Wyoming Folklore


Wyoming Folklore

Reminiscences, Folktales, Beliefs, Customs, and Folk Speech

Collected by the Federal Writers' Project
Edited by James R. Dow, Roger L. Welsch, and Susan D. Dow
Introduction by James R. Dow and Roger L. Welsch

264 pages


December 2010


$17.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

December 2010


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order creating the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). Out-of-work teachers, writers, and scholars fanned out across the country to collect and document local lore. This book reveals the remarkable results of the FWP in Wyoming at a time when it was still possible to interview Civil War veterans and former slaves, homesteaders and Oregon Trail migrants, soldiers of the Great War and Native Americans who remembered Little Big Horn. The work of the FWP in Wyoming, collected and edited here for the first time, comprises a rich repository of folklore and history and a firsthand look at the Old West in the process of becoming the new American frontier. Wyoming Folklore presents the legends, local and oral histories, and pioneer stories that defined the state in the early twentieth century.

Author Bio

James R. Dow is a professor emeritus of foreign languages and literatures at Iowa State University and is the author of German Folklore: A Handbook. Roger L. Welsch is a well-known folklorist and essayist and the author or coauthor of more than thirty books, including A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore and Cather’s Kitchens: Foodways in Literature and Life, both available in Bison Books editions. Susan D. Dow’s photographs have appeared in several of James Dow’s books.


“Roger Welsch is probably the only man from CBS Sunday Morning who has milked a cow. This lends him credibility in the eyes of many of us and qualifies him to sort the wheat from the chaff of Wyoming folklore.”—Baxter Black, cowboy, poet, former large-animal veterinarian, and radio commentator

"This gathering of folklore, legends, and history is brought to readers thanks to the 1930s archives of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP). . . . Readers and scholars of the American West and the FWP will find this book worthwhile."—S.B. DeMasi, Choice

"The book is fun, and it might just serve as a reminder that there are files tucked away in every state across the West that just might hide some information relevant to the studies of those who find their way here."—Gary L. Roberts, Wild West History Association Journal

"I recommend the book for the general reader who is interested in folklore from Wyoming, or of the wider West—folklore actually from people living there as opposed to significantly rewritten or bowlderized forms—for scholars interested in the contours of the WPA folklore projects, and for scholars looking for additional texts in the categories listed above for comparative purposes."—Lisa Gabbert, Western American Literature

Table of Contents


Part 1. Pioneer Memories   

1. Cowboy Days with the Old Union Cattle Company   

2. Tale of the Southern Trail

3. Life in a Line Camp 

4. A Christmas in the Mountains    

5. An Old-Time Christmas in Jackson Hole 

6. Stories of a Round-up     

7. The Last Great Buffalo Hunt of Washakie and His Band in the Big Horn Basin Country    

8. A Stampede    

9. Civil Strife  

10. The Fleur-de-Lis Cocktail

11. Putting on the Style     

12. American Class     

13. Packer, the Man-Eater    

Part 2. The White Man's Tales

<A>Lost Mine Tales</A>

14. The Lost Treasure of the Haystacks   

15. Lost Gold of the Big Horn Basin

16. The Lost Soldier Mine    

17. The Lost DeSmet Treasure 

18. Indian Joe's Gold  

19. The Lost Sweetwater Mine 

20. The Lost 600 Pounds

<A>Tall Tales and Humor</A>

21. The Coney    

22. Bearing Down 

23. Slovakian Rabbits  

24. The Prolific Herds 

25. Hunting on the Railroad  

26. All Aboard!  

27. The Fossil Bug     

28. The Big Snake on Muddy Creek   

29. Wyoming Fauna

30. The Capture of a Sea Serpent  

31. Vanishing Elk

32. The Hard-Water Spring    

33. "Dutch" Seipt's River    

34. The Great Discovery

35. Love on the Yellowstone  

36. The Dying Cowboy   

37. Getting the Tenderfoot   

38. Jerky Bill's Funeral     

<A>Characters, Big and Little</A>

39. The Wake of the White Swede    

40. Disappearing Johnny

41. The Lynching of Walters and Gorman   

42. Jim Baker's Revenge

43. The Piano Tuner and His Hallet Canyon Hunch

44. The Man with the Celluloid Nose

45. Portugee's Ride    

46. The White Rider    

47. The Chicago Kid    

48. A Woman's Wiles    

49. The Legend of the Indian Princess Ah-ho-ap-pa    

<A>Ghost Tales</A>

50. Ghost Lights on Old Morrisey Road    

51. The Hoback River Ghost   

52. The Phantom Scout  

53. The Specter of Cheyenne Pass   

54. The Laramie Ghost  

55. The Ghost of Cross Anchor Ranch

56. The Ghost of Nightcap Bay

57. The Oakley Ghost   

58. Mel Quick's Story  

<A>Folk Etymologies</A>

59. The Hartville Rag  

60. The Story of Whiskey Gap 

61. The Legend of Crazy Woman Country    

62. The Story of Rawhide Butte     

63. The Legend of Fanny's Peak     

Part 3. Indian Folktales     

<A>Creation Myths</A>

64. Arapaho (1) and Arapaho (2)    

65. Shoshone     

<A>Tales and Legends</A>

66. Axe Brown's Stories

67. Lone Bear's Story  

68. The Nin<AP>am-bea, or "Little People"

69. The Mouthless People     

70. A Shoshone Legend  

71. The Fort Washakie Hot Spring   

72. The Story of the Cottontail and the Sun    

<A>Indian Legends of Jackson Hole</A>

73. The Sheep-eaters   

74. The Happy Hunting Grounds

75. The Legend of Sheep Mountain   

76. The Legend of "One-Eye"  

<A>Indian Place Name Legends</A>

77. The Legend of Big Springs

78. Shoshone Version of the Legend of the Big Spring 

79. The Legend of Wind River Canyon

80. The Legend of Chugwater Creek  

81. Legends of Lake DeSmet   

82. Lovers' Leap 

83. The Legend of Bull Lake  

84. The Great Medicine Wheel 

<A>Medicine Wheel Legends</A>

85. The Legends of the Devil's Tower     

86. A Kiowa Legend of the Devil's Tower  

Part 4. Folk Belief, Custom, and Speech  

<A>Folk Belief</A>

87. Weather

88. Love   

89. Good Luck    

90. Bad Luck     

91. Wishes 

92. Medicines    

<A>Cures from Other Wyoming Sources</A>

93. Physiognomy, Reading Character and Omens by Physical Features

94. Dream Interpretations    

95. Miscellaneous Beliefs and Omens

96. Indian Beliefs     

<A>Folk Speech</A>

97. Glossary of Terms, Nicknames, and Folk Speech    

98. Cheap Thunder! An Example of Folk Speech in Action     

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