Meeteetse, Wyoming

In 1981, the last known wild population of black-footed ferrets was discovered near Meeteetse. All black-footed ferrets in the world today are descended from those animals found here. Previously, they had been believed to be extinct.

Meeteetse advertises itself as "Where Chiefs Meet," and talks about a land where outlaws rode and cattle barons ruled, a place where the streets are still lined with hitching rails, wooden boardwalks and water troughs (for your horse(s)).

Meeteetse (Shoshone for "meeting place") dates its beginning to when the post office and school were first established in 1880. The Meeteetse Trail was built from Red Lodge, Montana to Meeteetse in 1881. This was a stage and freight road, the first road built into the Big Horn Basin country. Eventually, the Trail was extended to Lander and Rawlins.

In Meeteetse is the Cowboy Bar, founded in 1893 and still open for business. One of the two bars inside has 56 bullet holes in it, and one shotgun blast. Back in the early days, Robert Leroy Parker (aka Butch Cassidy) was a resident in Meeteetse. He signed a petition in town asking for a new bridge over the Graybull using his birth name. About 1890 he ran afoul of Otto Franc, owner of the famous Pitchfork Ranch. Franc swore out a warrant against Parker for horse stealing and Parker served 2 years in the Territorial Penitentiary for it. When he was released from jail, he went back to Meeteetse and was arrested again just out front of the Cowboy Bar on another warrant sworn out by Franc. Franc is also one of those who supposedly helped finance the Johnson County War.

There was a minor gold rush in the Wood River Mining District, about 33 miles southeast of Meeteetse, beginning in 1891. Meeteetse was the jumping off point and supply station for that. There never was a lot of gold found but people were still digging up there years later.

In the 1930's Carl and Thelma Dunrud tried to revive the gold mines and opened up the Double D Dude Ranch. Carl had previously met a fellow named George P. Putnam who had later married Amelia Earhart. An avid explorer, Putnam had once hired Carl as a roper on a 1926 expedition to Greenland. While there, Carl roped walruses, polar bears and musk oxen. Once the Double D Dude Ranch was open and operating, Putnam and Earhart came to visit. This was just before her famous "round-the-world" flight. She designed a cabin for herself at the ranch and Dunrud began building it, but left off when she disappeared somewhere over the Pacific.

There's a story about the First National Bank in Meeteetse: one slow day the bank manager decided he'd step out back and drop a fishing line in the Greybull River. While he was gone a state bank examiner arrived and found the front door unlocked with no one in the bank. Thinking he'd teach the bank manager a lesson he reached over the counter and set off the alarm. A couple minutes later a waitress arrived from a nearby saloon carrying a couple beers... she'd heard the signal, right?