Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Story of Ten Sleep

I love towns with a story behind their names.

Welcome to Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

There was once a large Sioux Indian camp on the banks of the Platte River to the south of Ten Sleep and another large Indian camp on the Clark's Fork River to the North, near present-day Bridger, Montana. These camps were important to Indians and settlers due to the trails leading to and from them in all directions across the West. According to the reckoning of the Indians, it was twenty "sleeps," or nights, between the two camps.

It took ten "sleeps" to get halfway between them. This became the location of the present town of Ten Sleep. Brilliantly logical.

Walking around the town, we were struck by two points: a two-block walk covers downtown Ten Sleep and the town's signs tell an interesting story.

This sign (above) sent out quite a welcome as we entered town. Given the amount of money that probably went into the production of the sign, it is unfortunate that the store has closed.

From this angle (right), it would appear that the town has an array of stores packed within a small area.

Instead of the old signs for Nehi Orange Soda or Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer or a frozen pizza, Ten Sleep seemed to be having some fun with the signs for

Henry Weinhard's Gourmet Root Beer,

Stella Artois, a deluxe beer, and

this sign announcing the availability of handmade wood-fired pizza.

We checked the windows of the Big Horn Mountain Stage building, wondering what artists would be appearing in Ten Sleep this summer.

Unfortunately, the theater was closed. Interestingly, a note in the window stated that it was closed because filming would be occurring in the theater all summer. No details.

A more subtle, subdued sign identified this building as Saint Brigid's Chapel, one of six churches in town.

The area around Ten Sleep is full of history and is recognized as being the site of many historic battlegrounds. Among those sites are: (1) the Bates Battlesite, an engagement in which the Arapahoe were defeated by a coalition composed of U.S. troops and the Shoshone.

(2) At the Dull Knife site, Dull Knife and Wild Hog were defeated, leaving the Big Horn Mountains under the control of the white man.

(3)Located a few miles south of Ten Sleep is the famous site of the Spring Creek Raid. Here, cattle ranchers and sheep herders fought a bloody battle over grazing rights. The event eventually led to the end of the bitter rivalry between cattlemen and sheep ranchers.

But this sign caught our eye: "Dirty Sally's." It just begged to be checked out. So we did.

Tomorrow: the results of that visit.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

if you want to know how small you are you must drive through ten sleep pass at sunset. do it when the sun is just touching the rim of the mountain. i never felt so small in my life.