Fist Fighting Bear River Tom Smith

Riots break out in small settlement of Bear River City Wyoming, southwest of Evanston, after the lynching of a murder suspect November 19, 1868. The two factions, the vigilantes that hung the suspect and the local friends and family of the hanged man start brawling and gun fighting in the streets and the hastily strewn together building that dotted the town. The ensuing violence claimed the life of 16 people and torched most of the town quenching whatever hope of future prosperity for the young community, until the courageous act of one man, Town Marshal Tom Smithresidence_of_ben_hampton2c_bear_river_stage_station2c_utah2c_by_savage_26_ottinger held off the fighting parties unarmed until forces could arrive from Fort Bridger enacting marshal law effectively quelling the violence.

Little is known about Smith before the Riots that made the ghost town of Bear River City Famous except that he was from New York where he served as a New York City police officer until the accidental shooting of a 14 year old boy caused him to resign. After his resignation from the New York Police it is reported that smith signed on with various railroads bringing him to Wyoming and his run in with fate creating the legend of Bear River Tom. One thing about Smith is known as fact, he was known as fearless in the face of danger throughout his career. Described in one occasion in Abilene Kansas Smith, again unarmed, overpowered two armed men known for their bad temperaments, Big Hank Hawkins and his Partner Wyoming Frank. Smith drove both of the men from town and furthermore implemented a no gun policy in Abilene, driving the local cowboys in the area to attempt assassinating Smith on more than one incident. After a few months of work making solid arrests and treating local citizens fairly, Smith developed a phenomenal relationship with the people of Abilene as far to say they admired the man.

Being Abilene Kansas is a slight bit out of the territory of this blog I will end the story here, Smith continued to be the local Marshal even earning a promotion to US marshal before his death in the line of duty November 2, 1870. Smith is Buried in Abilene with a large monument erected at his grave site. As far as The Great Divide region is concerned I think the story of Tom Smith says a lot of the fortitude of the men and women that founded the towns and cities that we now live and work in. The places we know now were once upon a time a real life “Hell On Wheels”.


Footsteps To Independence

    In October of 1812 along the banks of the Sweetwater River, an oasis in Wyoming arid landscape, the Robert Stuart Expedition while carving out the route that would become the Oregon Trail stumbled upon an extraordinarydsc07087 monument, a large granite outcropping that by 1830 would be know as Independence Rock and serve as the most anticipated land mark on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. One journal entry from the journal of Rachael Emma and Wooley Simmons, part of the Brigham Young Party in the summer of 1848, states.

     “We heard so much of Independence Rock long before we got there. They said we should have a dance on top of it, as we had many a dance while on the plains. We thought it would be so nice, but when we got there, the company was so small it was given up. We nooned at this place, but Father staid long enough for us children to go all over it. I went with the boys and with Catherine. It is an immense rock with holes and crevices where the water is dripping cool and sparkling. We saw a great many names of persons that had been cut in the rock, but we were so disappointed in not having a dance. Our company was so small, and we had not a note of music or a musician. I was told afterwards by some of the girls that we had traveled with that they had a party there, but President Young had all the music with him” 

     A visitor today can still walk around and on top the rock to read the names carved in the granite monument. There is even a rest area, a luxury not available to previous generations!! Of coarse time and the harsh winter and spring weather has taken its toll on the rock over patrick-family-vacation-2010-names-on-the-rockthe last 160-170 years but many names are still visible, I even found a party that visited the rock in 1850 with the same last name as me. I can only imagine what the rock must have looked like when the carvings were fresh. There must have been thousands as there was hundreds of thousands that passed by on their way westward. Although the trail that meanders westward mostly is lost to the prairie wind, advancements in civilization and the American highway system, there are still many spots along the Emigrant Trail that clearly have almost pristine wagon tracks impressed in the ground. Just a few miles down the road is Devil’s Gate and there a visitor can see almost the exact same trail carved in the dirt that was traveled on by nearly half a million Americans, but no place on along the any of the trail systems in the country captures the spirit of the pioneer and the American West like Independence Rock.

     Pioneers embarking on their journey to the west would often time their journey so that the spring grass for livestock would be sufficient along the entire route and to avoid pulling a Donner party in the mountains leading to the California and Oregon territories. In order to accomplish this one must be at Independence Rock no later than July 4th, one can imagine the congestion that ensued on what was no more than a two track and the celebrations that must have been held in times past at the Monument. Independence Rock is every bit as great a place to stop and stretch your legs today as it must have been in the 1850’s. So enjoy your visit but remember, Independence Rock is located on a state park so the rules must be followed.independence20rock2c20wy202007-06-172019-17-26

  • No defacing or writing on the rock.
  • No gathering of artifacts (anything found must be left there or turned over to State Park personnel on site.)
  • Metal detectors are not allowed.
  • The discharge of firearms and fireworks is prohibited.
  • Vehicle parking in designated areas only.
  • Dogs, cats and other pets must be kept on a leash.
  • No killing of wildlife, including rattlesnakes.
  • Please pack out your own trash.
  • Overnight camping by Special Use permit only.


Great Divide Photo Contest

Seeing how we are just getting started around here I thought it might be a good idea to host a photo contest. Lets see some pictures of your favorite places, businesses, people, attractions or activities in the Great Divide Region!!!


  1. Photos must be appropriate, we are all adults here so you know what I mean.
  2. Photos must be of the Great Divide and Rocky Mountain region of the United States.
  3. Photos must contain a short caption with description and approximate location.
  4. That’s it!!! Hit the contact button in the menu above and email the pictures to Jon.
  5. Photo contest ends April 31st at Midnight.

All Photos will be posted on its own page in the menu for readers to see and comment on. Winners photo will be the page photo for the month of May as well as being featured in an upcoming blog post about the subject of the photo. No worries if it is somewhere we have never been we will just have to take a trip, after all summer is coming!!!


4 Reasons To Fish The High Country As Early As Possible

     The season is almost upon us, if the headline caught your attention, you know the season I refer too. The time when the snow begins to melt out of the high country.  While the access might be questionable at best and the weather can make it dangerous if you are not prepared, the rewards for new fisherman are enough to keep them on the hook for a lifetime.



  • Access Is Limited So Will Be The People

     While the access and egress to remote locations held in the Great Divide region can be dangerous if not prepared, this also means that the people looking to take their entire families fishing, hiking and camping like it’s the 4th of July haven’t even put in for the time off work yet. With the focus still on school sports and graduations this leaves those great wide open spaces even more open for solitude. My last early season trip was met with not one soul except for my roommate and my trusty tag along dog. He goes everywhere.  

  • The Fishing Is Easy So New Anglers Will Be Met With Success Easily

6    With a world full of social distractions, you’re on one, it seems that less and less young men and women are taking up the sport of fishing. While the interweb is full of how-to’s and what flies to use and what hatches when, it seems there is not a lot info on how to get started. I am not of the belief that fly fishing is the only way to truly fish the high country lakes and streams, if we can meet new anglers with success early on in their fishing career more of them will naturally progress towards fly fishing and become more successful in the long run. So grab a handful of whatever spinner you fancy of assorted sizes and brands, grab and ultralight rod and reel and get fishing.  An entry level rod reel and enough tackle to last the weekend can easily be had for about 100 bucks. Try doing that with flies, rod, reel, line and other necessities and see how your pocket book feels. Not to mention give someone who has no idea how to cast a fly rod and see how many fish they catch in the often tight casting locations that abound in the high country.

  • Late Spring And Early Summer Are The Best Times To Fish Remote Lake

     Early in the year the streams will run pretty high with snow melt making them harder to fish than later in the season.4 The good news is that the alpine lakes with have a great supply of fresh cold water and food that make the trout in these lakes much more aggressive and active than later in the season. So if your first trip for the year after high country trout is early in the season while some snow is still in the higher elevations, leave the streams be for the time being and hit the lakes. The fish will be larger easier to catch and make for a great feast once back at camp. Just make sure to pack a little salt and lemon pepper!

  • The Scenery Will Be At Its Peak

There is no doubt that the high countries scenery is at it pinnacle during the first part of the season. With the ample water it makes the green scenery greener and with cooler weather than with that found later in the season the mosquitoes haven’t quite hatched yet 3allowing you to concentrate on the scenery and the phenomenal fishing that goes with it. So as soon as the weather turns, get out there. Enjoy what awaits in Great Divide. 



It is very important to ensure that you are prepared for whatever adventure awaits you. The high country streams can be very dangerous running high with snow run off. Do not wade in streams. Be sure to check with local ranger stations for any permits needed, for access information, and follow all game and fish regulations. Have fun.


J’s Pub & Grill

Casper Wyoming




When the weather is cold and spring hasn’t quite sprung, one of the best ways to stay warm and enjoy a night out of the house is grab some hot food and a pint.

J’s Pub & Grill serving Casper Wyoming is an absolute hot spot in this town.  Located on the west side of town in a new, clean and cozy building, J’s is very inviting. The prices are reasonable, the food is great, the beer is cold, the atmosphere is fantastic and it is an experience unlike anything available in the area.

Pros: Great food and service, very central location for the west side of town. If you are from out of town it is local to everything you need to get you back on your way.

Cons: Parking can be somewhat of a challenge around supper time, lunch is no big deal most days. But don’t let the full parking lot and the 15-20 minute wait for a table fool you, J’s is the best eats this side of the Platte.