Lincoln Highway

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From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This page: Lincoln Highway, Rock River contined, the death of Judy Tyler.

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Table of Contents
About This Site

Approach to Rock River from West on U.S. 30 [Former Lincoln Highway], courtesy

Just as Bosler lost population as a result of being by-passed by I-80, so has Rock River. Many of the original buildings are now gone or have been abandoned. The site of Miller's drugstore is now a vacant lot. The pool hall, depicted on the first page of this section, has now been racked up, but the hotel next door is a private residence. Across the street the little church remains.

Rock River poolhall.

Rock River still has several establishments serving the occasional traveler. At one time Rock River, in addition to the usual gas stations and several motels, had two roadside attractions, Billy the Kid's Motel, Bar, and roadside zoo, and the Fossil Cabin, a dinosaur museum. Billy the Kid's is now gone. The dinosaur museum for the most part closed.

Closed businesses, 400 block North 4th Street, Rock River.

The furthest building is a closed bar.

Closed businesses, 400 block North 4th Street, Rock River.

About a half mile further to the north is the former site where the Union Pacific constructed snow sheds of precast concrete. The first snow sheds were constructed in 1917 of wood. They were replaced beginning in 1919 with permanent shed of precast concrete formed in open yards about six-tenths of a mile north of town. During the period the sheds were being constructed, jobs were provided. When all of the sheds were built, some of the workers remained in the area because of a need in McFadden. As later discussed McFadden faded and Rock River's growth stagnated and ultimately decreased. Increased traffic on the railroad lessened and better snow removal equipment lessened the need for the sheds and the last of the sheds were demolished in 1947. The remains of where the forms were remain visible north of town.

Snow shed under construction, Rock River, 1917, Photo by J.E. Simpson.

Site of snow shed plant.

Overturned Privy on Site of snow shed plant.

For more on the winter of 1917 and the Rock River snow sheds, see Pacific Railroad.

Further to the north, now totally gone having burned down, near the intersection with the old Fort Fetterman Road there was a roadside attraction known as "Billy the Kid's" consisting of a ten unit motel, a curio shop and cafe, and a small zoo which displayed among other things a bear, monkey, rattlesnake and raccoons, admission fifty cents.

Billy the Kid's roadside attraction, approx 1958, photo by Sanborn Souvenir Co.

Billy the Kid's today is remembered as the location of a horrific automoble accident on July 3, 1957,Judy Tyler (stage name, actual name Judith Mae Hess) who appeared in the Howdy Doody Children's television program as "Princess Summerfall Winterpring" and her husband Gregory Lafayette were killed. Tyler and her husband were returning to New York after filming a Elvis Presley movie, "Jailhouse Rock," in which Tyler had co-starred and a Perry Mason television program, "The Case of the Fan Dancer's Horse.". Lafayette was driving when a vehicle pulling a trailer pulled out in front of them. Lafayette jammed on the brakes of the couple's 1957 Chevrolet. The car skidded ending up sideways in the northbound lane. There it was struck by a northbound 1954 Cheveolet driven by Paul Reed of Hanna. Tyler was killed instantly. Lafayette died at the Ivenson Hospital in Laramie the next day. Also killed were Tyler's two pets, a poodle and a cat. Reed's passenger Don Jones was also killed instantly. Reed was seriously injured.

Judy Tyler's and Paul Reed's automobiles. July 3, 1957.

In 1959, a twenty-one year old rock n'roll" musician, Kenny Baker, composed and recorded for Orbit Records in Los Angeles, a tribute to Judy Tyler, "Goodbye Little Star,' the background music for this page. Baker because of his age [See The Cash Box magazine, April 25, 1959, "Orbit Records sign three," p.26.] should not be confused with numerous other musicians of the same name.

Next: Rock Creek.