Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1880/08/05

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/30/-0001

Cow trailers come back through Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

A young man by the name of Charles A. Guernsey was here today with part of the 999 Ranch tail crew on their return trip to the Denver area. Guernsey is the horse wrangler for the outfit, they are taking 70 odd head of horses and mules with them to make another drive this way next spring.

Guernsey had joined the 999 outfit, which is owned by Mather & Robinson Company, in June. They had been located on Box Elder Creek, some 20 miles northeast of Denver. Due to a lack of water and grass, they were then gathering up their cattle to move them north in search of new range. They had gathered about 1,900 head, mostly cows and calves, when they started this way.

The trail herd entered Wyoming Territory south of Pine Bluffs and crossed the Union Pacific Railroad at that point, about 30 miles east of Cheyenne. From there they continued north to the Goshen Hole country, then northwest to fords on the Laramie and North Platte rivers, a short distance west of Fort Laramie.

From Fort Laramie they followed the Cheyenne to Black Hills Stage trail north, taking them past the Government Farm, Rawhide Buttes, and
Running Water Stage Station, and then to Hat Creek. They had arrived here in mid-July, their chuck wagon was replenished with supplies, and the cowboys had a few minutes to get tobacco, socks, ammunition for their six-shooters, and any other personal items they needed.

The cowboys did not visit much. Whenever they got a little break, they took advantage of it to get some rest. Their regular hours on the drive were 17 hours for three days and 20 hours on the fourth day; from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m., with only time off to eat and change horses. On this trail drive Guernsey rode in the drag. With the dust, bad water, and long days, he lost 30 pounds on the trip.

From Hat Creek they continued on the Cheyenne to Deadwood Trail, down Sage Creek to Old Woman Creek and the South Fork of the Cheyenne River. From the river, they headed up Stockade Beaver Creek to Whoop-up Station, about 10 miles south of Jenney's Stockade. This was where they had planned to range their cattle and locate a camp.

The water proved to be so bad at Whoop-up that it was decided to drift the cattle on the trail back to where Lance Creek flows into the Cheyenne River. When they arrived back at this site, preparations were made for a permanent camp. After the cattle were turned loose to graze, several men were left there to cut logs and poles for buildings and corrals. the rest of the cowboys are returning to the Denver area.

Chris Stortz is at the 999 as foreman. Other cowboys there are Ed Wilson, Chuck Pierson, Happy Dougherty, Jack Evans, and Dogie Robinson. Their cattle were branded with a 9 on the left shoulder, side, and hip.

Information source: "Wyoming Cowboy Days", by Charles A. Guernsey, "Pioneering on the Cheyenne River" By Robbers' Roost Historical Society.)

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