A Museum, a Park, and a Couple Hikes

Buffalo, WY

The last few days have been busy ones here in Buffalo.  One day the temperatures were up in the nineties, so we spent the afternoon touring the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo.

Jim Gatchell opened a drugstore on Main Street in Buffalo in 1900. The Buffalo Pharmacy was a stopping place for cowboys, lawmen, settlers, cattle barons, and famous army scouts. As a trusted friend of the region’s Native Americans, he received many gifts representing the culture including guns, war bonnets, tools, medicine bags, bows, arrows, and clothing. Soon local residents were donating mementos of Johnson County’s historic names, places, and events.  After Gatchell’s death in 1954, his family generously donated his collection to the people of Johnson County with the provision that a museum be built to house it.

Today the museum is made up of three connected buildings.  The main section is in an old Carnegie Library building.  It is one of the 1,679 libraries philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built across the United States between 1886 and 1919 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  Due to the requirements of the National Register, when the building was added to the museum, the Johnson County Library sign was retained.

The museum asks that no photographs be taken out of respect for families who have donated some items, but we did take a couple of photos that did not seem to be disrespectful.   One item of interest is a crushed bugle found on the nearby Fetterman Battlefield.  In 1868 80 soldiers were lured into a trap by Indians and all were killed.  The bodies of the soldiers were mutilated except that of the bugler, Adolph Metzger, whose corpse was covered with a buffalo robe, believed to be a sign of respect for his courage. Mutilating the bodies of their dead foes was an Indian custom ensuring, according to their religion, that their enemies were unable to enjoy the physical pleasures of an afterlife.

We also took a picture of a diorama depicting the Wagon Box Fight, which took place almost a year after the Fetterman Battle.  If interested in these two conflicts, check out our blog from a visit we made to the sites a couple of weeks ago (click here).

The next day we drove about ten miles northwest of town for a hike up to Firebox Park.  The trail begins near the Bud Love Wildlife Game Preserve and goes up a canyon following Sayles Creek.

Trailhead to Firebox Park

Heading toward the canyon (the “V” in the hills)

The trail crosses the creek three times before heading steeply up the canyon.

As we continued up the steep path the plains to the east came into view.

After hiking up through the canyon we came to a wide open meadow.  Continuing across the meadow, through another section of forest, and up into a second meadow we came to a crest above Firebox Park.

At the crest we sat on some rocks to enjoy lunch before returning back down the trail.

Lunch with a View

The view to the east as we hiked back down

On Sunday we drove north to the city of Sheridan to visit two city parks, Whitney Commons and Kendrick Park.  Whitney Commons is a small park just off the main shopping area.  It is supported by funds from Whitney Benefits, a foundation established in 1927 to manage funds from the estate of Edwin Whitney, a founding father of the city of Sheridan.  The park is home to a number of interesting sculptures.

“Cool Water”

“Mr. Whitney”

Just a short walk from the Commons is a bridge over Big Goose Creek leading to Kendrick Park.  The park has a number of interesting wood carvings made from tree stumps.

One of the carvings is right next to an ice cream stand.

Today (Monday) we drove up into the Bighorn Mountains for a visit to the Elgin Park Trailhead.  The area has a number of great boondocking locations (free – 14 day limit) and is a popular place for horseback riding, 4-wheeling, and hiking.

We hiked down a 4-wheeler trail for about 2.5 miles, stopped for lunch while enjoying a view of the mountains, and returned.

Lunch with a view

Returning to Buffalo we stopped at a gas station but had a bit of trouble getting around the building to the pumps.

A large wooly mammoth tusk?

No, it’s a blade for a windmill!

With a week left in Buffalo we still have a few hikes on our agenda.  More on that later . . .

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13 Responses to A Museum, a Park, and a Couple Hikes

  1. Gay says:

    I love your hikes…so green and pretty! Creek crossings and lunch with a view are the best!

    The wood carvings are cool!

  2. pmbweaver says:

    I’ll bet that was an awesome museum. Just the one photo has my interest. I know, Pam, maybe not so exciting for you…hehe
    I would absolutely love that hike!
    Great carvings…yes, to the ice cream one.
    What is the world is that truck doing? Why didn’t it fill up before it loaded the blade. Good grief!

  3. Jim and Barb says:

    The more I read your posts from that area the more I want to go. I love the history from the late 1800’s/early 1900’s!

  4. Debbie L says:

    You are giving me so much to look forward to one day when I get back to my birth state! You had me going with the mammoth tusk! Lol glad you found out what it was.
    I guess there has been a real heat wave this summer!

  5. Laurel says:

    Haha, mammoth tusk! I’m glad you cleared that up. I’d still be wondering. 🙂 You guys are finding all kinds of interesting things to do. Love the variety—that’s exactly our style of travel. First time I’ve ever seen a chainsaw carving of a saxophone (I’m assuming those are chainsaw carvings…). And a photo of lupine! Awesome!!

  6. I think that mammoth tusk came all the way from Kansas!
    Those wood carvings reminded me of Galveston, TX.
    That Indian custom that you describe and what I saw on Western movies when I was young stuck to my head. It is still in my head and 🙂 just ask Steve.

  7. Larry says:

    Hard to believe how big those blades are until up close to one.

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    We really have to spend at least a couple days here on our way back from Montana – you’re finding some wonderful spots!! I can only imagine what that bugler must have done in battle to warrant such an honor from his enemies. Great story, glad you shared that one! Your lunch stops are always so beautiful – what a grand life 🙂

  9. Sue says:

    And we think we have trouble finding fuel stations big enough for our rigs to enter and exit comfortably! Love the statues, bronze and wood. So….did you stop at that ice cream statue?

    You’re finding lots of interesting things along the way, there is so much to see in this beautiful country and it isn’t all in National Parks!

  10. LuAnn says:

    I didn’t realize there was so much to do in the area. I had forgotten just how beautiful MT and WY are. Love the lupine and all those statues, both bronze and the carvings.

  11. Nancy says:

    The wooden carvings were great! We just saw some in Corry, Pa. Today! Someone carved BigFoot! Whoa!
    I loved the phot of the purple flowers. The perspective made everything pop beautifully.
    And TWO lunches with a view! What a treat!

  12. Sherry says:

    I’ve never even heard of Buffalo Wyoming until visiting with you. Love the carvings especially the ice cream cone. Nice lunch views. We saw several of those turbines going down the highway when we were west but never in a gas station. Sure glad we haven’t run into one there when we tried to get in with Winnona. Since she’s gas it’s always a problem since the bays are set up for cars not trucks.

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    More great hikes. I like the idea of carving the stumps. Have also seen a wind turbine blade going down the road and wondered how it cornered.

    I’m so far behind on your journey but trying to catch up.

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