"Lost Soldier Pass?" Cindy Brown repeated as a question. "Where is it?" Lone Writer was looking for information on Lost Soldier Pass. Several days on the phone and on the Internet had produced very little. Finding it started out as simple curiosity, but gradually became one of those things he just could not let go. His call to the Wyoming State Archives in Cheyenne was taken by Cindy Brown, a reference archivist.
"I think it's north of Rawlins," Lone Writer offered. "I found a Lost Soldier Basin, a Lost Soldier Creek, and Lost Soldier Mountain Range, but there does not seem to be a pass over the mountains with that name."
A few days later, Lone Writer received an email from Brown. The email included the scan of a map nearly 100 years old showing the existing roads at the turn of the century. She had not found a Lost Soldier Pass but there was a Lost Soldier Station on the stage route from Rawlins to Lander. Lone Writer recalled that one reference put the meeting place at Lost Soldier Stage Station even though many others had called it Lost Soldier Pass.
The meeting in question occurred in October of 1899 (the date varies depending on the reference used). Butch Cassidy was 34 years old and wanted to retire from the outlaw lifestyle without going to jail. He first contacted Douglas Preston, an attorney he had previously paid to defend another outlaw named Matt Warner. He also contacted Judge Powers in Salt Lake City and Governor Wells of Utah.
He was offered amnesty if he would go to work as an express guard for the Union Pacific Railroad. The deal was to be officially signed at Lost Soldier Stage Station or Pass. Since there is nothing to suggest a pass ever existed with that name, Lone Writer decided to accept the stage station as the most likely meeting place.
Making that assumption was a giant leap for the mission to find the meeting place, but there was still a major mystery to solve. It seemed no one knew where the Lost Soldier Stage Station was. In fact, numerous phone calls and many hours of Internet surfing could not even produce the exact route the stage used. A journal was found written by Colonel Richard Hulbert Wilson in 1897, describing his ride on the stage. It included the names of the stage stations and numerous landmarks. The information in the journal was enough to get the tires rolling.
During the month of July, Lone Writer arrived in Lander on the way back from another adventure and stopped at the BLM office. He met Craig Bromley, a BLM archeologist. The Lander field office had done a lot of work in mapping the century-old stage route. Craig Bromley was able to provide maps and numerous stories that were very helpful, but the Lost Soldier Stage Station was not within the Lander Field Office boundaries. He had no information on where it was.
Lone Writer and co-driver Happy Jack followed the route provided by Craig Bromley, then drove to Rawlins for a visit with the BLM field office to see if they had any useful information. Rawlins had not done much work with the stage route; however, a young lady in the office knew exactly where the Lost Soldier Stage Station was and even produced a photo of a single building that still stands at that location.
With that information and the maps from the Lander office, Lone Writer and Happy Jack had enough to plot the route they would use. They were able to connect the dots between the stage stations using existing roads that could have been constructed over the original stage route.
Colonel Wilson's journal added life to the route. His descriptions of the ride pointed out landmarks along the way that have changed very little in 112 years. Although he does not provide the exact date, his journal is titled, "Stage Ride from Rawlins to the Wind River Boarding School, 1897."
In 1897, Rawlins was a railroad town with about 1,000 inhabitants. Wilson describes it as a, "bare, rocky, and treeless" town in wide open country. The ticket he purchased was $18. According to an inflation calculator, that is about $459 in today's money. It bought him a seat on a stage that would travel 30 hours with the only stops being to change teams and a few meals. He also mentions the wildlife along the way. Prairie dogs, owls, hawks, eagles, and antelope still roam that barren country even as they did 112 years ago.
Following the directions provided to us, we located Lost Soldier Stage Station. It sits beside a small creek. One small log building is all that exists. If you would like to get closer than the road, get permission from the local land owners.
The most interesting stage station we found was Meyersville. A ranch has grown up around it and is owned by the same family that ran the stage stop. The stage station burned down many years ago but the original corral still stands. The family had a photo of the original stage station and allowed Lone Writer to take a snapshot of that photo.
The navigation log included with this story will guide you every step of the way along the route Lone Writer and Happy Jack used. As for Butch Cassidy and his meeting with the railroad, it never happened. He waited for them but did not know they were delayed by bad weather. When they arrived, Cassidy had already given up and returned to his hideout at Powder Springs. He then went back to robbing trains and banks to finance his retirement in South America.
Trip Meter - Latitude North - Longitude West - Comments
0.0 - N41 57.4308 - W107 20.7219 - At a mile post labeled 13.79, there is a small pond on the left side of the road. That is Bell Springs. The first stage stop out of Rawlins was within 50 yards of the spring. Reset trip meter.
1.4 - N41 58.5931 - W107 21.4150 - Just past mile post 15, turn left on BLM 3206.
0.1 - N42 0.9762 - W107 25.8819 - Right fork.
4.9 - N42 4.8587 - W107 27.9556 - Entering wild horse management area. Almost three miles due west of this gate is Bull Springs. The Bull Springs stage stop was about two miles east of the actual spring. That would mean the stage stop was somewhere between this gate and the springs but not necessarily on a straight line.
6.6 - N42 6.3718 - W107 27.7965 - Cross a major graded road continuing north.
4.0 - N42 9.7862 - W107 28.7557 - Cross this road and continue northwest.
5.8 - N42 11.1551 - W107 29.8173 - Right fork.
7.4 - N42 12.2081 - W107 31.1275 - Right turn at the pipeline center.
7.8 - N42 12.4520 - W107 30.8779 - Left fork, cross wash, then left again.
8.2 - N42 12.6304 - W107 31.2420 - Right fork.
10.3 - N42 13.6535 - W107 33.2416 - Right across cattle guard.
10.5 - N42 13 8251 - W107 33.4084 - Left on County Road.
13.9 - N42 13.9289 - W107 37.4711 - The cabin across the creek on the left may be all that is left of the Lost Soldier Stage Stop.
1.9 - N42 13.9351 - W107 39.7697 - Right fork.
0.1 - N42 14.0270 - W107 39.9134 - Left after the creek. Follow this road on a fairly straight line going mostly west.
3.0 - N42 14.8071 - W107 43.1403 - The road curves to the right. Go under the power line then follow it.
2.5 - N42 16.5495 - W107 45.1414 - At this point we have connected to the wagon road per the maps from the BLM in Lander. Take the left fork, go a short distance and take the middle fork. This is also the Continental Divide Trail and has markers.
9.6 - N42 20.0522 - W107 51.7628 - Turn right on Crooks Gap Road and cross the cattle guard.
12.2 - N42 22.2962 - W107 51.2816 - Could this be the old stage station at Crooks Gap? It was somewhere in this area.
8.8 - N42 29.6520 - W107 49.5458 - Continue to Jeffrey City. Turn left on Highway 287.
4.1 - N42 30.5944 - W107 54.4790 - Turn right on the county road.
8.3 - N42 33.0411 - W107 58.0793 - The buildings on the right are on the Graham Ranch. The stage stop of Rongis was near that ranch. It is all private property.
7.0 - N42 33.6917 - W108 6.3366 - Myersville Station was on the right within the private property of the ranch. Turn around and go back to the last intersection.
0.8 - N42 33.9076 - W108 5.3959 - Turn left and cross the river on a pipe bridge.
2.3 - N42 34.9952 - W108 4.5823 - After the pipe bridge, turn left on side road. This is BLM access across private property. Stay on the main road which is the left fork after the cattle guards.
3.5 - N42 34.8003 - W108 5.8497 - When you see the oil well, take the left fork. The road going through is the only thing open to vehicles. On the other side of the walk in area, continue straight on the middle road.
4.8 - N42 34.5300 - W108 7.3324 - We are now back on the original stage route. Stay on the main road.
7.9 - N42 34.2012 - W108 10.9358 - This is Highway 135. The stage route crosses it but there are no gates on most of the fences. The best plan is to turn left on 135 to the rest area, then right on 287 to get to the next point.
0.0 - N42 33.6824 - W108 14.7521 - After the 45 mile post and over a hill, there is a snow fence on the left. It has a gap in it where the road goes through. Turn left on the grassy road. Close the gate behind you.
0.3 - N42 33.7055 - W108 15.1485 - Turn right on grassy road.
1.2 - N42 33.8434 - W108 16.2537 - Right on major graded road.
0.3 - N42 34.0664 - W108 16.3046 - Hard left at sign for Antelope Springs, then hard right just past the sign on grassy road.
0.4 - N42 34.2867 - W108 16.8162 - Left fork.
3.2 - N42 35.2203 - W108 18.8241 - Right to the highway. Then left onto highway. Reset meter at the highway.