The Saratoga Sun -

Cherokee Trail trek Saturday


History buffs and adventurers are invited to explore the southern route of the Cherokee Trail across the historic Big Creek Ranch Saturday, Aug. 26, during this summer’s final trek sponsored by the Saratoga Historical & Cultural Association (SH&CA).

Interested persons are asked to meet at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Saratoga Museum, 104 E. Constitution Ave., across from Saratoga airport. The motorcade will leave at 9 a.m. for the ranch located 18 miles southeast of Encampment.

Guest speakers Chilly Rollison, American Indian studies scholar and local Indian expert, and Mark Dunning, Big Creek Ranch manager and president of the Grand Encampment Museum board of directors, will join tour guide Dick Perue to relate the history of the Cherokee Trail as well as Indian activity on the ranch. Other valley historians, including Candy Moulton and Ken Swanson, are planning to provide additional information.

In addition to exploring the trail, visiting a grave site and viewing a “war lodge” located on the Big Creek Ranch, folks attending will receive a pamphlet with photos and history of the area.

Participants are encouraged to carpool in high profile vehicles, take plenty of water, a lunch, walking stick, and lawn chair, plus wear boots, a hat and appropriate clothing.

To sign up for the trek, call Saratoga Museum at 307-326-5511, e-mail [email protected], or visit the museum in the old Saratoga & Encampment Railway depot. Folks are urged to sign up right away. Cost is $20 for members of the SH&CA and $25 for others.

Three men killed

by Indians

One of the stories to be related during the coming history trek to the Big Creek Ranch was penned by Gay Day Alcorn in her acclaimed book, “Tough Country”. She wrote:

“The oldest pioneers recalled the men killed in the Big Creek area in 1870. Early in the summer, a group of miners congregated on the creek near what is now known as Big Creek Ranch, placer mining close to the mountain. Before long the Ute Indian, Colorow, arrived and demanded that the men leave within a given time which all but three of them did. Soon a party of 20 men from Cheyenne appeared. These men had been looking for gold in the Snake River area. In a matter of minutes all heard gun shots. Around a nearby ridge the miners found Colorow and his band of Indians busily attacking a host of imaginary Arapahoes. The men were quite perplexed because it was well known there were no Arapahoe for at least 100 miles. Colorow quickly asked Colonel I. W. French, one of the Cheyenne prospectors, for the use of his gun. French said that he just might shortly need it himself. The charade was over, and the Indians hurried off to the west, knowing in minutes the miners would discover the bodies of Shipmen, Van Dyke and Dutch Jake, miners they had just killed near the river.

“The Indians were soon trotting north along the Cherokee Trail then they confronted three trappers, Frank Marrion, Joe Brun, and John Scott. The Indians were still smarting because they had not been able to kill 20 miners up Big Creek way with their own guns. The mutilated bodies of these three unfortunate trappers were found later and buried by John H. Mullison and Tom Castle ...”

Trek presenters will relate this and other similar accounts of the incident as well as try to establish if three grave-like rock piles are indeed the burial places of the three trappers killed by Indians in the 1870s. Input will be sought from those attending the Saratoga Museum tour of the southern route of the Cherokee Trail across the Big Creek Ranch.


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