Earhart and Kirwin

105182105411111CDPby Neva Bodin

One highlight on this year’s family camping trip was the town where Amelia Earhart was having a cabin built when she disappeared on her famous around the world flight over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937. The cabin was about three logs high when she disappeared, so they never finished it. She was having it built about a half mile west of the now ghost mining town of Kirwin, Wyoming, up a draw in some pretty tall mountains (over 10,000 feet).

dunrudearhart (1)
Carl M. Dunrud cutting Amelia Earhart’s hair at the Double D ranch. http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/bighorn3.html
The lodge at the Double D dude ranch.

She had stayed for a month in a cabin at the Double D dude ranch, then owned by Carl Dunrud. Amelia and her husband, George P. Putnam, had become friends with the Dunruds. Jim Dunrud, Carl’s son I believe, still participates in the annual celebration of the no longer operating Double D Ranch and Earhart each fall. This year’s celebration was going to take place the day after we had to leave the area. We were told Amelia was going to be there, in the cabin she stayed in, to visit with people!

The Wood River runs through the valley bisecting the town of Kirwin.

It is a beautiful valley where gold was discovered in 1885 by William Kirwin and a partner while out deer hunting. Silver and copper were also discovered there. The town is named Kirwin and once had about 200 families living there.

Kirwin is 33 miles from Meeteetse and 9,500 feet in elevation. A stagecoach carried passengers during this town’s prime from Kirwin to Meeteetse over some exceedingly steep hills until they reached the valley the last half of the route. We have ridden part of this trail on our four wheeler, and they must have had some muscular horses to pull that stage coach. The coach went to Meeteetse one day, and returned the next day. About a 45 minute ride now due to the last nine miles being a four wheel trail crossing the Wood River about five or six times, it would have taken all day by stage coach. Hardy people.

In 1907 the town received over 50 feet of snow in eight days according to the historical site: http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/bighorn3.html. On February 5th, a huge avalanche slid down these vertical, crumbly mountains, killing three people in the general store. Apparently deciding enough is enough, the people abandoned the town in the spring.

The ranger told us they left everything behind, (probably didn’t fit on the stage coach!), and now sight seers have carried everything off except a few items they have locked up in a shed. He even told of someone trying to sell an old stove to a museum who determined it was one of the stoves from this town and they couldn’t buy it as it was now considered stolen!

The rich mountains full of copper, and probably other minerals lining the valley where Kirwin sits.

There is now “millions of dollars’ worth of copper” in that mountain (on the south side of the valley where what is left of the town sits) a ranger told us on this trip, but the whole place is now owned by the Forest Service and will never be mined. We found small pieces of copper ore, (turning green with corroding) lying near one of the partially restored mine shafts.

The area is absolutely beautiful and my son-in-law and buddies have climbed those high, jagged peaks hunting for sheep and elk. The guys usually see some grizzlies in the fall, who are turning over rocks and getting fat on moths they find. I bet I could get fat on those little critters too, since I seem to double and store every calorie I take in.

A deer occupant in Kirwin.

Old cabins, outhouses, horse sheds and huge pieces of mining equipment dot the town. Deer and other critters now frequent the shelters that humans fled. Many visitors find their way back to this fascinating town each summer.

We feel the draw that Amelia must have felt for this beautiful area. Stabilization and restoration began in 1999 by various entities.


16 thoughts on “Earhart and Kirwin

  1. Earhart has always fascinated me. Now and then I’ll see a link to a news feature reporting that someone has again claimed to have found something on a Pacific island that came off her plane. Yet she probably wouldn’t have claimed the fascination of people had she accomplished her round-the-world flight and lived to be an old woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there is a piece of the plane that they’ve found I think. And I too wonder if she would have been as famous if there wasn’t that mystery surrounding her death. Must have been an adventurous woman however. And she fell in love with a beautiful piece of Wyoming for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, sometimes I have to remember there were people just like us with the same thoughts and desires in the far past, like getting her hair trimmed. It all seems mystical sometimes to me! That is a cute picture isn’t it? And the country is definitely beautiful there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You touched a cord wtih me. MIning, the towns around those sites and the mountains, are the stories I seem to be drawn to. Like you, I love those high peaks and beautiful valleys. Thank you for taking me there. Doris


    1. You’re welcome! I agree, we are drawn to those stories, which is why I love Wyoming so much even though I’m not a true native. And there’s nothing like the mountains for peace and inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fascinating place! It’s a shame thoughtless people have to carry off things from sites like this. I’m glad there are still at least remnants to commemorate this interesting chapter in the area’s history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a shame things grow legs at sites like this, but I understand the temptation too. I love sitting on the wooden platform of what I think is an old hotel there and imagining the people walking there as they did when it was a booming town. Thanks for commenting.


  4. Great post, Neva, very educational and naturally inspiring. So wonderful you could share all this with your family and then with us virtually. Wyoming is certainly filled with amazing places!


  5. I’m definitely leawrning a lot about Wyoming through your posts, Neva. It’s such a beautiful part of the world and I’m a great fan of mountains. The grandeur of the peaks in your photos is so spectacular. Earhart looks so young in the photo!


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