There are many days when I’ve just had it with memes and emoticons, endless Google ads, thoughtless selfie-takers, high fructose corn syrup, Sheridan Avenue speeders and agonizingly slow Internet. Well, not many days. Just yesterday, which started with slow Internet, ended with being included in an insane group text that was filled with smiley-, laughy-, frowny- and weepy-face emoticons and was filled in between with one petty annoyance after another.
I needed a break. I left my smartphone at home and visited Old Trail Town, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer. Old Trail Town is a collection of 26 authentic cabins and buildings that show visitors what it was like to live in the Wyoming frontier. A visit to Old Trail Town is good therapy for over-stimulated, hyper-sensitive, wound-way-too-tight me.
Old Trail Town was started by a Wyoming native named Bob Edgar, whose passion for the history of the region and his work as an archaeologist for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West propelled his quest to preserve authentic frontier buildings, furniture and relics of the Old West. Through determination and innovation, he moved buildings from throughout the region to a site just outside of present-day downtown Cody. The site is significant, as it was where Buffalo Bill had originally intended to build his beloved town. Although Bob has since passed away, Old Trail Town has been preserved.
All the buildings are dated between 1879 and 1901. They line two sides of a rustic boardwalk with a dirt “road” in between to create the illusion of an authentic small Western town — or a John Wayne movie set.
There is a general store, saloon, livery barn, carpenter shop, school and multiple homestead cabins – including one used by Butch Cassidy and his Hole in the Wall Gang – and much, much more. The rooms are small, the furnishings utilitarian. But there is a hopefulness about them, too. The shelves of the store have been lined with ancient cans, the walls are decorated with antlers and animal skin rugs, the charmingly gaudy red wallpaper of the saloon provides the backdrop for imagining fancily dressed ladies entertaining customers of the evening.
I can picture myself in these buildings. I stand behind the counter in the general store and fill orders for sugar and coffee. I warm myself by the elaborately decorated cast iron stove. I snuggle under layers of hand-made quilts and animal skins on a bedframe I have built myself. I make a satisfying stew out of the elk I hunted. I bang out an acceptable rendition of “Skip-to-My Lou” on the saloon piano.
By the time I left Old Trail Town today, my silly frustrations had begun to fade and I felt as refreshed as I do when I take a long day in the woods. The frontier lifestyle was hard, but hopeful, with every new day an opportunity to make life just a little better.
Maybe things haven’t changed that much after all. My Internet is still slow, but I’m hopeful my new carrier will be better. I asked my friends to knock off the group texts, and I’m hopeful that they will comply. I scrubbed my computer’s history, and I’m hopeful that those Google ads will decrease.
I could have been a frontier woman, but I’m hopeful that I will make a positive impact on the modern world. Just like Bob Edgar.
Until next time, I’m loving life and deleting my Twitter account here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.