Casper Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: The Founding of Casper, J. M. Carey and the CY Ranch.



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Center Street at Second St., looking south, Casper, May 17, 1907. Grand Central Hotel on right.

Ah, Spring time in the Rockies! Actually, not all that unusual, but nevertheless, the weather in the Casper area has been a topic of discussion since at least 1865.


Platte River Bridge at Fort Caspar.

The 1865 diary of a Civil War soldier, Elijah Nelson Doughty, on patrol and camping in the Platte River Valley near present day Casper contains the following entries:

April 19: Snowing, in camp as usual. We have eat our breakfast. Have tied our horses out in the brush to browse and shelter from the storms of this country. It is now getting late and we have brought in our horses to feed and groom them. We have eat some hard tack and bacon and will soon crawl in our tents to shelter us from the miserable snow storms of this country.

April 20: Got up to roll call and found it still snowing. It has now been snowing for the last forty eight hours and no prospects of quiting anyways soon. We have tied our horses in the brush as yesterday. Have eat our breakfast and are now setting around our fires trying to keep warm. It is now getting late and the snow fall as usual. Six of our boys started on a three days hunt this morning.

April 21: Still snowing. One man killed and another wounded by the Indians 12 miles from here while carrying the mail from here to [Fort] Laramie. The Indians were repulsed by six soldiers. The Indians numbered twenty or more.

April 29: Remaining in camp. The weather has the appearance of spring. The grass begins to grow slowly and has the appearance of summer.

May 2: The weather remains like summer. The boys are swimming Deer creek [Webmaster's note: This would place the camp at present day Glenrock, about 26 miles east of present day Casper. See photos of Glenrock at bottom of page.]. The water cold as snow. We have guard mount drill once a day. The boys makes a skift out of a beef hide and quite a number of the boys has been ducked by the use of their new skift.

May 4: A.D. 1865: Warmer yet today and lazy weather for shaved heads. Our boys who was left at Riley came up with the mail party except a few to wit: B. F. Norton, W. H. Norton, N. H. Norton, Grerry W. C. Haselwood, S. Barker, J. A. Norton and James Hames. The above named soldiers will be discharged. the water still keeps up.

May 5: This morning a detachment of thirty men from each Co., of the Regt. starts to Powder river on a ten day scout to break up some Indian villages which are said to be out there. It snows and rained here last night and consequently the weather is quite cold today.

May 9: Snowed last night and is still snowing. We have eat our grub and again taken refuge in our poor though quite comfortable tents considered by us at this late hour. It is now night and the snow has fallen all day and looks like winter.

May 10: The sun shines out brilliant this morning, again assumes the appearance of summer. The grass went up the spout last night you bet. The snow is fast melting this nice morning.


Fort Caspar, artist unidentified.

As suggested in the diary entries, problems with the Indians were beginning to come to a head. As related on the discussion of Indian Wars, later in 1865 the Fetterman massacre occurred with the subsequent withdrawal of military forces from Fort Kearney. In the area of present day Casper the problem with Indians also arose. With the Treaty of Fort Laramie, Fort Caspar was abandoned.


Casper, 1907

In the 1880's the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, under the leadership of its general manager, Marvin Hughitt, began a vigorous expansion of its system. A subsidiary, the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad Company, began pushing westward through the Dakotas and Nebraska heading for the Black Hills. By 1885 it had reached Chadron, Nebraska. In Wyoming, the railroad pushed along the Niobrara River in search of coal near present day Shawnee. With the expansion of the cattle industry, Hughitt determined that the western terminus should be on the north bank of the North Platte west of Fort Fetterman. This would provide a convenient terminal for the loading of cattle from the great ranches in Powder River country.


C Y Ranch, undated

Railroads in the 1880's were as much a real estate venture as they were a transportation companies. Each railroad had a subsidiary which as the railroads were constructed laid out townsites and sold lots. In the instance of the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley, the real estate subsidiary was the Pioneer Townsite Company. Thus, it became imparative that the terminus be located in an area where a good fee simple title could be obtained. An examination of real estate records indicated that the only area on the north bank of the Platte where good title had been obtained was the C Y Ranch owned by J. M. Carey and Brother. Thus, two quarter sections were purchased from Carey as the site for the new town. The railroad arrived in 1888 and the town laid out.


Brands of Carey and Bro..

Although, prior to the Indian Wars, the future site of Casper had been the site of Fort Caspar and the site of a bridge crossing the Platte River, with withdrawal of the army the area was abandoned until the coming of the C Y Ranch. The bridge had disappeared and all that was left by the 1880's were rocks where once had stood the supports for the bridge. Thus, Casper as a city dates to 1888 when the railroad arrived. The spelling was as a result of an error when the post office was established. The earlier Platte River Bridge was built by Louis Guinard in 1859-1860 and replaced an earlier bridge down stream which had washed away. The bridge was 810 feet long and was supported by 28 wooden cribbens. Total cost of the bridge was approximately $40,000. Tolls, depending on the flood stage, varied from $1.00 to $6.00 per wagon. Before the construction of the bridge the area was the site of several ferrys, including the Mormon Ferry. The ferry was guided across the river on a cable. The ferrymen could by varying the angle of the craft cause the river current to propel the vessel across the river in either direction.

The CY dated to 1876 when Joseph Maull Carey (1845-1924) trailed 12,000 head of cattle up from Austin, Texas. CY Avenue in Casper is named after the ranch. J. M. Carey came to Wyoming upon his appointment as District Attorney by President Grant in recognition of his services in Grant's presidential campaign. Subsequently he became an associate justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court. He thereafter retained the title of "judge" throughout the rest of his life notwithstanding his election as United States senator as a Republican in 1890 and governor as a Democrat in 1911. He also was one of the organizers of T. Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912. Judge Carey also served as mayor of Cheyenne, territorial delegate to Congress and was the author of the bill granting statehood to the territory. During the debate over statehood he claimed that Wyoming had a population of over 110,000. The population estimate was able to persuade the winning margin for the bill in the House of Representatives. The following year the U. S. census revealed that the actual population was somewhat less--62,555.

Judge Carey was a founder of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Cheyenne Club. Ultimately, he turned management of the family business, J. M. Carey and Brother Cattle Growers, over to his son Robert D. Carey (1878-1937) who followed in his father's footsteps serving also as both governor and United States Senator

Casper Photos continued on next page.