Veduawoo and Pole Mountain is Cheyenne’s back forty. We love to play up there, all with our different passions: fishing, four-wheeling, camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, skiing, sledding or just messing around on the rocks.
The rocks are monumental sculptures, painted with lichens in green, orange and black. The beavers have crafted jewels to reflect the sky. There are the twisty groves of aspens, forests of ramrod straight pines. It’s rare not to see deer and antelope.
If you’ve wandered around much, enjoying the wonderful, you have probably stumbled across some of the weird.
After all it was a "Target and Maneuver Range" for more than 50 years. The Army, Air Force, ROTC and National Guard guys all had some fun blowing things up and shooting things down. There once was a headquarters with 18 buildings.
And before that there was the town of Tie City. Telegraph poles were taken even earlier for a telegraph line along the Overland Trail. A highway man lived up on Brown’s Landing, robbing travelers. Uranium mines were blasted from the rock. There was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The Happy Jack Ski area operated for many years and there was a lodge where the summit rest area is now.
Frankly, there is a lot of weird stuff to be found.
Here’s a little "treasure" hunt of some odd places I‘ve run across or discovered by searching old records and scouring the ground. Interested? See how many you can find.
A GPS would get you there the fastest. But the UTM coordinates (NAD27) can be used with a USGS topo quad. Or just follow the directions. You will need a good map.
By giving you these locations, I’m trusting these sites to you. Let’s leave them be so we can take our kids and grandkids there for years to come. Please don’t kick a stick or chock a rock. Besides, if you disrupt any artifacts, the mummy’s curse will follow you for the rest of your life.
The Forest Service archeologist asked me to remind you that the use of metal detectors at these sites is illegal. It would also be stupid. One trowel jabbed into a live shell could just blow you up.
So, whether you go by truck, ATV, mountain bike or by foot, have fun. Let me know what you discover. If you find any other weird and wonderful stuff put a comment at the bottom.
Merritt Hill concrete observation bunker.
(Named after Wesley Merritt, a veteran of the Indian Wars, commander of Fort D.A.Russell from 1867 to 1877 and again from 1879 to 1880 and later Commandant at West Point.) Take FS 701 north from Happy Jack. Turn right just before the corral on FS 701G. (UTM 0471282 / 4563977)
Bisbee Hill concrete observation bunker.
(Named for Major William H. Bisbee who was also at Fort Russell in the 1800’s.) From Happy Jack take FS 701 north. Turn left on FS 701C. Keep right at each intersection to the end of the road. It’s really not on Bisbee Hill. (UTM 0469031 / 4566467)
Two collapsed bunkers with log roofs, connected by trench work.
A well head, a rock wall, a few foundations and the traces of old roads are all that remains of what once was the military command post. From Happy Jack go south on Blair Road (FS 707). It’s north east of the "Headquarters Trail Parking", across the road. (UTM 0467700 / 4563149)
A dozen or so old rifle pits or shelters from a time prior to WWII.
A few of the tin roofs and walls remain, perhaps the most preserved of any of the old sites. Just north of Happy Jack at the big bridge over South Lodgepole Creek. Park on Happy Jack and walk, going over or under the barbwire fence. (UTM 0467580 / 4566790)
Graves dating from long ago.
Buried here is the body of a young boy struck by lightning nearby as he rode to Laramie on the Cheyenne Pass Road and the infant daughter of local homesteader, Ben Black. It looks like there is at least one more grave. FS 701 north, Left on 712. Right on 702. Right on 714. Off the road in a copse of trees to the right shortly before 713. The rock cross near the road points to the graves. (UTM 0472410 / 4569464).
Laycock Spring and aspens carved by Spanish herders in a graceful script.
North off Happy Jack on FS 703, turning through the Tie City overflow parking area. At junction of 714 stay on 703, a very rocky, high-clearance track. Turn left on 703G, continue for a quarter mile. (UTM 0461772 / 4571674)
This rock once was on the stage road between Laramie and the town of Sherman, now only a site. It was moved here in 1970 when the rest area was built, both to protect it from theft and to allow more people to see it. It could still be made out in 1967: “Harry Satlak C.R. Laramie 9 1/2 -> <- Sherman 9 1/7" The rock is in a place of honor by some trash cans at the summit rest area. (UTM 0463540 / 4564951) The site the rock was taken from is marked with a bronze plaque and is off of FS 726. The bed of the stage road is still visible, although overgrown. (UTM 0462008 / 4566443)
Happy Jack Ski area.
There really was a rope tow pulling skiers up the open run. Two old light baffles high up on pines are all that remains. From Happy Jack turn south at the Happy Jack Recreation Area, then the first right into "Winter Sports Parking". (UTM 0464424 / 4566802). To the east is the bottom of what once was an iced toboggan run (UTM 0464840 / 4566708)
Vedauwoo Glen performance stage steps.
The University of Wyoming Players gave "historical spectacles" here in this natural amphitheater. Take FS 720 into Vedauwoo either from I-80 or from Happy Jack, going south on FS 700 to FS 720. Park at the end of the "Box Canyon Day Use Area". Walk the paved trail into Box Canyon, continuing on the gravel trail. Cross the foot bridge at the end and look to the left on the hill for rocks placed in a row, marking the old trail. See if you can follow the jack-hammered tread, carefully placed rock steps and stubs of steel posts up the stairs to the stage and then beyond to the lookout. In our tennis shoes there are easier ways but for women in long dresses and leather-soled shoes, this was the genteel approach. (UTM 0468469 / 4556924)