Ten miles west of my home town of Casper, Wyoming is a place called Bessemer Bend. It is the site of the first cabin built in Wyoming. The cabin was erected in November 1812 by fur traders on their way from Astoria to St. Louis. The party, led by Robert Stuart, were the first white men to explore the deep canyon systems of the Platte River southwest of what is now Casper.

The Platte flows between two giant uptilted mountains, Coal Mountain and Bessemer Mountain, before turning a wide loop that is Bessemer Bend. These two uptilts expose the bright red rock of the Alcova formation. It is Bessemer Mountain that I have depicted in the logo you clicked on to arrive at this page.

Bessemer Mountain forms the west wall of a small valley, and Coal Mountain forms the south wall. To the northeast is a yellow limestone uptilt that is the southern extension of Emigrant Ridge. The south east wall of the valley is the west end of Casper Mountain. Square in the middle of the valley are two small red uptilts that some believe to be the site of the Battle of Red Butte, a battle that the U.S. Cavalry lost to the Sioux.

Bessemer Mountain formed the backdrop for John Wayne's movie: HELLFIGHTERS. At its base is a natural artesian spring from which flows a surprising volume of water. A local rancher gave the spring and land to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for the Hatchery and Rearing station that now bears his name: Dan Speas. If you are ever in Casper on a late summer evening drive out to the hatchery and take in the view of the sunset on the colorful rocks of the valley.

Fishing along the Platte is excellent if you like to hook large and vigorous trout. The area is home to numerous deer and antelope. The end of Casper Mountain that faces Bessemer Bend is deeply split by Jackson Canyon. It is to this canyon that hundreds of eagles come each winter, augmenting the local eagles, hawks, vultures, blue heron, cormorants, ducks, geese, and pelicans.

On the rise directly north of the river, at Bessemer Bend, is the site of the Goose Egg Ranch headquarters. The buildings are no longer there, but did exist in my parents' lifetimes. It was the Goose Egg that Owen Wister chose as the scene for the 'great baby swap' in his book THE VIRGINIAN. The Goose Egg, along with the Bug, the O W, and others, were the original ranches of Wyoming; whose cattle often grazed wide open prairie hundreds of miles from headquarters. It was a period of time that lasted only a few decades and was ended by the systematic taking up of the land through homesteading.


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