Big Horn Basin


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This page: Worland continued.

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Table of Contents
About This Site

Big Horn Avenue, Worland, looking west, 1911.

The pedestrians are crossing the street on the new concrete crosswalk installed in September, 1911. Mud in the streets was a continual problem. The Grit as late as 1927 complained that the mud in Big Horn Avenue was a foot thick. The Rupp's Busy Corner is the one-story building on the right. Down the street on the north side (right hand side of photo) were Herards Pharmacy and Jewelry, Russell Hardware, Hake Hardware, J. R. May's Dry Goods. The railroad depot is at the very end of the street on the right. On the opposite side of the street were the Stockgrowers Bank, the First National Bank (the first two not visible in photo), Worland Mercantile Co., E. M Conantran's clothing store, Mrs. M.C. Howell's Ladies' Furnishings. If undertaking services were required, instructions were left at Hake Hardware. Later, M. G. Wild opened a combination funeral parlor and piano and furniture store. Additionally, the Worland Furniture and Undertaking Company also provided arrangements.

Worland depot, undated

First Locomotive into Worland, July, 1906

Notwithstanding the first arrival of a train in July 1906, the Worldand Grit on February 14, 1907, felt, perhaps tongue in cheek, that it was newsworthy that several times during the previous week the passenger train arrived on the day that it was due. Other than by train, transportation into the town remained problematical. At first getting to the east side of the river was either by a ferry or a foot bridge. In October, 1906, the Grit reported that the ferry was opened. The ferry, however, did not operate in the winter or when there was high water. Thus before the ice was solid, crossing the river was an adventure. In August, 1908, as an example, Herb Horel's team drowned when he attempted to ford his rig across the river. Horel (1878-1959) came to Wyoming about 1902 as a trapper. Later he became a stockman and county commissioner.

In Febuary, 1908, the Masonic Lodge was instituted and the following month the Odd Fellows Lodge was formed. The following year, efforts were made to organize a Brotherhood of American Yeomen lodge. By 1909, a bridge was opened over the river. The same year, surveying for a proposed road to Ten Sleep began. The Road eastward across the Big Horns, however, was not completed until 1922 and was not made "all weather" Roads remained to a great extent a community affair with an annual "Good Roads Day" at which citzens with shovels would work on the roads. The State Prison would also loan prisoners to work on the roads. One was George Sabin convicted for his part in the Spring Creek Raid. He escaped but the guard did not report him missing for some 17 hours.

Electricity did not arrive until 1913. But the power company was only operated at night. In 1914, the electric plant exploded and burned down. Thus, the company relied on the alfalfa mill to provide electricity. The arrangement proved not to be satisfactory. In 1916, the power company sued the alfalfa mill to force it to continue to sell electricity. The court ruled that it could not force the alfalfa mill to fire up its boilers to provide steam to the electric company. The result was that the manager of the electic company moved to Texas. The theatre put in its own generator so that movies could be shown on Tuesday and Friday nights. By August, 1916, a new owner of the electric company ordered new equipment. By 1917, the electricity was turned on during the daytime Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon to permit use of electric irons. But even as late as 1921 electricity was generally available only from dark until midnight. Day service was available only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at 7:00 a.m.

Worland Schools, approx. 1910.

In 1920, an airplane flew over the City. By 1927 plans were announced for regular air service when Big Horn Airways acquired its first plane. Plans were made to clear the runway of sagebrush.

Aerial view of Worland, looking southeast.
In 1913, there was hope that the town would be on the route of the newly proposed Black and Yellow Trail, later to become U.S. 16, running from Chicago to Yellowstone National Park. However, the road east to Buffalo was not opened until 1922. Even then, the road was closed in the winter and the 28 miles of road to Ten Sleep was not catagorized as "all weather" until 1933. In the meantime, roads remained abysmal. As an example, in 1922 the road to the cemetery washed out, prompting R. F. Hutchinson of the Worland Furniture and Undertaking Company to advise everyone to put off dying until the road could be fixed. Only four years before, the editor of the Grit had waxed eloquently that the furniture company's new Cadillac funeral car was "one more of the modern conveniences that are rapidly giving Worland the distinction of being the most up-to-date city."

Worland-Ten Sleep Highway, 1920's.

The condition of the main highways into the Basin was less than glorious. Henry S. Curtis in his 1918 Recreation for Teachers or the Teacher's Leisure Time recounts from the 1917 diary of two high school teachers and two instructors from the University of Colorado as they took the drive to Yellowstone. What now takes one day then took six days.

Wednesday, August 8th.

Roads pretty good to Casper. Took wrong road and run into mud at river; took cross-cut and got stuck in sand, but girls pushed me out. Met many pack trains of mules, and in giving them the road went hub deep in sand. Oil field interesting; derricks and little white puffs of smoke everywhere. In the afternoon got stuck on sand hill. After abandoning our skirs and pushing until tired, we waited until another Ford came along and was stuck. We helped them out and they helped us. They followed us to Powder River and bade us good-by there, as they were afraid to travel at night, and we liked it better than daytime. As the night was cold, we unrolled our bedding, wrapping it around us, and road late into the night until we were stuck in the sand. Spend night in Hell's Half Acre. Not half bad, as sand is very soft for a bed.

Thursday, August 9th.

Made Lost Cabin by noon and started to Ten Sleep, avoiding Thermopolis because of bad roads. Camper, as we had named our car, jumped the track here and almost spilled me down a mountain side. The girls were walking the grade, as the engine was not working well. Took only five gallons of gas at little station, as it was forty cents per gallon, and after a good dinner started across Bad Lands on a forty-five mile drive to Ten Sleep. On making mountain, the car was so tipped that the gas couldn't run into the carburetor. [Note: Fords at the time used gravity feed rather than a fuel pump. At times when going up a steep hill in a Ford, it literally might be necessary to back up the hill so as to keep the fuel tank higher than the carburetor.] I was afraid to back down, as our brakes were poor. While we were talking an old bull, dripping at the mouth, came bellowing up the mountain. * * * * [W]e jumped into the car, put up the curtains, grabbed axe, shovel, and butcher knife, and steering-wheel, and waited for the onslaught of the bull. He came up near the car, stopped, bellowed at us, turned as though to butt us down the mountain, changed his mind, and went away bellowing. That was the first time I ever wanted a gun. Rode late that night, until car got so hot it wouldn't run. As we were on the side of a steep mountain, and wind and sleet were blowing strongly, we sat up all night. Off in the distance coyotes and wolves begain to howl. Nearer and nearer they came. My companions were frightened for the first and last time on the trip.

Friday, August 10th.

Next morning, we coasted thirteen miles into Ten Sleep, and found that our radiator hose had broken and radiator leaked. The road to Hyattville was terrible; made twenty miles in three hours. Here we met a tourist from the Park who tried to discourage us from going farther; but we were having a grand time and enjoying our troubles immensely. Arrived at Basin in the evening, and slept about eleven miles out in spite of rain and wind.

Highway near Basin c.1920.

Next page, Worland continued.