Wyoming is one of my favorite states. If you haven’t been, its stunningly beautiful and a must-visit on your American cross country trip or fly there and spend a l’il time. A quaint place that may not be on the typical route is a town called Lusk Wyoming. Why Lusk and the surrounding area? A bit of background from nature to history to western monuments to a quaint motel.
Paleo Park: while hiking to fossil sites you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery and may see antelope, deer, birds, flowers and grasses, that are native to the area.
Cheyenne Deadwood Stage: In the not so distant past, Highway 85 was also known as the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stagecoach Line and Lusk is the home to the last stagecoach to run the line. The last coach departed Cheyenne on February 19, 1887 and was driven by George Lathrop.
From Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane to regular folks like you and me, the line was an important venue for early travelers. It also housed thousands of dollars in gold bullion and silver and was the brunt of more than one holdup attempt. The stages ran continually night and day, with stops made for meals and a change of horses. The trip between Cheyenne and Deadwood took three days by coach. Stage stations were located every 15 miles along the route and remnant today is the Hat Creek Station northeast of Lusk.
George Lathrop and “Mother Featherlegs” Monuments: One can drive west about 3 miles to the new rest area and see the George Lathrop Memorial Monument as Mr. Lathrop is laid to rest next to his beloved stage line. If you look directly to the west you will see a dirt road which is the Silver Springs Road and part of the old stage line. Fourteen miles to the south of the rest stop is the “Mother Featherlegs” monument. Mother Featherlegs was a roadhouse madam who lived along the line close to the burial site. She was murdered by “Dangerous Dick the Terrapin” and after a lengthy search, Dangerous Dick was also killed when trying to bring him back for justice and is laid to rest along side Mother Featherlegs.
The Stagecoach Museum: The Stagecoach Museum and Bookstore is located on Main Street and houses our famous stagecoach along with countless other historical memorabilia, including old buildings moved from the original town site of Silvercliff.
The bookstore also hosts hundreds of wonderful western history books. The original museum was opened in October of 1934 and is located behind the Hometown Country building. One can still see the rancher’s brands that were burned into the logs.
Fort Laramie: Located 40 miles south of Lusk is Fort Laramie with most of the actual fort buildings standing. It is worth the short drive just for the ice cold root beer they also offer for sale.
The Legend of Rawhide: The annual Legend of Rawhide event is held the second weekend of July and for the last 58 years has held audiences spellbound as one travels back in time to the days of high cowboy adventures. As “Legend” has it, the wagon train is headed west to the gold fields of California when one of the group decides he needs to “kill an injun” and the story goes on from there. The story is actually a love story where the girl doesn’t get the guy in the end and one can watch the thrill of local talent riding bareback, driving wagons and even flaming arrows. It is worth the time to take in the Legend.
Fort Robinson: Forty miles to the east of Lusk near Crawford, Nebraska, one can see another of the old forts – Fort Robinson. This fort is the place where Sitting Bull turned himself in and met an untimely death. Close to Fort Robinson near Harrison, Nebraska is the Agate Fossil Beds that are also worthwhile viewing.
The Oregon Trail Ruts and Register Cliff: Guernsey is located 45 miles southwest of Lusk and is the home to the Oregon Trail Ruts where one can still see visions of the past with wagon ruts and Register Cliff where many pioneers carved their names in the sandstone on their way west in the 1800’s.
For something a little out of the ordinary, check out the Covered Wagon Motel as a place to stay in Lusk. It is a cozy, eclectic motel in a small quaint western town that has an abundance of interesting American history.
The motel is a great half way point for Sturgis and since many people travel from Denver to the Black Hills of South Dakota, they are located almost exactly in the middle.