Today’s stop on our trek around the state is Sinks Canyon. No, the canyon was not named for the local’s habit of tossing their unwanted kitchen basins here. This is the site of the Popo Aggie River’s (pronounced po po shia) big disappearing acting. The river flows into a cave, called the Sinks, and goes under ground for about half a mile before re-emerging into a pool filled with trout, called the Rise.
To this day, no one is quite certain of the exact route the river takes, but dye tests suggest it takes water 2.5 hours to make the journey. To add to the mystery, more water flows out of the Rise than flowed into the Sinks!
According to one Native American legend, star-crossed lovers are credited with the creation of the Sinks. A young maiden lived near the Popo Agie River and she fell in love with a young man from another tribe. Her father did not approve of the match and told the young man to leave and return to his people. Distraught, the couple eloped. The enraged father chased the couple but suddenly, a cave appeared and swallowed the couple…and the river.
Cattle and sheep have thrived on the meadows and hillsides in the canyon since the 1870s. The first apple trees were planted in the valley by Gaylor in the 1890s and more were later planted by Ed Young. The trees flourished, as did a University of Wyoming agricultural experiment farm. Soon the area was billed as the “apple valley” in an attempt to attract settlers and homesteaders. Some of the original trees are still around more than 100 years later. (FYI, there are rumors of a WY PBS Field to Fork episode on the Fremont County apple trees coming soon…)