Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Civilian Conservation Corps at Guernsey State Park

Franklin D. Roosevelt included the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of his New Deal. And the Civilian Conservation Corps built Guernsey State Park. No other state park in Wyoming had any CCC work. That makes Guernsey a one of a kind park.
CCC built Castle on the North Bluff

Want to learn more, you can order my new book here, or you can purchase a copy at the Museum.
If you haven't visited for a while a trip up to the CCC built Museum is in order.

Here is a snippet from the book. This particular story is from one of  the, folklore in the park, sections.

The Story of the Body in the Gulch 

A man, known only as Black, nobody really knew if Black was his last name or a nickname. He had been in and around the Cheyenne to Black Hills stage route for several weeks, sometimes riding shotgun on one of the dangerous runs. More often, if he had money, he hung around the Cheyenne Club or one of the many gambling concerns in Deadwood.


Once when a stage traveler admired his fancy spurs he said he’d won them in a poker game. Another time he mentioned buying them in Mexico.


Curious people questioned how someone who apparently did not work on a regular basis could afford such an expensive pair of spurs. But why not, he was also described as wearing handmade boots he’d special ordered to fit his feet. Some of the new style, individually made from a place in Kansas.


Privately Black had told a table of his poker playing pals that he found the spurs on a body, “a way’s up a gulch,” near the North Platte River. Since he was more often broke than not most believed this to be true. So how does all of this tie into a story?

The real story might be the finding of the body, one man found it, no one else ever saw it. The man, Black, who proudly owned a new set of spurs appeared only briefly in the area and never was heard from again. A few years’ later locals commonly believed that no one simply walked upon a decaying body with the spurs. Instead believing someone was killed in the gulch, most stories named Black as the killer, with the spurs being part, or all of the take from the crime.
Maybe the body in the Gulch looked like me - no, probably not that old.



 Some modern tales make the dead man out as a park haunting ghost who today frequents the Red Cloud shelter area. But who was he really? The man might have been a murderer lawman with the body later dumped in the gulch or a drummer (traveling peddler), or a women. Today when the wind blows out of the south-south-west an eerie, haunting howl, can be heard in and around Dead Man’s Gulch. The entirety of the story sounds much more like a tall-tale than history, and perhaps it is, but the story of the Dead Man’s Gulch still makes for lively conversation more than a century later.


Want to read more?

 Go here and read the first few pages. 


I still like the hard copy better than the ebook because depending on the e-reader some of the photos and captions do not stay together, but the text is fine and so are the photos, just seems like more white space than needed - still a good read.
Far off the beaten path and if you know where to look - The CCC didn't always get everything cleaned up. Today this makes for great photos for a historian. It also allows me to wonder about a day in the life of a CCC worker.