Carbon County Museums welcome Michael Amundson
Amundsen will tour Carbon County, Grand Encampment and Little Snake River museums later this month
June 22, 2023
Three Carbon County Museums are included on the schedule of historian Michael Amundson, the University of Wyoming Press’ (UWyoP) first author, who is touring Wyoming this month to present a program featuring UWyoP’s first book, “The Art and Life of Merritt Dana Houghton in the Northern Rockies, 1878-1919.”
Initial presentation in the county will be Monday, June 26, at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Encampment Museum at 807 Barnett Ave. in Encampment, followed by a program Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Little Snake River Museum at 12 County Road 561 in Savery, and concluding Wednesday evening at 7:00 in the Carbon County Museum located at 904 W. Walnut St. in Rawlins.
Amundson’s book—for the first time—brings together more than 200 bird’s-eye sketches created by pen-and-ink artist Merritt Dana Houghton between 1891 and 1915. These sketches capture towns, ranches, mines, businesses, historic sites, and animals in Wyoming, northern Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
Copies of the book are now available at all three locations.
The tour features places where Houghton worked and sketched including many sites in Carbon County. In 1902 until 1904, he focused his attention on the Grand Encampment Mining District, Saratoga area and the Upper North Platte River Valley.
“All of these locales contributed to images for the book,” Amundson says. “I’m genuinely excited to see all of the places Houghton sketched and worked in.”
The results of Houghton’s work in Carbon County culminated in the publication of two books, “A Portfolio of Wyoming Views: The Platte Valley and the Grand Encampment Mining District (1903)” and “Views of Southern Wyoming: Copper Belt Edition (1904)”, as well as artwork for newspapers and history books being written during that time.
Many of his original sketches and other artwork still hang in several homes and businesses locally as well as being displayed at the Grand Encampment Museum, plus preserved in the archives of the GEM.
All interested persons are invited to attend any or all of these presentations and if you have a Houghton piece of art, bring it along to share.
Local historian and former “Saratoga Sun” printer and publisher Dick Perue announced this week that he has discovered in his collection two rare engravings of Houghton’s work—Town of Saratoga in 1903 and Grand Encampment Mining District—and will donate these only known printing plates still in existence to the Grand Encampment Museum during Amundson’s presentation in Encampment.
Amundson is a professor of history at Northern Arizona University. He is the author of “Yellowcake Towns: Uranium Mining Communities in the American West”; “Passage to Wonderland: Re-photographing Joseph Stimson’s Views of the Cody Road to Yellowstone National Park, 1903 and 2008”; and “Wyoming Revisited: Re-photographing the Scenes of Joseph E. Stimson.” He also is the co-editor of “Atomic Culture: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
He received his B.S. in history and journalism in 1988 and his M.A. in American studies in 1990, both from the University of Wyoming. He earned his Ph.D. in history, with a focus on the American West, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1996. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Cowboys basketball team that reached the 1986 NIT championship and the Sweet 16 of the 1987 NCAA Tournament. Local fans who watched him play basketball for the Cowboys fondly referred to Mike as the “Big Lugg”.