Dead Cowboys and Absent Aliens


July 17th, 2011

I left the Black Hills, heading for the Tetons, north through Deadhorse. Along the way I saw signs for Wild Bill Hickok and decided I would go and see, since I had already seen Billy the Kid’s grave. The ride to the graveyard seemed like it was straight up, and the walk was also straight up, but I was feeling like hiking and enjoyed most of the hike.

Wild Bills Origional Headstone

Calamity Jane is buried next to him, which was her dieing request. The guide they gave me when I entered the graveyard (you actually had to pay a dollar, which I thought was funny. Billy’s grave was free) had some questionable things to say about her claims of their being a couple, but I guess since he was already dead he couldn’t object.

A quarter mile hike up the side of the mountain was the grave of the first sheriff of Deadhorse was buried with his wife. He had been a friend of Teddy Roosevelt, and wanted to be buried with a view of Mount Roosevelt, instead of with the rest of the population.

The hike up was rough, and during it I finally got tired of walking, but I kept at it to get to the top.

and the view

The walk down was much easier.

There was really only one grave that caught my eye

The inscription is pretty faded

I left the graveyard (with someone recognizing me from the Minuteman Site and catching up on what had been seen) and headed for the Tetons, then saw Devil’s Tower, just a bit north off my route. It was somewhere else I had never been, so off I went.

You can see the tower from pretty far off, which is probably why the aliens decided to use it for a rendezvous in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I was there during the day, which I think is why I didn’t actually see any aliens. I bet they only show up at night, and if you have a piano.

In order to give you some scale on the tower, there were several teams climbing it. You can see the columns in the above pic, so now look at this one

The tower is pretty big.

There are a couple of trails around the tower, and despite still being a bit hiked out I decided to take a stroll.

You might be wondering about the columns.

The tower was formed by a core of magma pushing up through sedimentary rock. The magma cooled and shrank, cracking into the columns due to the nature of the rock. The surrounding sedimentary rocks eroded away over time, and so now we have a tower. There might be other towers still buried in surrounding sedimentary formations that just haven’t shown up yet.

I got back on the road and headed west. The sun was out, and it was nice and warm, until I reached Powder River Pass

Yup, that’s snow. Brr.

Riding back down the pass (on the other side, of course), it again warmed up and I found camping in Ten Sleep.

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