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As hunting season approaches, this writer’s neck begins to swell, he is pawing the ground and is under a permanent restraining order to prevent him from sniffing the air. He also remembers great hunts of past years when he did a lot of bragging about the quality and quantity of big game in south-central Carbon County Wyoming surrounding Saratoga and Encampment. 

An article in the hometown newspaper in 1968 notes:

“When you want trophy mule deer, bear or pronghorn antelope, the upper North Platte Valley is evidently the place to hunt.

“Anyway that seems to be the conclusion a reader would draw from the results of the second annual big game records program competition conducted recently by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“In the mule deer non-typical antlers class, the only two racks to qualify for the record book were harvested in the valley. First went to a set of horns taken by the late Sam Whitney in 1946 near Encampment, and the other was antlers entered by Alfred Hoffman of Mankato, Minn. The Minnesota man harvested his big buck near Saratoga Oct. 6, 1967.

“In the typical antlers category for mule deer, a buck killed on Blackhall Mountain by Richard L. Coose of Encampment placed fourth and a rack taken near here by Burton C. Bliss of Anchorage, Alaska was eighth.

“Big antelope were also harvested in this area. Bob Herbison of Cheyenne entered the fifth largest buck in the contest. The animal was shot north of Saratoga in 1955. The 11th place buck was harvested by Doyle Thompson in Sage Creek Basin Oct. 2, 1967.

“Last season was a record year for bear hunters in this area. The top four skulls entered in the contest came from the surrounding mountains. Don Nichols of Cheyenne killed the biggest bear on Kennaday Peak Oct. 14, 1967. The second place entry was harvested by William D. Behrends of Laramie near Crater Lake Oct. 12, 1967. Linda Serdiuk of Torrington bagged the third biggest bear on Kennaday Peak Oct. 14, 1967, and Joey Pirrung of Mesquite, Tex., shot the fourth place entry June 14, 1967 in the Encampment area.

“A total of 56 big game trophies scored high enough to be eligible for entry in the Boone and Crockett Club’s Record Book of North American Big Game. All of those listed above are now entered in the record book.

“Other valley hunters also made the record book with animals taken outside of the valley. They were Kenneth Swanson who bagged a big antelope south of Wamsutter and Paul Herring of Encampment who harvested a record mule deer Nov. 10 near Kemmerer.”

“Medicine Bow Lodge will be an ideal place for city folks to spend summer outing,” reads a headline in a spring edition of a 1917 issue of the hometown newspaper. 

The article reads:

“Very similar in its appointments and purposes to the ‘dude camps’ or tourist resorts, which are found in various parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, in the vicinity of Yellowstone Park, will be the resort now planned by Sisson and Moore of Saratoga, to be known as Medicine Bow Lodge, which is situated in the Medicine Bow mountains some 18 miles from Saratoga.

“A large part of the timber necessary for construction of the camp has already been gotten out and plans of the various structures are now being prepared. It is expected that the construction contract will be let within the next couple of weeks and work on the buildings will be started just as soon as weather conditions will permit, the plan being to have the place ready for occupancy some time in July.

“The camp will consist of several large log buildings for offices, dining rooms, dancing pavilion, store rooms and various other purposes and 30 or more sleeping tents with floor and walls of lumber, together with other necessary structures which to make up a comfortable and home-like camp for the benefit of the eastern tourist or city dweller who feels ‘the call of the wild’ and looks for a place where he may spend a few days or weeks communing with nature among things primeval, outside the danger zone of automobiles, fire engines and street cars. For those who desire a still less metropolitan outing, the proprietors of the camp will furnish teams and camping outfits, and the city man who is sick and tired of all human companionship may thus journey on into the untracked wilderness and indulge his caveman propensities to his heart’s content.

“Medicine Bow Lodge will fill a long-felt want in this section, and it is a foregone conclusion that it will be largely patronized by people from Denver and other points in northern Colorado, as well as from a large territory in southern Wyoming. No other such resort can be reached by residents of this section without hundreds of miles of travel and but few of even the most celebrated of these camps afford the fine fishing, small game hunting and other sports and pleasures that will be found in close proximity to Medicine Bow Lodge.

“The construction work would have been in operation ere this but for the extremely backward season and the great amount of snow which obstructs all operations in the mountains. However, the work will be done with all possible speed and some of the roads are open and some of the snow out of the way, and the resort will be open for the tourist traffic during the coming summer and fall.”

The Medicine Bow Lodge remains open yet today and continues to cater to those who wish to answer the call of the wild and to spend time communing with nature year-round but especially the spectacular Indian Summer experienced each fall.

Hoards of us strongly believe that rural volunteers could change the world for better if clueless bureaucrats would just allow it – sage advice from a discouraged volunteer and former newspaper publisher, editor, janitor and printer.

An editorial in the Sept. 7, 1916 hometown newspaper outlines what can be accomplished with volunteers who are free to “get the job done.” 

The article reads:

“We are assuming at this time responsibility that is no easy undertaking and that is the praise due to the officials of the Carbon County Fair Association for the Seventh Annual Fair. We have heard so much favor and have been so many times requested to make a special mention of the matter, that we are almost at sea to take the position of thanking them for the people. If we fail, we stand corrected and no back talk.

“The first thing on the program will be to doff your hats every time you meet Secretary Casteel for the next six months. If ever a man undertook an unpleasant, extremely hard and trying task, it was Casteel, when he whirled in to make a county fair this year – short notice, unpaid back premiums, no enthusiasm, no money and worst of all, no heart among the fair people. Under this condition Richmond was elected president and Casteel secretary, and they flew at it. Mr. Casteel worked night and day from that minute on until he left for his Cow Creek Ranch last spring. He never gave up but worked, planned, perspired and out of a conglomeration of mostly nothing brought out the most successful fair this country has ever witnessed.

“Unable to get the necessary help, he used some of his own ranch and office men. He not only did the planning but did more actual hard work than any two men should attempt. He was everywhere, filling a dozen places at once, and through it all he never overlooked a single detail, no matter how small. His judges were chosen with infinite care. He selected everything himself and saw that it was in its place.

“With it all, Mr. Casteel did one of the biggest feats of all in raising the funds to pay the back premiums, which has practically been accomplished. He neglected his entire private business, not only giving his own money but donating his time, which if paid in money could not compensate him for his services, as ingenuity of this kind knows no salary bounds. Not only the association owns him an unpaid debt of never-ending gratitude, but the people of the entire county feel that without this genius the Seventh Annual would have been a flat failure.

“We take this space in behalf of the entertained to thank Mr. Casteel and the officials and individuals who assisted him, fully aware of the feeble attempt to do the occasion justice.”

A news item following the editorial reads: 

“There were so many people here this week during the Fair that we threw up our hands trying to get the names of visitors from the surrounding country. People were here from Laramie, Rawlins, Encampment and other places, and it would take a paper twice this size to chronicle the entire list, but we are safe in the assertion that nearly every person in the valley was here, and we were glad to see them all.”

In our last Postcard, we explored the vast timber belt running south along the Upper North Platte River Valley in south-central Carbon County to North Park Colorado. This week we continue our journey north from near Walden, Colo., back up the valley to what is now I-80 highway.

A promotional article in Feb. 7, 1889 issue of “The Platte Valley LYRE,” the first newspaper in the Saratoga/Encampment area, expounds:

On reaching the North Park line, the Platte timber belt turns to the west and runs along the mountains marking the southern valley limits. In this western course, the belt leaves considerable timber on three creeks, Big Creek, Bear Creek and Little Beaver and fine growth on Big Beaver and Indian creeks. The Indian Creek timber is especially adapted to fencing purposes.

And now is reached the head of the Grand Encampment River, where the timber area is astonishing in its reach and general size of growth. Grand forests clothe this entire mountain region, extending to the head of Elk River and passing onward toward Middle Park. In the vicinity of the Grand Encampment canyon is a growth of yellow pine from which was obtained the material used in the building of the United States military post of Fort Steele.

From the Grand Encampment, the timber belt takes a northerly course, striking first in its new line of travel the head of Cow Creek, where the timber field is wide and ample.

By way of the head of Cow Creek is the road from Saratoga Hot Springs to the summer resort and the trout fishing of Battle Lake, around which lake the pine and spruce growth is also dense.

To the north of Cow Creek is Calf Creek, amid whose forest was lately located the saw mill of B.T. Ryan, the mill now running on Cedar creek on the opposite side of the Platte Valley. Next are reached the two Spring creeks, the most northern of which streams displays a fine timber supply.

With the next stream to the north, Jack Creek, the limit of the timber belt is reached, it here running out in the scattering quaking aspen motifs of the Savary slopes. Jack Creek is a stream of long mountain course, and its timber wealth is vast.

Thus is traced the path of the great timber belt of the Upper Platte region. It is indeed a rich resource. In its unlimited and exhaustless production are included white pine, a timber of excellent lumber character; yellow pine equaling the eastern product; black fir or balsam, valuable for shingles and sheeting; and quaking asp, useful for fencing and firewood.

To all of this extensive and varied timber growth access is convenient and easy. There is not one of all the timber clothed streams mentioned in this article which has not its mountain road hewed into the forest heart and as none of these stream exceeds 20 miles in length, it will be readily seen that the hauling distance is short.

The lumber future of the Platte Valley is great.

Dear loyal readers: In 1889, the area in south-central Carbon County around present day Saratoga and Encampment had been settled for only a few years, and the first newspaper in that area was just a year old. “The Platte Valley LYRE” was established in 1888 and promoted the vast resources of the “Upper North Platte River Valley” to the world.

Enjoy this Feb. 7, 1889 article from the LYRE, but remember the North Platte River originates south of Walden, Colo., flows north to Casper and then runs east through central Wyoming into Nebraska, thus the reference to the “Upper Platte” although the area is “down south.”

Plus, “LYRE” editor and publisher Geo. Caldwell had a reputation for exaggeration and tall tales when it came to promoting his home territory.

The headline and story reads:

Platte Timber – An Encircling Belt 130 Miles Long and 12 Miles Wide

Tributary to the great valley of the Upper Platte is a timber growth which in magnitude, excellence, variety and ease of access, is unsurpassed in the Great West.

This timber growth follows the course of the mountain chains encircling the valley of the Platte and forms a belt 130 miles long by 12 wide. In this belt is included pine, both white and yellow, black fir or balsam, spruce and quaking aspen.

This immense timber belt, like the mountain chains it continuously clothes, is semi-circular in form, in extending from the northern extremity of Medicine Bow range to the Savary Divide.

At its northern starting point, this timber belt clothes the mountain sources of Lake Creek with white pine, black fir or balsam and spruce and the foothills of the same stream with quaking aspen. Thence it runs to the waters of the two branches of Clear Creek. On this stream is located the sawmill of B.T. Ryan, now producing large quantities of excellent lumber.

From Cedar Creek, the belt reaches the splendid growth clothing the heads of the two Brush Creeks. Here, in Brush Creek Park, was located in the early days a Union Pacific tie camp, the output of which was of excellent character. Leaving Brush Creek, the growth passes on south to French Creek. On this stream is located a magnificent timber body – a timber body as yet scarcely touched by the ax. Next comes Mullen Creek, a creek also of vast timber supply.

Beyond Mullen Creek is found Douglas Creek, a stream 30 miles long, with almost every mile closely timber-clothed. On this creek there was also located at one time a Union Pacific tie camp.

Just south of Douglas Creek, are the waters of Willow Branch. This stream heads against a mountain ridge forming the Platte River divide and is distinguished as the starting point of the great yellow pine growth of the Upper Platte region. This yellow pine growth, broad and heavy, runs from Willow Branch to the line of North Park, and from thence far into Colorado. The lumber produced by this yellow pine forest rivals the best eastern article.”... but, then, we will saw those logs the next time we write.