Stage station sees improvements
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
John (Jack) Bowman has really been changing the appearance of things here around Camp Hat Creek. Bowman assisted by Joe Walters has been very busy laying foundation stones, cutting and hauling logs and building a new stage stop here to replace J.W. Dear's road ranche which had been burned by Indians in late June. They are getting the logs from the Hat Creek Breaks a few miles south of here. The station they are building is near the banks of Sage Creek and next to Lieutenant Taylor's 23rd Infantry camp. It is an "L" shaped log structure with a sod roof.
Bowman plans to develop a first-class hotel, soon to be complete with telegraph and post offices, brewery, bakery, and butcher and blacksmith shops. He also plans to keep groceries, grain and plenty of hay on hand, and will provide good stabling for horses.
The soldiers at Camp Hat Creek are pleased to see such facilities close at hand, however, Lieutenant Taylor is probably not too anxious for the brewery to get into operation. Joe Walters has just recently been discharged after serving as a sergeant in Company E of the 23rd Infantry.
NOTE: Jack Bowman was frequently deputized to assist in the arrest of outlaws over the next few years (Hat Creek was in Laramie County at this time). He also proved to be one of the most reliable station masters along the entire Black Hills route.
Joe Walters' luck did not turn out so good. A couple of weeks later he had gone to work at Cuny's Three Mile Ranch as a bartender and was killed in a fight. Apparently he was scuffling with a freighter named Charlie or Garsy Brown when he had his own gun turned on him and was shot in the abdomen.
(Information sources: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes, by Agnes Wright Springs; Fort Laramie in 1876, by Paul L. Hedren.)