital record?

Simply put, something is “born digital” if it was created on a computer, not as a physical format. It could be printed out, but most likely it will never exist as a hard copy. Born digital content is different from content that has been digitized. Examples of born digital content include word processing documents, spreadsheets, emails, and original images produced with digital cameras.

Why are we discussing born digital content?

Born digital content is the future of records management and the future of archives as well. According to research done by the New York State Archives 90% of today’s records are created electronically (born digital) and 70% of paper records were also created electronically and printed out. 

With this in mind, archivists and records managers across must make plans to address these record formats, including word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, databases, scanned images, email and attachments, presentations, photos, websites, social media, audio recordings, videos, electronic publications, Geographic Information System (GIS), Computer Aided Design (CAD) and more.

How do records managers and archivists preserve these born digital records created by these varying media systems? 

The same way we preserve paper documents: with care and knowledge of the medium. One of the challenges found in preserving born digital records is how quickly new technologies are born — and die. These born digital records must be monitored. Documents may need to be migrated to new equipment and/or file formats, or they risk becoming inaccessible, unreadable, or obsolete and lost to the world.

Other challenges archivists and records managers are facing in the struggle to preserve born digital records.

Digital record loss posterStorage — It may take up less physical space, but digital space is not free! It costs money to store such vast quantities of data on servers, just as it costs money to store paper records now. 

Continuous Changes — Some applications require constant updating and changing, like websites, social media and GIS. How then do we keep up with media that are almost always in flux? The Wyoming State Archives (WSA) does have a strategy for capturing state websites.

The WSA is partnering with the Internet Archive’s Archive-It Program to selectively capture, preserve, and make accessible websites created by Wyoming’s state agencies and officials. The Archive-It Program allows the capture of relevant web content and ensures its long-term access through the Internet Archive’s website. The Archive-It Program selectively crawls either web domains or individual web pages, taking a snapshot of the page, and storing a copy in the Internet Archive. The web page is then made publicly accessible on the Archive-It partner page. The web content collected reflects the administrative functions of Wyoming state government.

Bit Rot — Digital data is susceptible to loss, called “bit rot”. Much like the deterioration of paper or photographs, this loss degrades the quality of files and images, sometimes to the point that they are no longer readable.

How does the WSA manage born digital records?

Our archivists work with state agencies and county governments to help them maintain and preserve records, both paper and born digital. The born digital records include state websites, word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, reports and a plethora of other documentation. These documents and more can be found within the Wyoming State Digital Archives. The State’s emails and attachments are maintained by ETS (Enterprise Technology Service) the State’s IT department,  not by the WSA.

The process to incorporate born digital records for state agencies is simple. As long as the various state agencies follow their records retention schedules then they will know when to either pass the records onto the WSA or to get rid of the records. Agencies can also transfer inactive records to the Digital Archives first and then our records managers delete them when their retention period is up. Born digital records also come to us in all forms: floppy discs, CDs, via email, on servers, hard drives, USB drives, etc. When sending in born digital records our preferred formats are:

  • Image: jpeg, jpeg-2000, tiff
  • Text: txt, html, xml, PDF/A, Open Office XML
  • Audio: afif, wav
  • Video: mp4, avi
  • Databases: xml or convert to csv

Governor Gordon’s Office and Digital Records

Governor Mark Gordon’s office understands the challenges of born digital records. The Office of the Governor has reached out to the WSA for tips on how to manage and preserve the records being created every day in the course of the Governor’s work for Wyoming. Soon, the Governor’s staff may begin uploading digital files into the Wyoming Digital Archives for preservation – right from their own computers to the WSA.

Looking to the Future

Born digital records are the future of records and archives. This means records managers and archivists must plan and act now to ensure these records are properly cared for and accessible to future generations.

The Federal Government has mandated that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) cease accepting paper records from the various Federal Agencies after December 31, 2022. While the State of Wyoming has not officially made this leap, that day will come. And the work we and other stakeholders do today will ensure that the Wyoming State Archives will be ready when it does.

Additional Resources

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Welcome to Archives Month 2019!

Archives Month 2019 poster

October is American Archives Month, and the Wyoming State Archives is excited celebrate our collections, services, and hard-working staff.  We take pride in our mission to “provide access to Wyoming’s history, guidance in record keeping, and assistance in the management and preservation of public records.”  Throughout the month of October, keep watching this blog, as well as our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds for great stories, pictures, and a look behind-the-scenes at the work we do to make this happen.

Since this is the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming, our Archives Month poster features the original legislation granting this right to women in Wyoming Territory in 1869.  You can visit our reading room at 2301 Central Aveune in Cheyenne to learn more about this momentous act.

Ask An Archivist Day October 2

Have a question for us?  You can ask any time, but on October 2, archivists at the State Archives will join our colleagues around the county in responding to questions via Twitter (@WyoArchives) for Ask An Archivist Day, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists.  Use the hashtag #AskAnArchivist and challenge us!

Electronic Records Day 2019

Electronic Records Day is on 10.10.19. Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists, Electronic Records Day raises community awareness of the need to manage and preserve our digital heritage. This year, we will be sharing more about how we preserve electronic records of state government with our Wyoming Digital Archives.

And, on Tuesday, October 15, at 6:30 p.m., Rick Ewig, Cheyenne historian and former Associate Director of the American Heritage Center, will present “Ira Hanna: Cheyenne’s Around-the-Clock Mayor.” Ewig’s free talk will explore bribery, corruption, and gambling by the mayor of Cheyenne and its chief of police, culminating in a 1944 trial and prison sentence for all involved.

The Wyoming State Archives is proud to preserve the history of our wonderful state. We welcome you to visit and explore in person or online all year long.   

Kathy Marquis
Interim State Archivist

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They Would Not Be Denied: Wyoming’s 1st (and only) NFL Game

Advertisement for football game

Uncle Sam was enlisted to promote the game. (Wyoming Tribune September 10, 1944)

75 years ago today, Wyoming became a part of NFL history. On September 10, 1944 the Brooklyn Tigers, a professional football team in the National Football League, played the Fort Warren Broncos at Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Broncos team was comprised of active duty servicemen stationed at Fort Warren (now Warren Air Force Base) during World War II. This game was the first and only time an NFL team played in the state of Wyoming during the league’s 100 year history. 

Legendary sports announcer and commentator, and Wyoming native son, Curt Gowdy covered the game for the local Wyoming Eagle. He described the game as “[slated to be] a battle of the pros’ power and experience against the spirit and hustle of the quartermasters. It turned out just that way. A team that won’t be beat, can’t be beat.”[1]

Bleachers in the stadium

The Warren Bowl was an large multi-use sports field on the east side of Fort Warren (beside what is I-25 today). The sunken oval track and infield were surrounded by wooden bleachers, which had been expanded for this game. The press box and radio room also received upgrades. (WSA Stimson Neg 4756, Warren Bowl, 1930 by J.E. Stimson)

The game kicked off at 2:00 P.M. at the Warren Bowl with 3,000 to 4,000 in the bleachers, including 1,200 Cheyenne civilians. Enlisted personnel attended for free, while civilians paid $1.75 or $2.75 admission.[2] The low turnout among Cheyennites was partially blamed on predictions that the professional team would steamroll the Broncos. Bronco coach Captain Willis M. Smith remained optimistic, proclaiming the Broncos would give a good showing against the professional team. [3]

The naysayers were correct, but for only one quarter of the game. The first quarter belonged to the Tigers. The Tiger’s offense routinely smashed through the Broncos’ defensive line allowing for long gains on the ground. After a 49-yard march down the field Tiger’s halfback Frank Sachse lateraled to star fullback Pug Manders who then plunged into the endzone from the 12 yard line. Kicker Bruiser Kinnard’s extra point kick was good. The first minute of the second quarter saw another Tiger score. Ray Hare broke through the Broncos’ defensive front for an easy score. Kinnard’s extra point was good and the Tigers were up 14 points on the Broncos.

Photos of the football game from the newspaper

The Broncos, in their new red, white, and blue uniforms, stand out against the Tiger’s black and orange. (WSA Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944)

The Bronco defense settled down and dug in, not allowing the Tiger’s into the endzone through the rest of the second quarter and all of the third quarter. The Tiger’s offense did do some scoring of their own in the second and third quarters but penalties called the touchdowns back.

The fourth quarter opened with the Broncos still trailing the Tigers by two touchdowns. The Bronco offense came alive in the closing quarter of the game to score 21 unanswered points. The Tigers came back and scored a third touchdown in the final minute of the game. The Tiger kicker, Kinard, missed the extra point by sailing it high over the upright as the clock ticked to zero. If the game was played to college rules the kick would have been good, but professional rules stated the kick must go between the uprights. The final score was Broncos: 21 Tigers: 20. [4]

Final game box scores

(WSA Wyoming Tribune September 11, 1944

Bronco coach Captain Smith told the Wyoming Tribune after the game, “I am very pleased with the showing my team made. Everyone on the club who saw action did a remarkable job. The Tigers did everything we expected them to do and a little more.”

Brookly Tiger coach Pete Cawthorn lauded the tenacious Fort Warren Broncos. He told the Wyoming Tribune, “The Fort Warren team played a fine game after being behind two touchdowns. They made a swell showing and Captain Clifford Long (Bronco back) turned in an outstanding game… The credit shouldn’t go to any one Fort Warren player, however, as the entire Bronco team deserves credit equally for beating us.”

When asked if he could have changed anything about the game, Coach Cawthorn said he would have kept his starting line up in longer. “We probably took our first string out of the game too soon, early in the second quarter, but Fort Warren wasn’t to be denied.”

The 1944 season was the last season for the Brooklyn Tigers (whose name changed from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944.) Not surprising for a team in dead last with no wins during the regular season. Franchise owner Dan Topping announced he was joining the new All-America Football Conference, so the NFL canceled his franchise and merged the team with the Boston Yanks.[7]

The Fort Warren Broncos brought the confidence gained from beating the professional squad into their next game against University of Colorado at Boulder on September 23. The Broncos won this game 7-6.  Despite ended the season with an average record of 5-4-1, this football club is rumored to lay claim to an extraordinary feat in football history: the Fort Warren Broncos are the only independent team to ever defeat a professional football team and a major college program in the same season. [7]

ViewScan Premium PDF ouputIn his post-game commentary, Gowdy asked what “intangible something” underdogs possess that enabled them to pull off the unexpected. “That intangible something is team spirit… That team spirit must originate within the players themselves” and be fostered by the coaches. Gowdy’s credit started at the top with the fort’s commanding officer Brigadier General H.L. Whittaker for fostering participation in team sports on base and continuing to the coaches, who he praised for preparing the team to tackle what he argued was “one of the toughest schedules in the entire nation.” He ended with lavish praise of the team themselves:

To single out an outstanding player… would be doing an injustice to the Fort Warren eleven. They were jittery, out manned, and badly outplayed… and all fought together in one of the most perfect examples of team play you’ll ever hope to see. There were captains, lieutenants, enlisted men and players of different races hustling and winning side by side. Think that through. Isn’t that truly the democratic way of life?[8]

1. “Curt Comments”, Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944 p12. Born in Green River in 1919, Curt Gowdy began his career in journalism covering sports for his high school newspaper. Graduating with a degree in journalism and 3 letters in both tennis and basketball, Gowdy enlisted in the Army hoping to become a fighter pilot. It was not to be and he was medically discharged from the Air Force in 1943. That year he began calling high school and local sporting events in Cheyenne and covering sports for the Cheyenne radio station and Wyoming Eagle newspaper while he recovered from back surgery. By 1945, he was in Oklahoma covering and calling minor league and college sports. His distinctive style got him a job with New York Yankees in 1949. In 1951, he began calling for the Boston Red Sox. During his over 30 years on the national stage, Gowdy covered professional and college games in both football and baseball, including several noteworthy moments and numerous post-season games in both sports. He also called all of the Olympic Games televised by ABC from 1964-1988 and hosted or narrated several television shows.

2. “Fort Warren Broncs Vs. Brooklyn Tigers”, Wyoming State Tribune September 10, 1944
3. “Tough Broncs Trim Brooklyn Pros, 21 to 20.” Wyoming State Tribune, September 11, 1944, p. 5
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. “NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers.” Pro Football Hall of Fame https://www.profootballhof.com/news/nfl-s-brooklyn-dodgers/ (retrieved May 2019)
7. “Curt Comments”, Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944 p12.
8. This claim is not corroborated. We would love to hear from anyone with more information.

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Happy Electronic Records Day!

electronic_records_logo_2017_materials.jpgEvery year on 10/10, as a part of Archives Month, archives around the nation promote awareness of electronic records. Today is a great day to think about how you use digital records and how you manage them.

Electronic records surround us everyday, just as paper records do. Every text or email you send, online form you fill out, tweet you share, website you visit, and photo or video you take on your phone is a digital record. While some of the same basic principles for organizing paper records apply to digital, it can be daunting to manage and preserve all of these born digital materials.

Council of State Archives (CoSA) has provided tips for how to start discussions about topics like:

Pennsylvania State Archives poster "Preserve Your Digital Archives" with Aunt Edna

Or you can take Aunt Edna’s advice on how to start preserving your personal e-records (a big thanks to the the Pennsylvania State Archives for passing on the latest advice from Aunt Edna!)


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We’ve Had a Facelift! How Do We Look?

Just in time for Archives Month, we are pleased to announce our long awaited and much improved website. It’s the same web address, but it looks and feels very different! Help us celebrate by exploring this new window into the resources we have to offer you at the Wyoming State Archives.

We gave some thought to what people ask us for, and then we re-organized the site around those needs and requests:

  • How can I find what I need for my research?
  • How do I get a copy of my transcript / court case / cool photo I saw on your site?
  • What do you have and how do I find it?
  • I’m a government employee; how can you help me organize my records?
  • What do I need to know before I visit the Archives?

And if none of those work, just click on the button and we’ll see how we can help you!

We invite you to wander through the site to see what treats we have for you: Look through LUNA, a searchable database that includes photos, maps, and oral histories. Try out the links to “finding aids” (descriptions and lists) for state government records and papers of individuals and groups connected to Wyoming history. Explore the online version of the Wyoming Blue Books, an encyclopedia of state history. And check out the many types of records we have for discovering your family history – or the history of your house.

While you’re exploring, write down anything that doesn’t work (always a few bugs in the system, right?) or that you think is missing or could work better. Of course we’d also like to hear about what you loved or were surprised to find. Make our day! We want to make the site better and make sure it works for you. Tell us how and we’ll get to work.

— Kathy Marquis, Wyoming Deputy State Archivist

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Make Tracks to the WSA this Archives Month!

October is Archives Month, the time when archival institutions around the country make a special effort to promote the important work archives do in preserving and providing access to America’s documentary heritage.

Wyoming Archives Month 2017 Poster. Make Tracks to the Archives

Here are the things we at the Wyoming State Archives will be doing to celebrate the month:

  • We are pleased to kick the month off by launching our new website later this week. The new design has been many months in the making and its goal is to provide users easier access to information about the State Archives, the services we provide, and our collections. We are very excited about the changes and I hope you will visit the site and let us know what you think.
  • We will join archivists from around the country on Twitter October 4 for #AskAnArchivist. I encourage everyone to jump on Twitter and ask us any of those lingering, burning, nagging Archives questions.
  • October 10 is Electronic Records Day (#ERecsDay), so watch this space for an update on what the State Archives is doing to help state agencies and political subdivisions manage and preserve their electronic records. We will also pass along some good information on preserving electronic records from the Council of State Archivists.
  • Rick Ewig, a historian who has recently retired after a distinguished career as an archivist at the State Archives and the American Heritage Center, will be the State Museum’s fall lecture series speaker in October. Rick’s presentation titled, “Settling the Sterile and Desolate Plains: The Founding of Cheyenne and Then Some” is at 7pm, October 12, at the Wyoming State Museum. Rick published a book about the history of Cheyenne this summer. In researching the book, Rick used documents and photographs from several archives in the area, including the State Archives.

Our Archives Month activities always remind me what a privilege it is to be the Wyoming State Archivist. The staff, the collections, and our constituents make the job so rewarding. The State Archives provides valuable records management and imaging services to state agencies and political subdivisions. Our archival collections are a treasure trove for genealogists and historians and they help people resolve issues that come up in their daily lives. From photographs and historic documents to school transcripts and court records, the documentary heritage we preserve is incredibly diverse and important.

And with that, make tracks to the Archives and help us celebrate Archives Month!

— Mike Strom, Wyoming State Archivist

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This Day in History… Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis” Land in Cheyenne (1927)

Sub Neg 15389, Bonnie Gray and the 'Spirit of St. Louis', 9-2-1927

Bonnie Gray, champion rodeo cowgirl and trick rider, poses beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” during Col. Charles Lindbergh’s Guggenheim tour stop in Cheyenne, September 2, 1927 (WSA Richardson Print 636)

90 years ago today, Charles Lindbergh and “The Spirit of St. Louis” touched down in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His visit was part of a tour sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund to promote national interest in aviation. By all counts, the tour was a rousting success at this.

EPSON scanner image

Knights News Emporium in downtown Cheyenne festooned with bunting welcoming Lindbergh to Cheyenne (WSA Meyers Neg 3069)

The 3-month, 92 city tours of all 48 states followed Lindbergh’s solo trans-Atlantic flight in May and coincided with the release of his book “WE”, recounting the flight, that July. It is estimated that 30 million people or roughly one quarter of the United States population saw the aviator.

Ad for the Klein Music Co, Dildine Garage Company and Sam Zall Jewelers announcing ties of their products to Lindgbergh

The local papers were plastered with ads attempting to cash in on Lindbergh’s visit to Cheyenne (Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader 9-2-1927 p11)

Cheyenne was not immune to Lucky Lindy fever. Already a regional aviation hub, the city fathers saw this as a chance to shine and everyone wanted a piece of the action. Downtown buildings were festooned with bunting and pictures of the aviator. Significant portions of 3 days’ newspapers (September 1-3) were devoted to the stop, reporting in detail scheduled stops, meetings, tours, dinners, and speeches.

Headline "Lindbergh Arrives in Cheyenne Friday" "Spirit of St. Louis Circles then "WE" Land"

Front page of the Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader announcing Lindbergh’s arrival in Cheyenne. (September 2, 1927, p.1)

According to the papers, Lindbergh landed at the air field just before 2 pm. The paper took care to refute reports that the aviator was forced down by engine trouble. He was then given a tour of the business district by Governor Frank Emerson, Mayor C.W. Riner and Brigadier General Dwight E. Aultman of Fort D.A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base). He then gave a short speech at Frontier Park which was broadcast live by local radio station KFBU. He spent sometime talking to the press at the Plains Hotel before a banquet with 600 lucky Cheyennites. The retired to his room at the Plains for the night. The next morning at 6 am, he left for Salt Lake City almost 2 hours early.

Headline "Cheyenne Honors Col. Charles A. Lindbergh", "Lindbergh, Cynosure of Millions of Eyes, Finds Things Here Like Every Place Else"

(Wyoming State Leader-Cheyenne State Tribune 9-3-1927 p1)

The press seemed to sympathize with the “Lone Eagle” and his packed schedule. They reported him looking extremely tired but remaining courteous and in good spirits despite an incessant press of people straining to get a glimpse of their hero.

P99-7_39, Spirit of St Louis and Charles Lindberg at the Cheyenne air field, Sept 2, 1927

Scrapbook page showing 4 prized photos taken shortly after the “Spirit of St. Louis” landed at the Cheyenne air field. The law enforcement officers guarding the plane can be seen in these images, along with ropes used to manage the crowd. (WSA P99-7/39)

p2017-_ _2, Charles Lindbergh and 'Spirit of St Louis' at Cheyenne Airport, 9-2-1927

Lindbergh and other men, probably mechanics or air field attendants, standing beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” with a hangar in the background. This is one of four photographs of the visit generously donated to the Wyoming State Archives in August 2017.

Additional Reading

Guggenheim Tour,” CharlesLindbergh.org. (accessed Aug 2017)

WE, by Charles Lindbergh (1927). The book was published by George P. Putnam of New York. Putnam enthusiastically promoted aviation and would later marry Amelia Earhart. 

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In the Dark of the Sun

Though Monday’s total solar eclipse will not be the first seen in Wyoming, it will be the first in nearly 100 years. Of the 5 other total solar eclipses visible in the US since Wyoming became a territory in 1869, 3 have passed through Wyoming: 1878, 1889, and 1918. These unique events were memorable for many Wyomingites.

This maps shows past and future eclipses visible in the United States since 1503. Wyoming is highlighted in yellow. (credit NASA https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/history-along-track)


Eclipse viewing party with their telescopes at Battle Lake in 1878. Thomas Edison is standing 2nd from the right.
(Carbon County Museum Collection, WSA Sub Neg 5219)

The area near Rawlins drew scientists from around the country, including Thomas Edison, for the 1878 eclipse. (Unsubstantiated) legend has it that Edison was inspired to create the filament for the incandescent light bulb while camping that year. (Read more about the 1878 eclipse here)

Scanned by Scan2Net

In Cheyenne, the Weather Service observer recorded a 4 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1878 Daily Observations)


In 1889, the eclipse coincided with New Year’s Day festivities in many communities and viewing parties sprang up everywhere. In the larger towns, newspapers gave their residents some warning of the event. The Big Horn Sentinel wrote:

“If you have not prayed for a year, do not get scared and fall on your knees Tuesday afternoon when it begins to grow dark. It is not the day of judgement only an eclipse which will begin about two o’clock and become nearly total.” [1] 

But the event surprised many in rural communities. In in the Big Horn Basin near Hyattville, Gus Allen remembered a horse race being delayed by the eclipse. The race  between his brother and their horse wrangler was held at a track at Joe Adle’s ranch.

“I do not recall the day, or the month, but feel rather confident that it was in 1888[2] ; anyway, when the time came the world was there. At least all of our world was there. How vivid is the memory yet, of all the excitement among the gathering of frontiersmen. Everyone was so keyed up over the race that no one knew or had noticed that an eclipse was coming over the sun; but when all was in readiness and the two brother jockeys were getting their racers on the mark, it got so dark that everyone was appalled. The race was delayed, and we all gazed in awe at one another. I have no idea how long it lasted, but believe you me, it really got plenty dusky. Then it began to get light once more, and I can still hear those old roosters crowing, as all of Adle’s chickens had gone to roost. That must have been the shortest night those chickens had ever experienced in their lives. You can well imagine how shady it got that bright clear day, and how astonished we people were, being more familiar with cows than with astronomy.

After the sun got real bright once more, and we all had brightened up too, the two determined disciples of the turf once more lined up at the barrier and were off!…” [3]  

Many newspapers mention the use of smoked glass to view the eclipse. The Rawlins paper even reported young boys breaking windows with rocks to procure the glass. [4] (PLEASE NOTE: Smoked glass is NOT RECOMMENDED for safe viewing of eclipses. Find ideas for viewing safe viewing here)

Though the path of totality cut through only the Northeastern corner of the state, the eclipse was nearly complete in the rest of the state. Several papers mentioned  it was so dark that Venus (the morning star) was visible.

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device

The Weather Service observer in Cheyenne recorded a 10 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1889 Daily Observations)

1918 – The Last “Great American Eclipse”

On June 8, 1918, the total solar eclipse passed across the United States from coast to coast, as it will on Monday. One of the best places in Wyoming to view the eclipse was around Green River and Rock Springs. Two astronomical observatories were set up in the area by the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago and the Carnegie Institution at Mt. Wilson, California. A small tornado narrowly missed the observatory in Green River on the 3rd, but thankfully it was operational on the 8th for the main event.[5] 

Cheyenne photographer Joseph Shimitz captured this image of the solar eclipse on June 8, 1918. The eclipse is not total at this instant. The clouds, which made for a striking photograph, created less than idea viewing conditions. Several people can be seen in the foreground at the very bottom of the frame.
(WSA Meyers Neg 6162)

On the day of the eclipse, the view from Rock Springs was clear, but at Green River the sun was obscured by cloud cover. This dampened spirits a bit, but they were soon revived when Dr. E.E. Barnard, who was in charge of the Yerkes observatory, observed a new star that night which he named “Nova Aquilae”, as reported by the Rock Springs Miner.[6]

1.  Big Horn Sentinel, December 29, 1888, page 3

2. Allen was only off by a year and New Year’s Day would have been a logical date for a community celebration. WPA Bio 9, Gus Allen, page 5-7

3. ibid.

4. Carbon County Journal January 5, 1889, page 3

5. Green River Star May 17, 1918 page 1, and  Cheyenne State Leader June 4, 1918, page 3

6. Rock Springs Miner June 14, 1918, page 1. Nova Aquilae 1918 is also known as V603 Aquilae. For more information about Dr. Barnard, the 1918 eclipse and Nova Aquilae, see The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, by William Sheehan, page 405-407.

Further Reading:

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Laramiewood: Douglas Fairbanks Films in Wyoming



On August 8, 1917, while guns blazed in Europe, silent film and Broadway star Douglas Fairbanks and his troop of actors began filming scenes for his newest movie, “The Man from Painted Post” at the Riverside Ranch near Laramie, Wyoming. They would stay for 2 weeks.

The film arrived in Wyoming theatres in mid-October 1917 to record crowds. Theatres around the state, who usually only showed a film twice a day on Friday and Saturday, scheduled double or triple this number to keep up with local demand.

(WSA Wyoming Tribune October 17, 1917)

(WSA Wyoming Tribune October 17, 1917)

Fairbanks had grown up in Denver before moving to New York to pursue an acting career on Broadway. In 1915, he began acting for the camera when it was still being looked down upon by many “serious” actors. His gamble paid off and he was soon one of the biggest names in the blossoming motion picture industry.

Fairbanks not only acted in “The Man from Painted Post”, originally titled “Handsome/Fancy Jim Sherwood,” he also wrote the screen play and acted as producer for the film. His brother, John, was the general manager of the Fairbanks Company troop. Many big name rodeo cowboys, like Sam Brownell, also made appearances beside the famous actors.

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 4, 1917)

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 4, 1917)

The climactic fight scene was shot at the Woods Landing schoolhouse with students playing themselves while Fairbanks fights the “bad guy” for the schoolmarm’s affection. Apparently the cameraman caught some “real” action when a couple of boys also started to brawl.

Filming was not without incident. $1500 in jewelry went missing from cowgirl Prairie Rose Judd’s tent. A fire broke out and destroyed most of the wardrobe for Douglas and two other actors. Cloudy skies and rain stalled filming on several occasions. The mayor of Rock River interrupted filming of the final scene on Main Street, insisting the company needed permission first. Despite these setbacks, Fairbanks was very pleased with his time in the “Gem City.”

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 9, 1917)

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 9, 1917)

The Laramie Chamber of Commerce took the opportunity to speak with Fairbanks about permanently locating his company in Laramie. The local paper was full of talk of setting up a permanent filming camp and even a “resort” near Woods Landing to cater to the visiting stars. Fairbanks seemed to entertain the idea, mentioning that the location half way between California and New York would certainly be convenient and promised to send a company representative to look into the possibility, but nothing ever came of it.

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On This Day in Wyoming History… 1892: What Invasion?

This week marks the 125th anniversary of the Johnson County War or Johnson County Invasion, depending upon you’re view.  Much has been written in the last century about the events of April 1892 and the debate rages to this day about what did or did not happen in Northern Wyoming.

This is the story of an erstwhile traveler who was caught up in the excitement, as told by Albert W. Richards of Sheridan in the 1930s.

Gillette, Wyoming in 1892.
(WSA Sub Neg 8983)

In the Spring of 1892, I, in the company of other young men, made a trip into Kansas City where we heard that the new railroad extension of the CB&Q which ran from Kansas City, Missouri, to Gillette, Wyoming, was offering to take anyone into the new territory for the nominal price of $2.

I was a young man of 27 then and craved to be a lawyer and had the idea that if I could get out west I could work and save enough money to study…

I never will forget the day I stepped off the train at Gillette. It was April the 15th and I was met by a reception committee composed of 5 or 6 men who looked daggers at me and roared, “What do you want?”

I just stood and stared at them. I guess I presented a rather ludicrous spectacle standing there staring at these men who just plain “jumped all over me.” I wondered if this was the West that Horace Greeley advised young men to go to. Too astonished to speak, I just stood and stared and one of the men rammed a six-shooter into my totally empty stomach and yelled, “Well?”

That made me pretty mad and I snorted, “Say, is this the West where they meet a man with six-guns and ask him his business?”

One of the other men said, “Do you know where Powder River is?”

“Never heard of it in my life. Do they want men to work there? That’s what I’m looking for, is work.”

“What kind of work?”


They looked at one another and went on with their questioning. “What made you think you could get work on a farm in this country?”

“Well, I thought there was work of that kind and I took a chance with $2.”

“You’re not sure somebody didn’t round you up?”

“Round me up nothing. My pardner and me,” here I turned to look for my pardner but discovered I had none, “Well,” I fairly screamed at my reception committee, “just what do you folks want to find out?”

“Well, we want to know have you or have you not come out here to help capture the invaders?”

“Invaders? Why I didn’t even know you had an invasion. Where is it?”

Johnson County Invaders being held by the US Army at Fort DA Russell in 1892.
(WSA Sub Neg 9516)

My reception committee held a consultation then and decided to OK me. I went on my way toward the restaurant where I found my pardner half scared to death. “Say,” he whispered to me, “I’m getting out of this town. They say they shoot strangers on sight.”

“Well,” I told him, “there seems to be some sort of invaders they are afraid we came to help. If anyone asks you any questions, why you just tell them the plain truth and you’ll be OK.”

Gillette at that time was the end of the railroad and it was certainly a busy little town but of course the excitement that prevailed was the outgrowth of the Cattlemen’s Invasion which had taken place a few days previously and the cattlemen were then being held prisoners at Ft. McKinney and everyone was excited, suspicious and nervous. But Gillette was a typical little railroad burg at that time: there were a few dwellings and only about half a hundred business houses which were for the most part saloons or combinations of saloons and restaurants. But what Gillette lacked in buildings, it made up for in crowds – everywhere, on the street corners, in saloons, restaurants, everywhere there were large groups of freighters, cowboys, farm hands, emigrants and Indians. They were a heterogeneous mob but they were all good fellows and a spirit of good fellowship prevailed that you find nowhere today.

Richards and his partner found a ride to Sheridan with a freight outfit for $5 each.

Three weeks later, we reached Sheridan. It had been a terrible trip. Rain and snow and soft roads all the way up. As soon as I landed in Sheridan, I secured a job with [James M.] Works, father of Clara Works and Mrs. Jack Flagg. Clara was the first teacher to teach in Sheridan… in 1882-83… Mrs. Jack Flagg was married to a rustler of Johnson County and Works was all riled up over the invasion and I began to believe that this was a wild and woolly West sure enough. I didn’t know anything about the controversy between the rustlers and the cattlemen and told Works so, so he fired me. I laugh about it now when I think about it all. I guess Works thought I was in sympathy with the cattlemen and he was all wrought up about it.[1]

Cowboys around the Bar C Roundup Wagon, ca 1884. Several of the men in this group would be involved in the 1892 range war, including Nate Champion and Jack Flagg.
(WSA Sub Neg 12128)

1. WPA Bio 2208, A.W. Richards, Wyoming State Archives. Punctuation corrected. Richards settled in Sheridan County, working as a mail carrier, milk man, ranch hand, gold miner, and farmer, among other things.

For more information about the Johnson County War (list not inclusive):

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