1904 Wyoming Comes to Broadway – Sheridan Media


the westtal Hotel, Buffalo, Wyoming, where the Virginian had his man.

In January 1904, a New play opened on Broadway in New York. In the Guernsey Gazette. Guernsey Wyoming, in May 1905, there is this blurb…The piece titled “The Virginian, presented last week to packed houses at the Broadway theater, with its scene in Wyoming and half a dozen cowboys at the center of the action.

Broadway is a long way from Sheridan, Wyoming, and one wonders why a Broadway play would be featured in a Wyoming newspaper.

But, in this case, the action takes place in Wyoming, part in Buffalo. The play was based on the book, The Virginian Cavalier of the Plains, written in 1902 by Eastern writer Owen Wister. The Virginian is considered the first Western novel, about a dark-haired cowboy, his love for the transplanted Vermont schoolteacher, and his quest for justice during Wyoming’s early days.

Wister spent many summers in Wyoming, hoping it would improve his health. In 1885, due to the recommendation of his friend and former classmate, Teddy Roosevelt, he stayed at the RV Ranch near Casper, Wyoming. In 1885, Wyoming was still a territory, and that was just before the Johnson County Range War.

Owen Wister’s Cabin in Medicine Bow, moved from Moose, Wyoming, where Wister spent many summers

During Wister’s travels, on train, stagecoach and on horseback, he encountered a range of characters and events that later became part of his most famous novel, The Virginian, and many short stories. While waiting for a train in Medicine Bow, the town Wister uses as a backdrop for much of the novel, Wister spends the night at a mercantile counter. This incident is reflected by its narrator in The Virginian, who also spends an uncomfortable night on the saloon counter. (The Virginian, by a little disappointment, finds himself a real bed.)

The Virginian takes place against the backdrop of the tensions that caused the Johnson County War. When Wister was looking for material for his books, he traveled to Buffalo and Kaycee, Wyoming, Johnson County’s main war zones. Although the characters are fictional, many are based on real people Wister knew.

In the novel, The Virginian (he has no other name), travels from Medicine Bow, Wyoming, to Buffalo, chasing down the thief, Trampas. He joins him at the Occidental hotel. It was here that Wister put his last chapter of his book, where The Virginian, although he knew the murder of the robber Trampas might end his hopes of marrying Mary Stark, knew that justice had to be served, and he distributed it. with lead.

The Old Medicine Bow Depot

Everyone wonders where the authors get the characters from their novels. Here is an explanation in an article in the Cheyenne Daily Leader in December 1905 which talks about a possible model for The Virginian.

Jennings is Jhe virginian sYeahs so himself in a story given to the Dsend Post. Former Carbon County District Attorney Sto printgs In sudden notoriety.Friends of H. Jennings, former Carbon County Clerk, will be somewhat surprised to learn that he is, in part, the original of “The Virginian.” They had not here in advance suspected this fact, but Mr. Jennings says it is, as the following Denver Post clipping shows: The article quotes the book, ‘lt was now The Virginian’s turn to bet or leave the game, and he didn’t speak right away. That’s why Trampas spoke up: “’Your bet. you – – “” ” ‘The Virginians gun came out and his hand was on the table, ‘”When you say that, smile.’ “THE VIRGIN.”

When you say that, smile. “The man whose tongue streaked those fateful words – which bore the death toll in every syllable is a visitor from Denver today.” This is Harry Jennings, Deputy United States Marshal of Rawlins, Wyo. He’s here on official business, which still wears his cloak of secrecy. “The armor of modesty that Iinvariably pprotected youhe a real nerve wlike penetrated enough last night for Mr. Jennings to allow the following to escape:. “‘I know Mr. Wister very well and handpinned it Ino means of obtaining the information on which his great novel was based. I was not an officer at that time, and when we hit Medicine Bow, I hit a poker gme. There was one guy in the game that I didn’t like – In fact, we had mixed up before that. During the Game i guess i was small slOuch, and he applied the term which Mr. Wister cites. I had heard it so often from friends, that for a moment I didn’t realize the difference when it came from the mouth of an enemy. Then all of a sudden I did, threw my gun at him and used the phrase, ‘When you say that, smile.

I had no idea at the time that Mr. Wister would use rumpus in a poker joint for a chapter in his story. He did, and my friends laughed at me a lot about it.

Mr. Jennings says that while many of the characters in “The Virginian” are drawn from current Wyoming residents, that “The Virginian” is a typesetting production of a number of characteristics of cow punchers and other characters. encountered by Mr. Wister during his stay in Wyoming.

Office of Owen Wister at the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow

In the Grand Encampment Herald, Grand Encampment, Wyoming, February 1904, an article speaks of the Virginian: Professor Sloason, of the university is now in New York, and tells the following about some of Wister’s characters in “The Virginian. Much of Wister’s material comes from Dr. Amos W Barber of Cheyenne, a former governor of Wyoming and one of the best storytellers in a country where good storytellers are rare. He appears in several Wister tales as Dr. Amery W. Barker.

The traveling preacher who wrestled with Virginia all night while in a state of sin is easily recognized by anyone familiar with Wyoming life. All the old settlers will say who the Virginian was, but the curious thing is that they all point to different men as the character. The fact that his adventures belonged to various men from Montana to Southern California. The ranch the Virginian was foreman is Cod Torreys in the heart of Wyoming known on the map as Embar.

From there, the location of the Bowleg Range (Awl Creek Range.) (However, in a letter to Johnson County historian Lott, Wister said “Bow-Legged Mountains” in the book was based on the Big Horn Mountains, and the town described sounds like Buffalo from the early days. .) Sunk Creek and other historic sites are easy. The change of babies is a true story and happened at the Goose Egg Ranch, now owned by Judge Carey, at the junction of the Poison Spider and the Platte, in 1887 or 1888.

Molly Wood is a guy. There are plenty of them in Wyoming. Whenever there are two or three children, even on a single remote ranch, a schoolmistress is sent there for part of the year at the cost of $540 to $50 a month, a very considerable proportion has come as “very sincere bachelors”, but have been driven, like Molly Stark Wood, to transfer their affections to others than their students.

The Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow. Built after the publication of the novel.

In Wister’s journals of his travels in Wyoming, he mentions many prominent ranchers and businessmen in the Casper and Buffalo area and no doubt drew inspiration from them in constructing some of his characters.

In The Buffalo Voice, February 1917, there is this article about Wister’s time in Buffalo. Here is an exerpt : …When Mr. Wister visited the country of The Virginian, as today, Buffalo was the only city “in the splendor of Wyoming space”. which is Johnson County. It was then an “inland town” far from the railway; now a single track creeps slowly towards this last outpost of the old frontier – perhaps even revving its engine to Main Street before this is published. …..until the railroad brought a boom to Sheridan about forty miles north, Buffalo was the largest and busiest town in northern Wyoming. There the freight cars from a hundred miles south distributed their supplies for the great outfits of cattle that ran from Powder to Yellowstone and there, in the winter season, hundreds of cowpunchers, idle and overflowing with raw spirits, were playing the game of life that Mr. Wister imagined for us.

Give Buffalo no alias, it is the city that the creator of the Virginian saw and knew even if at the time of his visits the rawness wore it…. Main Street had many small punctuation marks; the joys of creatures – the Cowboy Saloon, the Fashion and the Capitol: but the heaviest exclamation point of all was the Hotel Occidental. It still stands although neat brick walls have supplanted its log and clapboard facade, where Clear Creek brawls under the Main Street Bridge. Here, according to legend, Owen Wister met and befriended Henry Smith, a popular if justly notorious horse thief, who has since died. (M.) Quick, the current host of the Westerner, will even show pilgrims the place under the tall silver poplar by the stream where the wicked westerner and the eastern storyteller used to sit and spin . It was the Occidental Wister chosen as the background for the rapid climax of its story. There, the Virginian brought Molly Wood from the school in Bear Creek, and it was alone in her room that the girl from Vermont heard the three gunshots that signaled the development of a man code above. even beyond his love to influence or modify.

Modern buffalo – the city ​​with the prim electric lamps and the cement sidewalks and the boo of youthe engine whistles at its edges—displays a photographic reprint of the old Western log. ‘Where the Virginian got his man’ is the caption at the bottom.

The Occidental was built in 1880, it was renovated at that time, with authentic rooms equipped with all modern comforts. The Virginian Restaurant serves fine dining and stepping into the lounge is like stepping back in time. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Mercantile in Medicine Bow, where Wister spent an uncomfortable night on the counter.

The play, The Virginian, written in 1904 as a collaborative effort between Wister and Kirke La Shelle, starred Dustin Farnum as The Virginian. Ten years later, Farnum reprized the role in a film adaptation by Cecil B. DeMille. Since then, there have been three more films and a television series which is still running today on some channels.

Wyoming came to Broadway 117 years ago this month, “dark-haired cowboy” The Virginian, fought robbers and fell in love to packed houses on Broadway and across the country. And he had his man in Buffalo, Wyoming.

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