First off, if you enjoy hearing local stories about the places you drive through or visit on road trips and adventures and enjoy learning about geology, whether you’re a geologist by trade or someone who always found it interesting, then I would highly recommend buying the Roadside Geology Books! They make them for every state. Great to read from on long road trips. I’ve even had someone in another car reading it into a walkie talkie for others in the caravan to listen to as the landscape passes through the car windows. I thought I would share one of stories that really stuck with me.
This is one story of Crowheart Butte just east of Dubois, Wyoming. As you drive past the butte and see it off in the distance you can look around the wide vast plain and image the elk and bison that once made these prime hunting grounds for the Native Americans.
“”Crowheart Butte, the isolated butte north of the highway, is composed of claystone and sandstone of the Eocene Wind River formation. Behind its name is a colorful story. In 1866, Indian tribes in the area fought a battle to establish supremacy over hunting grounds in the basin. Chief Washakie led the Shoshone and Bannock tribes against the Crow Indians, led by Chief Big Robber. In an effort to save lives, Chief Washakie suggested that he and Chief Big Robber fight alone at the top of this butte — the winner would eat the other’s heart! Washakie won and the butte was named “Crow Heart.” In his old age, Washakie was asked if he actually ate Big Robber’s heart; he replied “youth does foolish things.”
From ‘Roadside Geology of Wyoming’ by David Lageson and Darwin Spearing
When you realize that stories like these are not made up for a good Western movie but instead actually happened, it puts a new perspective on the land. White men were not the first people to come here. Native Americans had been fighting wars over this beautiful territory long before we even discovered the continent and have seen great leaders like Cheif Washakie. I have heard many slightly different versions of the story, although the one above is my favorite. The sign on the side of the road tells another story:
Next time you are driving or exploring and staring off into the country side, imagine all the other eyes that have looked at that same scene you are seeing now and all the stories a place has to tell.