Circle J Ranch event 2016


Harvest Party, City Park in Lander Wyoming! October 1, 9 am - 12 noon
Harvest Party, City Park in Lander Wyoming! October 1, 9 am – 12 noon


A Trip Down Memory Lane in Sheridan plus Buffalo and Two Mountain Passes

By Bill Sniffin

As readers of this column know, I am no fan of the “new” JC Penney Company.

It is my contention that old James Cash Penney (whose first store was right here in Wyoming, in Kemmerer), is spinning in his grave as how his successors have managed to ruin that company.

But I loved the old Penney’s and I took a trip down memory lane at that company’s long-time store on Main Street of Sheridan recently. There, smack in the heart of the town, is an old-fashioned Penney Store, complete with a basement, a half upstairs and, well, the only edifices missing were the pneumatic tubes sending sales tickets flying around the store.

My first Penney store experience was in Oelwein, Iowa, and it was a scene right out of the movie, A Christmas Story. And that store 60 years ago looked just like the one there in Sheridan today.

Here in Lander, when I first came to work at the Journal, one of our biggest advertisers was the JC Penney Store, again, right in the heart of our downtown.  And yes, it had a half upstairs and it had a basement.  I think tubes were still there which would whistle sales tickets from the various cash registers back to the bookkeeping department. Even by today’s standards, these tubes were space age. Amazing.  They provided a way to quickly move information around prior to the age of computers.

On this trip, we took two different scenic drives on our way to and from Sheridan.

First, we traveled to Greybull so we could take US 16 up Shell Canyon and over the mountain. The weather was beautiful and we even stopped and checked out the Dinosaur tracks outside of Shell. Also, took a photo of the canyons there at the Big Horn Mountains that seem to form a “W” and a “Y” — is that there or was I just imagining it?

Near Burgess Junction I ran into Ed Kingston at the Elk View Inn.  First met Ed 15 years ago.  He has done well and aged better than me. The lodge is beautiful. It and Bear Lodge plus a few other lodges make that area a snowmobile and ATV mecca.

We encountered terrible fog descending into Dayton and on our way to Sheridan and settled into a rainy trip.

Bob Grammens and Kim Love had me on the radio for a couple of mornings and that was sure fun. Radio appears to be struggling in some communities, but not Sheridan. Lots going on in that area. Don’t touch that dial!

Although energy is a big deal in the Sheridan area, you would not notice it by how the Main Street feels.  It is certainly lively including a new store started by a 13-year old boy. Amazing.  His name is Luke Knudsen and he started a store called The Old General Store, which features antiques.

Another neat store is the Best Out West store owned by Christy Love, Kim’s sister.

The remodeled Sheridan Inn is a real treat. The old strucure originally built by Buffalo Bill Cody is now a true modern classic.

One of the premier craft breweries in the state is the Black Tooth establishment, which exists in an old auto garage.  Great beer and a great location.

Our trip was designed as loop drive so we headed south to Buffalo and were impressed by how busy the Sports Lure store was there in the main business district. Small towns are lucky to have local-owned stores like it and the Office to cater to local needs.

It is hard not to love Buffalo’s Occidental Hotel. What a beautiful job its owners have done to restore it.

This is the heart of Longmire country but despite looking for them, none of the characters were to be seen on this day. Longmire is the name of a popular TV series based on books by Craig Johnson of Ucross.

While in Buffalo, I also looked for the infamous “Bench Sitters,” made popular by the Sagebrush Sven columns in the Buffalo Bulletin.  It was the wrong time of day to see them, too, I guess.

Heading home, we headed up into the cloudy Big Horn Mountains over Tensleep Pass.  Ran into fog, rain, slush, snow and wind but got through it.  Lots of highway construction on the very top. The flag people were dressed like Eskimos.

Worland and Thermopolis were both quiet on this wet Friday evening, although it was sure tempting to take a dip into a hot thermal pool on a cold, wet shivery night.  But we kept on going.

Got home just as the sun was going down, which was our goal. Hate that driving at night in a storm.

What a great loop drive it was, though. The passes were full of amazing color.  I am sure the rain and snow pretty much wiped out most of those pretty leaves, which impressed us at the time. This all occurred during the fall solstice, which here in Wyoming, truly marks a real change of seasons.





Big Horn Basin Folk Festival – Catch it this August 6-7 in Thermopolis!

WY Public Radio third blockresized 2016 festival ad

click on the image above for a full list of Big Horn Basin Folk Festival Events & Details!

“Hear Me Now” — Wyoming Storytellers Take Spotlight

By Ellen Sue Blakely

Images provided by Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation

For a full schedule of presenters during “Hear Me Now” Storytelling Circle, August 6-7, see Other weekend events include the Gift of the Waters Pageant Days, Kiwanis Craft Fair and the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival, with music performances all day, demonstrators, workshops, food vendors, juried art show & sale and kid-friendly activities.

When we were kids and all the cousins gathered for the annual Fourth of July ice cream and watermelon feast, our great aunt Kate kept all of us in line by expounding on a “haint” she called “Rawhide and bloody bones.” For years, we assumed Aunt Kate had made up this scary haunt of a creature.

It turns out that Kate had borrowed and adapted “Rawhide” from an Irish tale — probably one she had heard as a child from her grandparents who had come from the Emerald Isle. Aunt Kate is long gone; but, to this day, her scary rendition still brings chills and laughter to the now-aging cousins.

That’s the power of story. If you have ever sat around a campfire and told (or listened to) ghost stories or tall tales, you know its spell. Those who study stories as an art form say telling stories is the oldest art form; and from it grew poetry — rhyming was a way of remembering a longer story.

Although there has not been an organized effort at preserving Wyoming’s stories in recent years, our people have always been inveterate storytellers. Mountain men told plenty of whoppers when they gathered at the fur-trading rendezvous. Music and storytelling were common in the Native American tipis, cowboy bunkhouses, farmhand shacks and homestead cabins. It still is. Given half a chance, today’s outfitters, hunters and fishermen will regale listeners with tales about the “ones that got away.”

This year, Wyoming is taking a step to share our long-standing storytelling tradition at “Hear Me Now,” the state’s first organized Storytelling Circle. (The concept of a “storytelling circle” harks back to those days of campfires and tipis.) The event is part of the Big Horn Basin Festival, August 6-7, 2016, in Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis. “Hear Me Now” is sponsored by Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation with a ThinkWyoming grant from the Wyoming Humanities Council. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and Wyoming Arts Council.


“Hear Me Now” will be moderated by Spencer Bohren, nationally known musician and storyteller. Although Bohren now lives in New Orleans, Wyomingites still claim him as their own since he grew up in Casper, and his family still lives and plays music there. Bohren maintains strong ties with the state, presenting educational programs in the schools and public performances in Wyoming communities throughout the year.

Professional storytellers telling tales throughout the day are Michelle King, Basin; Catherine Ringler, Powell; Marilyn Braaten, Thermopolis, and Jennisen Lucas, Cody. The group recently formed the Big Horn Basin Storytelling Guild to promote the art of storytelling.

Echo Klaproth, Shoshoni, former Wyoming poet laureate, and Dick Hall, Thermopolis, cowboy poet, will bring poetry into the tent. Mike Hurwitz, who will be performing at the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival during the weekend, will drop by with his own brand of Western stories. Karl Milner, who specializes in mountain man skills, will add a story or two from the mountain man era. Annie Hatch, Wyoming Arts Council folk arts specialist, will give a bit of historical perspective on the art of Wyoming storytelling. Miss V, sometimes called “The Gypsy Cowbelle,” will talk about her adventures homesteading in Wyoming.

As a special feature, Spencer Bohren will perform his nationally acclaimed “Down the Dirt Road Blues,” 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Sunday, August 7, in the Storytelling Tent. Bohren uses historic music instruments as he tells how one song moved from its African roots to blues to rock and roll.

“Hear Me Now” is free and of interest to all ages. Visitors can “come sit a spell” and — if you are so inclined — you can even add your own tales — true or otherwise — during the open microphone opportunities.

After all, if you don’t tell your favorite story, who will?

WL_Linnell_weaving horsehair


Ellen Sue Blakey of Thermopolis is a textile artist, rug braider, author, musician and occasional storyteller. You can hear and see her story about rug braiding and Depression-era women on youtube. If you attend the Storytelling Circle, look her up, say the magic words “Uncle Charlie”; she may just tell you the story of Charlie, the sheriff’s hat, a blackberry pie, and how he came to Wyoming.


EXPLORE WY: Wind River Country Dances & Pow Wows 2014

Visit our website & read the current issue

Make Your Mother’s Day Special with gifts from Tom Balding Bits & Spurs – in addition to their bits & spurs, they offer jewelry, clothing, scarves, keychains and much more! Click the image for their website!

Photo credit – Jennie Hutchinson

Wyoming’s Wind River Country has released the summer 2014 Native American Dances & Pow Wows schedule! Read on for dates, locations & more – and for the TBA events, stay tuned to their Facebook page and website,

May 2014

2 Riverton – United Tribes Club Spring Social Powwow. 1 p.m. Gourd Dancing (Veterans) 6 p.m. Grand Entry – Central Wyoming College gymnasium, 2660 Peck Ave., 855-2285,
3 Riverton – Native American Day – Dance Competition 2-7 p.m., $10,000 in cash prizes, 10269 HWY 789, 856-1472,
16-17 Ethete – 7 p.m., Wind River Tribal College Powwow, Blue Sky Hall, 506 Ethete Rd., 335-8243

June 2014

3, 10, 17, 24 Riverton – (every Tues.) 6 p.m. Northern Arapaho Cultural Experience, Wind River Casino 10269 HWY 789

18, 25 Lander – (every Wed.) 7 p.m., “Eagle Spirit Dancers,” Museum of The American West, 1445 Main St., 335-8778

TBA Ethete – Yellow Calf Memorial Powwow, Blue Sky Hall, 506 Ethete Rd.

27-29 Ft. Washakie – 55th Eastern Shoshone Indian Days and Powwow – & Rodeo, Wind River Indian Reservation, Old Wind River Hwy Road

July 2014

1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Riverton – (every Tues.) 6 p.m. Northern Arapaho Cultural Experience, Wind River Casino 10269 HWY 789
2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Lander – (every Wed.) 7 p.m., “Eagle Spirit Dancers,” Museum of The American West, 1445 Main St., 335-8778

2 Riverton – 7 p.m. Powwow Dancers, 1838 Rendezvous Site, E. Monroe Ave. 856-0706

TBA Ethete – 7 p.m. Ethete – Annual Ethete Celebration, Ethete Road
TBA Arapahoe – Annual Northern Arapaho Celebration, Wind River Indian Reservation

August 2014

1-2 Thermopolis – 7 p.m. Gift of the Waters Pageant, Hot Springs State Park at the big spring.
5, 12, 19, 26 Riverton – (every Tues.) 6 p.m. Northern Arapaho Cultural Experience, Wind River Casino 10269 HWY 789, 856-1472,
6, 13, 20 Lander – (every Wed.) 7 p.m., “Eagle Spirit Dancers,” Museum of The American West, 1445 Main St., 335-8778

TBA Crowheart – Traditional Community Powwow, (Eastern Shoshone) Wind River Indian Reservation, Old Yellowstone Hwy

September 2014

19 Lander – 71st One Shot Antelope Hunt Powwow, 332-8190



Photo from Billings Gazette story posted on February6, 2010

That’s the only word I can think to describe the scenery I drove through yesterday, and that one word doesn’t hardly do it justice. I left at 5 AM on a journey to Ten Sleep for an interview that will be featured in our new issue of WLM, due out in August — something about having to get up early in the morning, I never sleep well the night before because I am afraid of sleeping through my alarm! So, sleep-deprived and blurry eyed, I began my journey. I was jerked awake though by the sight of so many animals on the drive to Casper! I lost count of how many antelope, deer, rabbits, birds, etc. I saw…it was really something!

I traveled through Casper, to Shoshoni, up to Thermopolis, to Worland, and then over to Ten Sleep. The drive from Thermopolis to Ten Sleep was absolutely incredible — the river was full, the mountains were multi-colored and dotted with greenery…it was simply jaw-dropping. The last time I was up in the area was three years ago, with a car full of girls on our way to a state Job’s Daughters function — they were singing loudly and it was approaching nighttime, and I obviously failed to notice the scenery around me! Yesterday was a different matter: I was able to truly appreciate what I saw around me. It was breathtaking!

After the interview, I enjoyed a shaved ice from Ten Sleep at Sno Shavers — make sure you do NOT say it’s a snow cone, because it’s not! I made the mistake of using that term and was given a demonstration on how the ice is actually shaved — it looks like a spider web of ice, it’s really good! Said hello to some folks and met some new friends — what a neat little town!

I spun through Worland, where I stopped in at the Washakie Museum. WOW!!! Be sure to check out this brand new attraction with your kids! It’s a class act!

I then traveled onto Thermopolis, although FIRST I stopped in Kirby to say hello to the nice folks, Steve & Donna Nally, over at Wyoming Whiskey. They run tours of the distillery and it’s a neat place — definitely worth the stop! Also check out the local restaurant, Butch’s Place, on the way into town — my husband says lunch there is also worth the stop! For Wyoming Whiskey, visit: Butch’s Place is on Facebook! Check them out:

I met the nice folks over at the visitors’ center in Thermopolis as well — what a beautiful town with some great tourist attractions! Be sure to check out their website!

I journeyed back through Shoshoni, where I need some more info on the Yellowstone Drug — are they now Shoshoni Malt? Is this the same place with a new name, or a different place? I’d love some info from WLM fans, please!

Traveled through Casper, where I stopped at my FAVORITE Cold Stone Creamery for some smiles from the girls working — they are an enthusiastic bunch! I tried the Key Lime Pie concoction, which I know has a catchy name that has escaped my brain at the moment…forgive me… At any rate, it was GOOD, and Cold Stone is ALWAYS on my list of favorites in Casper! They’re also on Facebook:!/pages/Casper-WY/Cold-Stone-Casper/120090941356284?ref=ts&ajaxpipe=1&__a=40

Then I made it home, where I nursed my aching head and sore back, but shared my travels with my husband…what a BEAUTIFUL day in Wyoming! Beautiful scenery, friendly people, new friends and fans, and TONS of wildlife…a 17 hour work day never was so much FUN!

‘Til Next Time — I’m loggin’ my miles!

Kati Hime, Editor