…Where the deer and the antelope play… As we made our way from Devils Tower, Wyoming to The Little Big Horn in Montana, I felt like we were living that old song that I grew up with as a kid. We were crossing the wide-open range lands of Wyoming and Montana and, as we were, we saw herds of deer and antelope roaming across the rangeland. For a while, I felt like we were back on safari in Africa with the wide open, grass-covered savannas and herds of wild animals roaming free. It was pretty cool!
Along the way we passed places with such names of Powder River, Crazy Woman Creek, Prairie Dog Creek; some were the sites of battles during the Indian Wars. I have copied a description of one such battle so you can get a flavor of the history of this area:
“The Battle of Crazy Woman Creek, Wyoming By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated January 2018.
Crazy Woman Creek (July 20, 1866) – Another clash occurred by Indians resisting travel on the Bozeman Trail when Sioux and Cheyenne warriors attacked a small wagon train at the trail crossing of the Crazy Woman Fork of Powder River on July 20, 1866. Escorted by Lieutenant George M. Templeton and a detachment of 29 soldiers, the train was heading north to Fort Phil Kearny. The party passed by Fort Reno before following Dry Creek to its junction with Crazy Woman Creek.
Scouting ahead, Lieutenants Templeton and Napoleon H. Daniels were attacked by more than 50 warriors. Daniels was killed and Templeton took an arrow in his back and was wounded in the face. However, he was able to make it back to the wagon train, which he ordered corralled. The situation was desperate as of the 37 people in the party nine were women and children and only ten of the 19 enlisted soldiers had guns. A battle raged from early afternoon through sundown, at which time the soldiers were getting low on ammunition. Two men including a soldier and the Chaplain Reverend David White volunteered to ride back to Fort Reno for help. However, before they were on their way, another larger wagon train came along the scene. Comprised of 34 wagons and 47 men, under Captain Thomas B. Burrowes, approached from the northwest on its way to Fort Reno. Burrowes quickly took command of both parties and the Indians left the area. One of Burrowes’ men, Private Terrence Callery, who had been hunting ahead of the wagon train was killed. The next morning the soldiers found the body of Lieutenant Daniels stripped, scalped, and pierced with 22 arrows. Both wagon trains then returned to Fort Reno.”
We were driving due west across Wyoming until we smacked into the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Then we turned due north and followed the flanks of the Rockies until we entered Montana and continued on until we reached the Little Bighorn River, flowing through the Crow Indian Reservation. We will be staying at the only camping place that is near the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It is a RV park but it’s saving grace is that it is the off season and is mostly empty.
Tomorrow, we will explore the battlefield and a museum before continuing on to Yellowstone National Park on Monday.