Sunday, August 20, 2017

The North American Eclipse - Day 2

This posting is dedicated to my friend Jack Share. He'll know why about mid-point down.

I'm in Crazy Casper, a little eclipse outpost in central Wyoming. There are tons of people. I'm just about ready to head out of town to my selected site. We are within 18 hours now. The time has come. The next time I report back in here, it will be over. The weather right now is mostly cloudy with puffy summer clouds. It looks like a localized thunder cell is developing west of town. Right where I am headed. This is good news - it will scare off the not so serious among the throngs. B oy, have I seen a lot of them today.

Started out at the Wyoming State Prison State Park. I saw this on the Wyoming atlas and it sounded interesting. It was beyond that. The far wing was built in 1873 for $30,000. It was restored in 1990 for $5,000,000. It is a beautiful building on the outside.

Remember Chuck with the broken vehicle in my first posting (you can view it here)? He and his wife finally got a rental vehicle in Moab and drove on up. I met them both at the prison and we toured it together.

 This would have been a very bleak existence. The floors and walls are made of steel and it gets very cold in the winter in Laramie.

 Close-up of a lock on a cell.

This gentleman is in for stealing three quilts, four blankets, four pairs of underwear, a coat and odds and ends. Actually, he is an out-of-state summer resident  who has volunteered here during the season and has learned the history of the place. He was a wealth of information. This is the "newer" wing of the prison built in the 1890's. The cells are 5'X7' and have two hammocks and two wooden stools. he night-soil bucket is the only other thing in the cell. Prisoners were not generally incarcerated that long - one two or four years. The guy who stole the household items got four years for it. Murderers sometimes got two years. Go figure.

Ball and chain. Incredible to think that the building was deteriorating before local citizens decided to save it. The exhibits are very well done and it is well worth a visit.

 The Ivinson House is now home to the Laramie Plains Museum. It was closed today. Time to get out of town and go and an eclipse!

North of Laramie looking southwest across the plains the Snowy Range. The feeling of openness is astounding out here and I found myself thinking of the Plains Indians all along the 148 miles to Casper.

 The Union Pacific follows the highway here and this is a very old historic route ac ross the plains.

This is the section dedicated to Jack Share because this is a fabulous roadside attraction!

To my absolute surprise, the road came upon and followed one of the most important and famous line of cliffs known as Como Bluff. The list of dinosaurs found at this locality is truly impressive (see it here). The story of the discovery of the site is no less interesting and this is where the famous "Dinosaur Wars" commenced between paleontologists Marsh and Cope in the 1880s. One was from from Yale University and the other from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. This is where the famous dinosaur Brontosaurus was first discovered. Don't miss this link about the animal.

The bluff with the quarries is in the background. The fossil bones come from the dinosaur-rich Morrison Formation.

Here is the highway sign explaining the significance of the site and it is one of the best desc bribed public signs I have ever encountered.

At the site is a building known as the World's Oldest Building.

It is made of dinosaur bones quarried locally. The story of the cabin can be read here.

A section of the building with Como Bluff in the background. Lots of good stuff to photograph here Jack!

The roads (rail and auto) looking west toward the town of Medicine Bow.

A giant wind farm takes advantage of the Wyoming wind north of Medicine Bow. There was obvious eclipse traffic now, just 22 hours from the start of totality. Lots of Colorado plates (Denver and Front Range folks), with a smattering of New Mexico and Texas. Saw a few Arizona's too.

A steel cut-out of a cowboy patriot. In Laramie I saw a truck with a bumper sticker, "President Trump, Deal With It." It's a different place up here.

I was now within 30 miles of Casper and was worried that the paved highway coming in from the south might be backed-up. So I spotted a dirt road that went right over the top of Casper Mountain. It is an anticlinal mountain, squeezed during the Laramide orogeny between 70 and 40 million years ago. That is why the strata are tilted here to the south (view to the east). The rocks are likely the Triassic Chugwater Formation, an age-equivalent deposit to the Southwest's Moenkopi Formation.

It turns out that Casper Mountain is really close, if not right along, the center line. This is the line where the eclipse lasts the longest. The path of totality is about 70 miles wide but if you are at the edge of that, totality will last just seconds. The center line is where you want to be.

Looking down from the top of Casper Mountain at the line of cars lining up.

Let the craziness begin!

Downtown Casper. Thanks to the Starbucks here for letting me use their Wi-Fi. That's the last report until after totality. Off to find my spot before dark.

2 comments:

Robert Thompson said...

Wayne--while the rest of us are visiting the middle son and will watch from his front yard (he lives about 300 yards off the centerline in Missouri),Thomas will be very near you having travelled up from Boulder. Keep an eye out for a beanpole. He still hasn't gained a pound. Hope you have clear skies.

Toni Kaus said...

Thanks for doing this, Wayne. I'm liking your stops along the journey.