One of the main reasons we are here is to go to the National Historic Trail Interpretive Center.
Between 1840 and 1870, nearly 500,000 people traveled the Oregon, Mormon, California and Pony Express Trails. All of those trails came thru what is now known as Casper. The main reason for this was the discovery of the South Pass route over the Rocky Mountains.
What is amazing is that most of these folks walked – many of them carrying or pushing their own handcarts – and in spite of disease, drowning and other accident, 94 percent of the pioneers arrived at their destinations! WOW!
There is a lot of info here: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/nlcs/Historic_Trails/trails_tour.html
The entrance to the museum (Pony Express – a handoff of the mail):
At the entrance, a little info on each of the trails:
When we walked into the center, a nice young man oriented us on how to see the museum. This was in the center and every half hour, there was a film about the trails and the people that took these trails:
Behind this diorama were seven rooms:
The Ways of the People – about the Native Americans;
The U.S. Looks West – mostly about the traders and scouts;
The trails: Oregon, Mormon, California – about the people who traveled, why and what they needed to do;
The Pony Express – speaks for itself; and
The End of the Trail Era.
All of this overlapped each other:
This could be said of many of us today:
This was from a simulated wagon ride crossing the river – we had fun!:
This was true of all of the trails – there were many folks who died because they did not leave at the correct time:
How about this!:
We both tried pushing/pulling this handcart. WOW! Doing this for over 1000 miles had to exhausting:
Help Wanted Ad for the Pony Express Riders. I wonder why they preferred orphans:
The end of the Trail Era:
“If you have ever thought about throwing your possessions into the back of your car and heading out for parts unknown, you already know the feeling that propelled hundreds of thousands of emigrants westward in the 19th century.”
Yes, I know why they went!
We had a nice conversation on the patio with the young man who initially showed us around. It was his first week working here and he told us about a number of places to see in the area. What a great museum!
We had lunch at a nice little city park on our way to our next stop. There are so many nice city parks in this area of the country – I am impressed!
Our next stop was the Tate Geological Museum (part of Casper College) where we met Dee the Mammoth:
Poor Dee lived with a broken tusk:
And even more scarier:
T-Rex’s eyes are really red Christmas balls with a pupil painted on it – :
Even though the museum is small, they have a lot of interesting displays on the fossils and minerals found in Wyoming.
The best part was meeting one of the preparers. She was working on one of the fossils found north of town.
Here is what she was working on:
If you look real close, you can see the horns and nose horn. There is a part of the collar bone too. She told us that the found the complete skull and collar, however, the collar was in three pieces.
We spent some time talking with her about the many finds just in this area. Many are on the surface – as the grounds are eroding, they are finding more and more. They just found a T-Rex skeleton – all but the head. She told us that the head was eroded away.
Many of the finds are on private property. If they are on the surface, the property owners have the right of ownership, however, most of them donate these finds to the museum for all to enjoy.
Another wonderful museum.
What a great day!