If you met me at the Reference Desk, you'd be surprised to find that I spent my vacation on the back of a big, red Harley Davidson, touring Colorado and Wyoming for 10 days.  At 64, I'm still a fledgling 'Biker Babe,' and this was my first long-distance trip.  I was a little apprehensive about those wide, open spaces, but with a little 'wild West' research in advance, the scenery really came to life!

The first leg of our trip took us to Estes Park, over Trail Ridge Road.  Roadside History of Colorado was the perfect book to learn about the early days of the Big Thompson Canyon, when Indians called it a trail.  By 1902, developing tourism in Estes demanded a road, and by 1904 the trip between Loveland and Estes could be made in a mere two days!  Northwestern Colorado became ranching country in the late 1800's, but it also became a war zone as cattlemen and sheepmen vied for the grass and water of the open range.  Both men and animals lost their lives well into the 1920's before boundaries were established.  I saw the grasslands differently knowing that!


It's hard to decide what to bring and what to leave behind when your vehicle has limited carrying capacity.  The Roadside History of Wyoming was one book I just couldn't leave at home.  The trappers along the Green River, the Wind River Reservation history, and the cemetery where Sacajawea is buried, the tie hacks around Dubois and how they provided logs for the railroads... The women coming west in their covered wagons faced much harder choices of what to leave behind than I did!


The story of The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate was fascinating.  Homesteading brought immediate conflict with the cattle barons, and Ellen Watson (a.k.a. 'Cattle Kate,' according to the legend) became the victim of wealth and range as she set up house-keeping on the vast eastern plains of Wyoming, just west of modern day Casper.

More Book Titles:

Sweetwater Gold: Wyoming's Gold Rush, 1867-1871

The Cherokee Trail: Bent's Old Fort to Fort Bridger

I Didn't Know That About Wyoming

The Wire That Fenced the West- As it turns out, the invention of wire, and especially the kind with little barbs on it, had a dramatic impact on the wild West.  Check out this great old favorite for more on that story.

We were thrilled to see 5 moose, 2 mama grizzlies with their cubs, and at least 2 eagles along the way, and I'm looking forward to more long-distance adventures on our Harley soon.  Stop by the Reference Desk or ask a Librarian on the floor to find books that bring the landscape of your next trip to life.

National Trails Interpretive Center

Historical Marker Database

Riding America's Backroads - 20 Top Motorcycle Tours

Written by Elaine on August 19, 2011


Mark on August 21, 2011


I hate Harleys. Don't they sell motorcycles with mufflers?

BUT, I loved your story and your trip. Amazing and wonderful. I had never heard of Cattle Kate before.

Thanks very much.


Thanks, Mark! You know, of course, that the loud mufflers are an 'after market' add on. So Harley's aren't all that loud comin' off the line! Keep the shiny side up!

Emily on August 23, 2011


yay! what a trip that sounds amazing! these resources are great, im just geeked about the Historical Marker Database!


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