Today we wanted a short trip that turned out to be about 160 miles round trip. The town of Chugwater beckoned because of the odd name. Though Chugwater is just off I-25 north of Cheyenne we opted to explore a back road, the Horsecreek Rd. becoming the Iron Mountain Rd. It was fairly desolate, with only a few ranches here and there. We were traveling through the Laramie Mountains, elevation up to 6400, a little higher than Cheyenne. Here is a ghost ranch with only the outbuildings still standing. I imagine the house was in the grove of trees to the left. I wonder what caused it to be abandoned?
The town of Chugwater has a population of 244 and the elevation is 5288 feet. We were greeted by this ruined grain elevator next to the railroad track.
The whole town had an air of days gone by. I'm sure this bank is an old original from long ago, still being used.
This is the same story the old codger told us, but copied from Wikipedia.
Some historians hold that the name "Chugwater" is derived from a Mandan account of a bison hunt. According to this narrative, a chief was disabled during the hunt and his son took charge of the hunt or "buffalo jump". Under his direction, hunters drove the bison over nearby cliffs; when the animals reached the ground below, a sound of "chugging" was heard by the hunters. The story concludes with an etymology: since a stream was near the base of the cliffs, the site of the stampede has been called "the place" or "water at the place where the buffalo chug." Could these cliffs be where this awful massacre happened? Or some like them nearby? There is a creek running through the area, as shown by the trees in the photo. I don't like the story, would much rather it had been about some thirsty pioneers or ranchers. But that's how it was.
We saw many of these lovely wildflowers along the way, growing in the sandy hillsides. The last time I saw these I was in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I was able to find them on my iPad app, "The Audubon Guide". They are White Prickly Poppies. The flowers are definitely poppy-like, and the greenery is like a thistle. They are safe from roaming cattle and pronghorns because of the stickers!
We traveled home the same way we had come, to see the land from the opposite direction. We came across this tiny school house, dated 1919 to 1936 and labeled Capitol Vista School. Children must have come from far to attend here!
Last, but not least, a common sight in Wyoming is a field with horses. After all, it is the "Cowboy State"!