“What is the moment in history you would like to witness in person.” ~Jerry Seinfeld to Ricky Gervais
I loved the responses from the question above that I posted to my Facebook account awhile back. Here are a few: Jen: “Elvis 68 Special in Studio”, that makes me feel old, I was already born then!! In an email from a friend: “When Moses parted the Red Sea.” In a conversation with my husband, “Wow, I don’t know!” My neighbor Judy, “The signing of the Declaration of Independence.” My faraway relative by marriage Patricia, “Jesus Christ teaching.” My friend Mary: “The Lewis and Clark expedition.” What a powerful question and I still can’t believe that came out of Jerry Seinfeld’s mouth to Ricky Gervais! It just goes to show history touches all of us in different ways!
What is the history of this wild band who live in a wilderness area in Wyoming named after a cowboy who arrived in 1879 driving 2800 cattle and was trail boss to a crew of eight men and a cook?
The first cattle roundup of all the stockmen in that area was to be held in 1881, and at a meeting at the Pitchfork ranch, it was decided for uniformity to name various landmarks around the country, so in 1881 McCulloch Peaks was named after the trail boss cowboy, Peter McCulloch.
Peter McCulloch was responsible for naming other landmarks in the area—Carter Creek, Carter Mountain, and Carter Ranch are named after his boss, Judge William A. Carter. Peter McCulloch also named landmarks in the peaks area, Virgin Creek (later changed to Whistle Creek) and Coon Creek named after the cook that accompanied McCulloch on his first cattle drive to that area.
McCulloch spent over twenty years working Wyoming ranches in the Big Horn Basin area. He was from Scotland, born there in 1839, descended from royalty but not wealthy, lived in the Cardoness Castle until April of 1853 when his entire family (mom, dad, a brother and four sisters) departed from Liverpool England on a ship called The Great Western, Peter was fourteen.
McCulloch began working for Judge William A. Carter sometime in 1864 after having fought in the Civil War and surviving several encounters with Native Americans while working on a survey party for the Union Pacific railroad responsible for the horse camps.
On top of the second highest peak in the wilderness area named after him lies a bronze survey marker encased in concrete, the survey marker bears the name McCulloch, 1950.
I share this story for several reasons:
1) To give teeth to how important it is to know facts before telling the next person. McCulloch Peaks in modern day writings has been somehow reconstituted to McCullough Peaks. Today in the time of speed and social media it is even more important before hitting the share button, to know you are sharing truth. Don’t assume. Making an assumption makes a complete Ass U Me. (Ass U Me—the only thing I remember from my seventh grade sex education class *palm plant against face* but is filled with truth.)
2) To share interesting history about areas this body of work was captured in. This colorful area, McCulloch Peaks, is rich in history, even further back than the 1800’s. The McCulloch Peaks is also home to some of the oldest fossil remains, the dawn horse was found here. The Dawn horse, a paleontological page marker and index fossil, the Eocene—the dawn time, the beginning of humans, the explosion of life. Paleontologists have marked the beginning of this epoch of time in accordance with the date of appearance of this earliest known horse; that’s how important horses were and still are to that science that reads the rocks, paleontology. Not only horses but the earliest known fossil of a euprimate—a true primate is found in McCulloch Peaks at a place called Polecat Bench! My romantic heart likes to imagine that this is where the spiritual connection began between horses and humans, 56 million years ago.
3) What part of history would I like to witness? That question is loaded, powerful and thought provoking for me, but at this moment and focusing solely on the wild horses, I would like to witness the historical moment in time that would settle the debate about America’s wild horses. What happened to them 15,000 years ago? Did they really disappear completely from this continent? Or are we making assumptions? Just because there is absence of evidence, does that mean we assume there is evidence of absence, that they were never here? Yes, ponder that!
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