Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Dam Drive

During Tuesday's visit to Old Trail Town Denny stopped to tease a man working on a stone structure at the far end of the town.  The gentleman told us he was a stonemason volunteering his time to rebuild a monument to some of Wyoming's mountain men that had been torn down due to a property line argument.  A native to the area, the man (I neglected to get his name) talked to us about Bob Edgar, the man who created Old Trail Town and his expertise with a gun--any kind of gun.  According to this man, Bob could shoot an elk at 750 yards with a Colt 45--pretty fancy shooting.  In talking about shooting, mountain men and area history, the stonemason told us of a friend who was exploring deep into the mountains on horseback when he discovered a shell casing from an experimental rifle that was issued specifically to Custer's men who fought at Little Big Horn.  It seems this type of rifle had a tendency to jam when fired and needed a special tool to eject the live shell so another could be used.  Unfortunately the government only issued one shell ejector for every four or five men, so in the heat of battle when their rifles jammed they had to find someone who had a shell ejector.  Can you imagine?  "Uhh, guys, time out--my rifle's jammed and I don't have the ejector.So the stonemason's friend assumes that some of the Native American's involved in the Battle of Little Big Horn confiscated one of the rifles and carried it over 200 miles to the Absaroka Mountains in Wyoming.  I imagine there's a whole lot of items to be found in the mountains around here.
Our stonemason friend then told us that if we had the time we should drive down South Fork Road to see the mountains and valleys there because that's where he lives.  So yesterday that's what we did after first driving over to the Buffalo Bill Dam.  Because I just enjoy learning about the dam things.

  Unfortunately, due to the continuing threat of sabotage, you have to take pictures of the structure from inside the visitor center so there was window glare in this photo.  Strangely enough, you can still walk along the top of the dam and look down.

Originally called the Shoshone Dam, the Buffalo Bill Dam was finished in 1910 after being worked on for six years by three different contractors.  At the time that it was finished, it was the tallest dam in the country at 325 feet which made it taller than the Capitol building in Washington.  What is surprising about the dam is that there was no sand available locally to make concrete, so the workers had to ground up local granite instead.  There also is no rebar or steel support involved in the concrete; the dam was built using layers of granite rock submerged in the concrete as support.  At times the workers were laying concrete in temperatures reading -16 degrees, so they had to use coal fires and create steam by covering the concrete with tarps to keep the concrete warm enough that it set up properly and maintained its strength.  The purpose of the dam back then was simply for irrigation although later a small power plant was added to create hydroelectricity. 

The Shoshone River reservoir.  Our parking area is on the right.

The original of this tunnel was cut by men using pick axes, shovels and black powder.

After wandering the exhibits at the Visitor's Center, we decided to drive down South Fork Road for a bit to view the scenery.  Unfortunately the camera battery died on me so I didn't get the shots I wanted since it was a beautiful 40 mile long dead end road of lovely farms, meadows, valleys and mountains.

I apologize for this post being all over the place today, but Denny and I have been up since 3AM due to high winds shaking the trailer while attempting to rip our slideout awning toppers off the slideouts.  And it's still at it at 9AM.  It's going to be a long day.


SkippyMom said...

Fascinating - boy - I learned a lot today. Really neat facts and [as usual] purty pics.

I keep meaning to ask you but what kind of camera do you use? I can't remember if you told me.

amarkonmywall said...

This is a dam good tale. With beautiful photos! I think it should still be the Shoshone Dam. Just my opinion. Also- how do you get wi-fi every where you wander? It's impressive.

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