Special events featured during Butch Cassidy Days, June 26-27 | TheFencePost.com

Special events featured during Butch Cassidy Days, June 26-27

Ella Marie Hayes
Saratoga, Wyo.

Photos courtesy Noel V. Hayes, Jr.Restoration of the Broom Factory was completed in 2009 and is now open daily where volunteers demonstrate broom making with the replica equipment copied from antique equipment which is on display. Some of the old equipment is the original pieces used at WTP. The building is now called "1892 Prison Industries Building" to reflect other industries practiced by prisoners in addition to broom-making.

Butch Cassidy Days promises to provide extra excitement for children and adults alike on Saturday, June 26, and Sunday, June 27, at Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site in Laramie, Wyo.

4-H Club members will display their livestock and sponsor dummy roping on Saturday, while younger kids will also have a chance to ride tractors, participate in a Stick Horse Rodeo, and try their luck in the Free Money Grab both days.

All ages can step back in history at a Medicine Man Show both days. Horses will draw attention to the Horse Barn’s 100th Anniversary on Sunday afternoon when Terry Bison Ranch Trick Mustangs will perform, followed by a Draft Horse Demonstration.

All of the agriculturally slanted activities bring to mind the second and equally important focus now featured in exhibits at WTP since the University of Wyoming Stock Farm Era constitutes over 70 years of WTP’s history. When UW acquired the former WTP grounds in the early 1900s several existing buildings were adapted for other livestock, but the horse barn was built to provide room for horses, storage of hay and grain, and carriages.

Exhibits are being developed in the Horse Barn’s lower floor featuring historic carriages, and highlighting UW Stock Farm programs dealing especially with Percheron breeding stock, as well as other cooperative experiments with USDA, and the military Remount Service. The newly renovated Boxcar House features a comprehensive display of photos and information telling of many other agricultural experimental programs carried on during the Stock Farm Era.

The history of ranching in the Cowboy State is a story of its own, and WTP’s Ranchland exhibit pays tribute to early pioneers through a display of recreated historic buildings including a furnished log homestead, barn, accompanying farm structures, school and church. A nearby Frontier Town with Old West style buildings adds even more historic atmosphere to WTPSHS grounds.

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However, the Wyoming Territorial Prison built in 1872, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the 1875 Warden’s House, will remain a showpiece of WTPSHS. Both historic buildings, beautifully restored to accurately reflect the late 1880s time period, are also open daily for the summer months.

The recently restored Broom Factory, renamed “1892 Prison Industries Building” to reflect other industries practiced by prisoners in addition to broom-making, is another important stop visitors will not want to miss. Replicas of the actual historic broom making equipment are used by volunteers to demonstrate the prisoners’ techniques of broom making.

The prison industries were not for prisoner rehabilitation as one might expect, but were an economic necessity to cover prison expenses. Records show that in 1900 when the broom-making industry was at its peak 25-50 prisoners worked 10-hour shifts and created 720 brooms a day. The brooms were not only sold in nearby locations but were shipped by boxcar to distant cities and shipped overseas.

Butch Cassidy Days, named for WTP’s most infamous inmate, will also feature guest speaker, Bill Betenson, great nephew of Cassidy, who will talk both afternoons about Butch’s life in the West, his incarceration at WTP, and his second criminal career in Bolivia. Betenson will cover family views and show family photos including Butch’s ranch in Bolivia. This is Bill’s fourth annual appearance as featured representative of Butch Cassidy at WTP.

Readers should plan to visit WTPSHS during the last weekend of June to enjoy Butch Cassidy Days that will be packed with historical, educational, and fun-filled activities. The park buildings are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer season, and admission is adults $5; teens 12- 17, $2.50, and children under 11 are free.