Friday, July 04, 2008

Small Town Independence in America

Pinedale, Wyoming, 1905. The town's first 4th of July celebration was held that night. As we see here, the townsfolk hung out Old Glory, bunting, and had a grand time.

Charles A. Peterson moved his family to Pine Creek Flat on September 7, 1895. A rude cabin, probably constructed and abandoned by a hunter-trapper, became their new home. Tex Pierce and the Hoff brothers, Harry and Henry, were the nearest neighbors a few miles away. Shortly came Robert Graham and Carl Lauritsen from Council Bluffs, Iowa who made camp on the Fremont Lake shore. Later, Mr. Graham moved to his own 160 acre spread adjoining the Peterson place.

In the following years, more families arrived to make the Pine Creek area their home. There were William Shanley, J. Hill, the Hansen family, J. Sweeny, Verne Sill, and Albert Bayer. In a letter remembering those beginning days, Charlie Peterson wrote "we considered ourselves a community, and we applied for a local post office."

They got their Post Office establishing constant contact with the outside world. Mr. Bayer contracted to dig the first ditch in Pine Creek. It ran along the higher flats and brought much needed fresh water to the lower flats of Pinedale and Pole Creek.

The small, ad hoc community grew. A saw mill was brought up from Saratoga and cut the lumber used to build the homes and businesses that were popping up throughout the area. Charlie Peterson and his wife increased the population when George B. Petersen was born October 17, 1898 making him the first white child born there. Mr. Peterson bought the sawmill and lost an arm to the blade.

The town grew and prospered. Using the plans Peterson and Graham had laid out, the town of Pinedale took shape on land donated by the two, five acres each. A large general store was built and the owner donated four lots to build a schoolhouse. The town then gave two lots to a newspaper man with a printing press. Education and communication had arrived.

Peterson established the first saloon, building it next to his own house, the original cabin had already been replaced by a proper home for Mrs. Peterson. Charlie says, "a roaring success-with accent on roaring. In spite of all the shooting and drinking there never was a man hurt in the whole time I ran the saloon. So far as I know it was the same with the Falers Brothers who were my successors."

Others came and the town continued to grow. A church was built to save the souls of those in the saloon. A doctor came and so did a pharmacy. That Post Office that was built at the beginning had been moved and the frontiersman, Kit Carson served as Post Master for several years.

The Sprague Hotel was built in 1904. The hotel provided a warm place for visitors, some of whom stayed. The town was now exploding. The good folk of Pinedale got electricity in 1904, telegraph in January 1905 and telephone the following March. At year's end, a bridge straddled Pine Creek bringing the automobile which didn't actually get to town until August 14, 1907. It was a 27HP Gale that weighed 1900 pounds and had been driven in from Rock Springs in the unheard of time of seven hours, less than a work day. Town Father, Mr. Peterson, didn't see the arrival of the automobile in Pinedale; he left his town in 1905 after having lived the American Dream of creating something lasting and important to others.

"Boosterism" they called it. That practice of advertising to lure people to come and start a new life. Many came from parts unknown and they sometimes changed their names to make a clean break from the past. Pinedale incorporated in 1912 and at the end of World War I, saw a population explosion as soldiers returned from the trenches and killing fields - the Flanders Fields - of Europe.

Pinedale has had a short, but event filled history. Dreams achieved and dreams dashed. Lives created and lives lost. In the early days, saloons were frequented more than churches, and I'd suspect that's still true today. Kat's Steakhouse now stands where a man once could drink and gamble at Jack Mudd's place. Over at the Fremont saloon, the barkeep was murdered with an icepick. That's the town's cold case; still don't know the who or the why of the killing.

The problems and promise of Pinedale are the same for every community of our nation. The history is the same, too. It is all in the way we meet the challenges that has made all the difference. America gives a first chance, one must earn the second, and America will even give a third chance if one works hard enough.

Today Pinedale and America are confronted with problems, dangers, and challenges from within and without. On the whole, we are doing pretty well. We've not been attacked by terrorists since 9/11 2001, we held elections and nomination primaries without mishap. We've toppled two terrorist governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, have split North Korea and Iraq from the Axis of Evil leaving Iran to stand alone against the world.

Osama bin Laden thought he could destroy America's economy by damaging the World Trade Towers. He brought them down, but the economy recovered in two years. Another of his stated goals was $140 barrels of oil. He didn't do that either, but the rest of us sure did. In spite of the oil cost, the mortgage and stock market crises, Americans are still plugging along accepting the problems as they come, knowing the promise of America, like our flag at Ft. McHenry, is still there.

Happy Independence Day. Remember how it came to be and those men and women who forged their dream from the giving soil of America. Remember those who are, at this very moment, working, fighting, bleeding, and dying so that that promise and those dreams can live.

There is more to be found about Pinedale at "Early Pinedale History", Ann Noble, May 2, 2002. My thanks to the town and people of Pinedale for doing what American do best, and especially to Miss. Noble for telling their story.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


The Griper said...

afternoon indigo,
can see why everyone praises your page now. the story was perfect for this day. enjoyed it immensely.

there are many that demean this country because of our standing in the world but stories such as this shows we have earned that standing.

also, got a kick out of your polar post but one thing made me laugh. ice melts but it doesn't freeze, water freezes. lol

hope you had a good fourth.

Indigo Red said...

Thank you, Griper. That means alot to me.

Gayle said...

Griper is right, Indigo. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post too! Our forfathers were a hardy and amazing people, and I imagine the saloons in Pinedale probably still hold more people than those in their churches.

Because it is so hot here in Texas at this time of year, I often marvel at how Americans ever settled here without the modern conveniences such as air-conditioning. Heck, they didn't even have electricity to run fans! It was even worse in Phoenix. "Hardy" doesn't even begin to describe them. I think "tough as nails" is probably a better description.

Thanks for a touch of our history, Indigo. Happy Independence Day and may you have a wonderful and blessed weekend.

Indigo Red said...

Thank you, Gayle. My respects to all 50 States, but at heart I'm really a Texan, though I've never been there.

layla said...

Such a wonderful story to share with us. Thank you.

Have a blessed and safe Independence Day.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Anonymous said...

BTW-I failed to mention that I really do like your blog and have added you to my Links list. :)

Indigo Red said...

Thank you, Layla.

I have a reciprical link to you.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Your historical posts are always amazing.

Happy Independence Day!

Indigo Red said...

You are too kind, Word. I do, however, enjoy writing them.

Anonymous said...

HAH! How long have I been saying all these things about you? Don

Indigo Red said...

A long time, Don, and I thank you first and foremost.

Mike's America said...

Ah, the old Sprague Hotel in Pinedale. I remember it well!

Well, may not "remember" but anyway....

You can see Pinedale today, LIVE, on their own web cam:

Looks pretty quiet today, but beautiful with the mountains in the background.

Belated Happy 4th Indigo!

Mike's America said...

P.S. Don't miss the picture of the "pesky" moose that kept knocking down the thermometer last December:

Indigo Red said...

Oh, thank you so much for those lnks. I didn't even think of looking for webcams!

That moose pic is just like my little brother describes. He lives in W. Yellowstone, WY and sees the wildlife on his lawn nearly everyday.

todd said...

I stumbled across your page not long ago, cant remember how I got here but I'm glad I did. Keep up the great work, I link to your posts when appropriate in my comments at other sites.

Indigo Red said...

I'm glad you stumbled over here, Todd. Your comments are always much appreciated as are your links on other's blogs.

For those who want see what Pinedale is up to today, the The Sublette Examiner is published from 219 E. Pine St., Ste. 109, Pinedale, WY 82941.

todd said...

Thats very nice of you to say, Thank you.

Marie's Two Cents said...

Excellent Post Indigo :-)

Happy belated 4th of July to you and yours :-)

Indigo Red said...

Thank you very much, Marie.

Anonymous said...

Geez Indi, a veritqable love-fest. Don

Indigo Red said...

You betcha, Don. Very nice folk come here.

Todd said...

Err, Don, here’s some more luv, why not use the Name/URL instead of anonymous and then signing your name afterward? Just forget the URL and sign your name, Don, or do you like surprises?

Per Almar said...

Searching for family history, I came upon this site. My greatgrandmother died in Pinedale 1907 as mrs Dell Crandell. She was a sister to mrs. Charles Petersen and left also a son in Rawlins Gay Almar Johnson and two in Denmark who never had the home they hoped for. In her last letter she described Pinedale as the most beautiful place and the Petersen ranch as the finest, - you can pick gooseberries down by the river. Per Almar Johnson, Denmark.

Indigo Red said...

I'm happy to have been of help, Per Almar. Your family has contributed greatly to this nation and, I'm sure, Denmark, as well.

I just read the Pinedale newspaper this morning. Local sheepmen are having problems with wolves killing their flocks. We would do well to read again the folktales of Denmark about wolves.