Head west of the Twin Cities and you’ll observe a slow transition from pretty citified to committed farming that merges into downright cowboy-ing. The sky gets bigger and the conditions are exponentially more tough. Remnants of the Old West begin to appear in montage – a conversation at a breakfast counter, a ranch’s driveway with cattle barrier and branded overhead sign, chaps-boots-hat, memorabilia in restaurants and watering holes. After a week or so of immersion, these remnants weave themselves together in a more general impression.
It’s fun to be at the stage where each little snippet stands out in high relief on its own – when the novelty of the difference in what you’re generally used to is significant. On our latest trip, I saved a variety of these individual impressions from various sources. Together, these glimpses of the west paint quite a “purty” picture.
Mount Rushmore was named by chance in the 1880s. Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer, was being driven through the Black Hills on the way to a mining investment. Rushmore asked the name of the mountain, and was told it hadn’t any, along with a subsequent offer to name it after him. Rushmore later donated $5,000 towards the carving effort.
The day we visited Mount Rushmore, a new citizen swearing-in was held. The Rapid City Journal published photos with the headline “Proud to be Americans.”
Burros used to carry Custer State Park’s visitors from Sylvan Lake to the summit of Harney Peak. When these rides were discontinued, the burros were allowed free run of the Park. Today, wild individuals in the herd are not shy with visitors.
Overheard at the breakfast counter of the Hilltop Cafe in Valley City, ND: “Arlen, I thank you for the conversation this morning.” “Well, neither one of us resorted to physical violence today, so that’s a plus.”
From the Bozeman (MT) Daily Chronicle, July 20, 2011:
- A property manager was referred to wildlife authorities for a gopher problem.
- An intoxicated 21-year-old man got disoriented when heading to the outhouse at the Greek Creek campground around 2:30 a.m. He tried to get into someone else’s tent and the father of the family of four fired a warning shot to get the man to leave. When the man didn’t leave the father punched the drunken man in the mouth. When the 21-year-old’s friends noticed him missing, they started yelling for him. He heard them and went back to his own campsite.
- G—– enjoyed horses throughout his life; from his early childhood years of farming with horses to later owning and racing racehorses. His retirement years were spent mainly in his pickup. Most days, armed with a Pepsi and a candy bar, he would drive miles in search of the best poker game in town.
- R—- was raised and attended schools in Livingston. He worked summers at Yellowstone National Park, and had the di’stink’tion of working in the business of Huppert & Cantwell, Manure Merchants.
“Lee” is the name given to the latest tyrannosaurus rex discovered on the ranch of Lee Brown, the landowner on whose ranch Tate crews have been digging for six years. At first, Brown didn’t believe the creature in the rock was a T. rex. “All they seem to find is hadrosaur. I’m sick of hadrosaur,” Brown said.
Interesting names: Buffalo Jump, MT; Ten Sleep, WY. Downhome small towns: Spearfish, SD; Hot Springs, SD – average temperature 64 degrees F; Casper and Sundance, WY; Lewiston, MT. More hardscrabble: Interior, SD; Gallatin Gateway, MT (pretty close to Bozeman for more excitement).
- Why Did My Teacher Make Me Read Giants in the Earth? (passingthru.com)