Old Ranch Houses from the 1900’s aren’t usually so well preserved. Nor were there many built this nicely and large. That is a very large pre-electricity structure in this country.
Located at the head of a local Drainage. Multiple artesian lakes surround the Historic ranch fed from the Fox Hill Aquifer 300 feet below. Cracks deep into the ground feed water to the surface, lakes form. A land of plenty and a wonderful place in the world as far as I can see. Caretakers live there with the ranch also being part of a much larger Cattle Ranchers Association. No one has given me a comprehensive oral history recap on the family. I have heard members Parks family started out driving a big herd of sheep up here from Sheridan, crosses 3 big rivers along the way, lost someone to a river crossing. Came up to Wyotana. They did very well building this house along with outbuildings and barn.
Sometime in the past the sounds of livestock sounds on this land changed from baaaa to moooo. Several Generations of several families have inhabited the old ranch house. Some people I’ve talked to have lived there. Some of those lived on my place as well. Small community around here. It’s still an interesting place inside with wonderful old oak woodwork. livable, good place to bunk. Dated to the 1950’s inside and out. Locally Obtained wood must have all been felled/cut within a few miles . Notable exception to the oak molding lol.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Taken up on the ranch communications tower….. We have to get internet from somewhere now don’t we lolol. Having built this about 12 years ago, I maintain a couple of radio repeaters as our ranch business band radio plus the local 2 meter repeater to the local Ham radio network.
To start with let me say I don’t work with Canon Cameras too much any more but I pulled a 3 year old Canon M50 off the shelf and put a 8mm VERY VERY VERY wide Fisheye lens on it. If you can find one, they are a wonderful camera to learn on. Mirrorless cameras are WAY easier to learn as What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) is the game.
The clouds were patchy with a deep blue sky above. The sun had set but the clouds above were still bright enough to register. Your looking at pretty much of the entire sky here. The old Canon M50 is a wonderful camera but has a smaller image sensor. I use all “Full Frame” (larger image sensor) Sony Alpha 7 series currently and can’t even buy a wider lens than 10 mm for the platform. I would if it were there to buy.
Lenses that are so wide tend to compress the image on the edges. The Image is right at 180 degrees wide at the corners. That is VERY wide for a single image.
Rarely do I have architectural elements in my images. Under Alpenglow saturated refractive ice filled sky, the football field sized roof sets the stage for this three part drama. We need a little patriotism these days….
Muddled has been the origin of the starts and stripes.. Accounts handed down orally over several generations. Mostly from the descendants of Betsy Ross. Congress onJune 14, 1777 took time from it’s busy schedule. It passed a resolution stating : “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white”. That “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Still to this day, no one knows who designed the flag. No one know why that particular color combination and pattern were chosen. Rumor is Betsy Ross made the first American flag in 1776.
George Washington personally requested her design the flag. Again, this is hearsay. Obviously nothing is hunting it was it never varies its routine. (bad plan generally) Coming home from a long night out working the light with a box of cameras is always full of adventure. I never know what to expect. Wyoming winds are unpredictable so there is a variable you can’t control. Luckily this was/is not much of a problem that night. It’s generally fairly windy in this country. An 80 dollar 5×8 flag usually last me about 4 months before it get’s “Worn out”. 3×2 aspect to 3 feet.
Rockypoint was located 52 miles north of Moorcroft and 57 miles northeast of Gillette. I’m not sure at this point where “Rockypoint “is” but I know where it was. About 4 miles south of this Wyotana structure that serves as a Community gathering point.
I’ve seen over 100 people crammed into that building eating some of the best pot luck dinners that rural Wyotana communities can put on. Everyone brings their best dishes for all to enjoy. I’ve been to dozens of dinners there. Locally, there is no better place to catch up on local news and gossip. Not that anybody here gossips much. We are naturally remote with a population density of less than 2 per square mile. Folks from 20 miles in all directions show up for Christmas, Thanksgiving and any other purpose those in charge decide to celebrate with a community meal. I’m thinking for the next year, it might be a little slow up there…. 😔
This was built by local families on donated land to serve just this purpose. The local ladies club that “runs” this building have fed folks remotely for numerous activities to raise the funds necessary to keep this all up. Feeding booths for rodeos, funeral dinners, and celebrations of all kinds have been served by this group. Everybody does something but hats off the the roughly dozen ranch wives that have for decades, served the community. Nothing from the gov’t here, all local.
Location: Rockypoint Wyoming, (Wyotana) about 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border.
Oh the history… Deep in the backcountry of Wyotana, is this old tin covered shack. It was used for many decades. From as early as 1900 some structures survive the years intact out here if the windows remain. Windows generally keep everything wild that might decide to overnight out. Cattle Pressure usually destroys windows in abandoned structure UNLESS they are in a fenced in an enclosure or corral area surrounded by other buildings. This on an abandoned homestead where the main house burned many years ago. It is indeed protected from cattle pressure.
This bunk house housed many hired hands over the years. All working on the larger ranch that used to head quarter at this site. Families came and went with the turning of the calendar. Generations perhaps of cowboys ‘passing through’ on their life journey. Father and son partnering, time passes, as eventually do the keys to the door. The number of boots passing that door must have been countless. Lives long since past. The poker games on the only table. The frost on the window ghosting one of the many hands passed with Aces and Eights. None of us has the perspective of this surviving relic of a past age. But perhaps to be a future alternative to the reality of todays world. We might all circle back to that life again.
Live in “interesting times” :
Maybe boring is better but change is of the essence wafting in the breeze. Not to worry as change has always been part of our existence here. It is as certain as life itself. When we become complacent and “used” to our lives, expect the unexpected. Things sneak up on you otherwise. Suddenly everything your “used” to changes. Then we reflect our thoughts to the stability of the old ways and realize that is where we belong. It is after all where we all came from.
I’m thinking I’m going to start practicing some more 1880’s technology than I already play with…. 🤔
Oh… the image…. Wonderful Alpenglow lights the background on an icy/snowy/frosty winter like spring morning. I love prodigious Alpenglow gradients during late civil twilight ❤️
Location: “Wyotana”, The Montana/Wyoming borderlands…
I went to Gillette two weeks ago (now as this posts) to deliver ammunition to a local gun store. (as I build such under Federal License) Heading back from ONLY the gun store and a fast food joint….. Any how I had a stash of McDonalds Double Cheese burgers (perfect for freezer implantation for later) in the back seat under a coat. (Somethings you don’t want to go through a global pandemic without ). All warm and snug there there were .
.So I had the bright Idea of taking a backroad loop I had never been on before on the way home. It’s was a 50+ mile addition to my 70 mile trip home (burgers were fine). They were still pretty warm as the down coat was effective as an insulator. That and the back seat heat vent driving with the windows open lolol. I digress….
So I’m driving along in undiscovered country with ranch names I’ve heard of but never seen before. Most roads in this country parallel drainage. Certainly crossing small creeks presented engineers with various problems. I was going 45 (which is the gravel road speed limit). Driving past the small groups of Pronghorn and mule deer . I didn’t see any White Tail or Elk on this drive. Moving along to actually cover a lot of ground. Saw this…I tried to lock up all 4 wheels but the antilock breaks got in the way again. I’m a purist and really enjoy simple cars with real feedback but that’s another narrative…..
Anyway, this scene stood out like a diamond in a very late brown season rough. The old roadway paralleled the existing road for hundreds of feed only to cross at this point. SOMEONE was the last personal to drive a vehicle over that thing. A student of water flow and drainage, I imagine , how many spring floods or flash floods from a summer thunderstorm this old infrastructure project has stood up to. Still here!
Routing: Random… Basically, drive 30 miles north of Gillette. Turn right at Weston… drive 30 miles out of my way, turn left 30 miles, turn left 30 miles…. (Basically my itinerary for this trip) lolol.
Location: Heald Road, Campbell County Wyoming. 30 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)
I was checking stock tanks the other day. We had just enjoyed 4 days of overcast foggy AND windy conditions, all below freezing. There was a lot of moisture in the air freezing on what ever it contacted. Where ever there are disruptions in air flow, Hoar frost forms under these conditions. These are 3 inch long feathers which rank among the largest I’ve seen before in person. The tank water is flowing ground water. It’s 50 degrees versus the 20 degrees or lower of the surrounding colder dry air. You can watch the water vapor stir off the top surface of the tank in calm wind.
Here it attached to the thick rubber Equipment tire’s cut edge. These Coal Mine Truck Tires wore out, time to repurpose. Cost maybe 12 grand or more new. I bought one recently installed for 700 bucks. The thick rubber tire is laid down on prepared ground. Powdered concrete under the center drain PVC pipe already in place. This seals the tank upon filling the first time. These tanks will last a century and are a one time installation for me. They would be virtually impossible to hurt. Your truck would bounce off of them if you ran into it. Might break the seal lolol. Occasionally one will spring a leak, just drop some powdered concrete over the hole and fill it up with water will usually patch it. Repurposing is a ranching tradition.
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. Gillette”s Hospital Complex up on a high hill overlooking the city. Rainbow’s from above appeared to me. Might have just been me ….Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day.
I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover. I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel.
I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away… Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
IT’s obvious by the wear and tear on the wood under this hole that it has been landed on thousands of times. The relentless job of feeding young, the coming and going of small but strong claws grasping for purchase there. Someone took the time to hollow out this hole and I’m betting on Common Flickers being involved. That species is by far the most active Pecking bird that I see here in the borderlands.
Close/Far Perspectives are my stock and trade with cameras. I really enjoy working wide angle close focus lenses. Using natural lines drawing your eye to the vanishing point it a long used technique in both painting AND photography. I can think of no finer subject than a majestic tree that gave it’s life to become a home. I’m sure this abode will be here 20 years further on down the road as the tree itself is sound yet. Unprotected wood can survive perhaps 100 years in this dry climate. We have ranch / farm implements that old with wood parts remaining but that was hardwood. This tree is pine.
This tree has several other shelters contained within it’s natural architecture. Several other similar entrances grace it’s remaining substantial bulk as a 15 foot tall standing stump. It’s top laying off to the side bleaching in the summer sun, it’s branches slowly being rubbed off by cattle pushing against to scratch an itch. Wildlife trees are special places providing food and home to a host of backcountry creatures.
Life on this ranch starting 1906-1960’s was hard. Somewhere in the Late 50’s and through the early 60’s several oil wells were sunk into a good oil reservoir. The family that was the recipient of that revenue decided to build what was then the largest building in Campbell County in 1964. A project of clearing ground for this pad started. Included was a corral system adjacent to the barm. The Pad ended up level. Literally notched into a big hill . The rocks and sediment bulldozed from the hill as a road cut on a highway. This “dirt” distributed around was old river sands so the drainage is pretty good now… This eliminated the original/natural contours and flattening out the “pad”. I understand that work alone cost 50,000 dollars to move all that dirt. That without the cost of this huge building.
A bit of Infrastructure already in the ground became deeper due to that dirt… This has been a little problematic… Now there are a few pipes that were 6 feet down that are now 15 feet down. All that ranch infrastructure works of course. We did experience a deep pipeline burst leaking water . Fixing that was a day long chore. That hole was pretty big. I’ve had to fix that pipe twice (so far in 20 years lolol).
The oil eventually went away by the mid-70’s and the oil well’s mothballed. Back to normal ranch revenue but they did effectively have a foot ball field under roof. Those hardy folks were cowboys from the start. Born and bred in the Wyotana borderlands. I’m not sure how many 1963 Corvettes that building would have purchased but I’m betting 30. At any rate having a barn with that much area under roof is a good thing. We pull vehicles in there when storms approach and have even had a tailgate picnic after calf brand cut short by a thunderstorm. There have been many calf roping events for the locals in there I’m thinking through the 80’s anyway. Probably around 100 of them would be my guess. Ropers are serious folks as it’s a life skill up here.
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. This is a Gillette Owned Christmas Star up on a high hill overlooking the city. Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day. I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover.
I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel. I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away…
Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
IT was a frigid morning at 14 below out on the backroads of Wyotana. I’m driving around in twilight before the sun comes up 20 or 30 miles from my homestead with a box o cameras next to me. I ran across this local landmark where I had to stop and stare.
OK, In full disclaimer mode, this is ART, I “assisted” the cow upstairs within the confines of the digital darkroom . That arena has no such rules of reality to control what I do. All work and no play makes Frank a very dull boy 😜😜😀📸📸 The moon was actually there I point out. ONLY the upstairs window has been messes with. I swear lolol Did I mention that this is actually ART? LOLOL.
There were about a half dozen cattle on the first floor. I’m pretty sure this building is a bit past the “basic fixer upper” moniker. The wood floor inside certainly has become soaked / covered by a rich bacterial mix. Any port in a storm I suppose. It would definitely be warmer inside than outside. It is also about the only wind block anywhere within easy walking distance in this snow. Cattle have a tough time in the winter during the really cold periods like the one we just had. Even the cattle outside are on the sheltered side of the house mostly out of the wind.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands, (Wyotana)
I’m always trying to imagine things as a mouse would in my travels. My cameras don’t care if I’m taking a mouses viewpoint or mine at 6 foot. I put the camera on a plate to protect it. It was warm from being inside.
I actually don’t do a lot of architectural images, maybe 10 a year 🤔📸 Rare of the rare, I even have electric lines in this images which is certainly less probable. I never have them if I can avoid it. But I like to think I have an eye for patterns and a tendency for walking around with cameras. I’ll give in occasionally to my habits…. The two characteristics are synergistic if you have OCD as badly as I do 😜 I try to take advantage of this partnership when ever the two meet in the middle.
This phenomena was the result of a very gentle, very dry powder snow. It was like sand sifting through your fingers on that deck surface. One poof of wind and it all would have taken to drifts. AND this was about 4 inches deep for an idea of scale. The entire deck surface had this appearance. I thought I had seen most odd ball phenomena in the snows during my 3 decades living in Wyoming. I’ve never seen this phenomena before though I’d seen other photos of it. I didn’t have a deck in Jackson Hole as we had concrete there. I missed all that dry powder then where this is probably common. We are 2000 feet lower and warmer here. Snow sticks all the time to itself and covers this surface solidly.
Good New Years Morning to all. Welcome 2020. It’s going to be an interesting year.
On this wonderful morning I noticed the breeze here had left some physical evidence of it’s direction and magnitude. The sunrise off frame was hard to ignore but I got distracted. The rustic nature of this metal building was hard to ignore in this light. The winds the day before while the sun was warming the ice on the roof. Icicles grow when the air is cold but the roof is warm either from within or from without. I can see clearly that the wind was not only steady but quite cold. The sun at 4000 feet is still amazingly strong even in mid-winter. Day time melting or even “Sublimation” (your google word of the day) occurs. These sun induced phase changes from snow in an of themselves will ablate the snow cover significantly during just a short time.
The old building tells many stories. Several generations of additions/ are apparent. The weather has taken it’s toll on the windows. It’s a good thing on a ranch to have a few extra gates sitting around. Many things have been stored within this shelter on the prairie. This abandoned building stands alone against the elements certainly here in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. 4000 foot in elevation, NO trees around it, nothing to block the winds across the plains. Who knows what this building has seen. No one is telling. 🤔
For me to get to this location, I have to leave about an hour before sunrise “Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow”. It is well down into Crook Country Wyoming about 40 miles towards Devil’s Tower. If that hill weren’t in the way, you could see the big thing.
Normally I would just drive up there. This isn’t my ground and I’m not big on trespassing on others ground. This shot was from the country road It is now filed in my “Wyoming/Montana backroads folder. All of the backcountry roads up here are gravel with an occasional Concrete/asphalt highway cutting across no mans land. It’s about 40 miles in any direction from this spot to a Wyoming State paved road. It’s all county road department maintained here.
There are some rough areas of course to get here. But if it’s frozen, the mud is no longer a problem but for deeper than your tires ruts lolol. Driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee where taller pickups leave tire grooves is always exciting. I’m still waiting for my now officially issued VIN number model year 2020 Ford F150 to be built. It should change the height at which I take images sometimes lol.
I get lost in reconstructing past lives and events, the comings and goings of old homesteads. This wasn’t much more than a cowboy bunk house with a wood stove for the “hands”. You had water with the windmill and I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture.
This is very big country open back country with many square miles of grass attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. This water pump is still standing though. It looks to be in working conditions.
Pumping Crude is exactly what this Pump Jack was doing. This is the overground driving system for a reciprocating pump thousands of feet below ground in the Powder River Basin. At the foot of the 13000 feet high Big Horn Mountain Chain.. the whole area is underlain by coal, oil and natural gas deposits.
The Powder River Basin is the tectonic bathtub adjacent to the aforementioned Big Horn Mountain uplift. It is the literally the trough of the sediment wave where the mountains are the crest of the wave of bent Earths crust resultant from huge forces compressing formerly flat sediment into literally a wave form. The sediments washing off the high side of the wave quickly filled in the basin adjacent with sand, gravel and cobbles. The low areas were coal swamp heaven and are loaded with fresh water fossils, crocs, alligators, freshwater fish of all kinds, amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles and a host of invertebrates/shell fish.
The “Powder River Basin” supplies coal that accounts for 30 percent of the electricity generated in the US and is a good low sulfur coal. Good to export to China to keep them from using their nasty sulfurous coal. This part of the country has a huge hydrocarbon infrastructure. BIG coal mines, lots of natural gas and thousands of these pump jacks spread about.
All the other hydrocarbons are all ultimately resultant from those swamps. Gas and volatile fluids moved away from the coal as diagenesis of the sediments proceeded with those fluids moving to the eventual trap. This well was bored into such a trap. All tenorable oil deposits require a source for the petroleum and a pathway to the trap .
This all happened AFTER the dinosaur died about 66 million years ago.
This summer we had JUST finished sealing the Ranch’s Log Lodge building. That’s an every 4 or 5 year job up here. (Log houses are NOT for sissies.)… The sunrise that morning was filtered by a good mist up the ridge giving me a reason to go outside and grab some of these extra photons.
Work is where and when you find it in this profession lolol.