Casper

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Uncle Eddie Hein was a soft-spoken man, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t a funny man. He loved to laugh, and he had a great laugh too. That is probably one of the things I miss most about Uncle Eddie…that and the great smile that went with the great laugh. He loved practical jokes…like pretending to give my husband, Bob Schulenberg, his nephew, a buzzcut in the 70s, when long hair was the style. I think Bob knew that the clippers weren’t plugged in, but he went along with the joke anyway. It is my guess that my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg put Eddie up to the joke, almost hoping he would actually cut Bob’s hair. Of course, Eddie would never have done that, but it was a funny thought anyway. It was a typical kind of joke Eddie would pull on people.

Eddie is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s half brother, and so it was an annual trip from Casper, Wyoming to Forsyth, Montana that the Schulenberg’s took each year, to keep the family close to the aunt, uncles, and cousins that lived there, as well as to my father-in-law’s mom, Vina Hein, and step-dad, Walt Hein. When Bob and I got married, we wanted to continue that tradition, and I have always been glad we did. My girls had the privilege of knowing some of the most amazing people through those trips. I have always believed in the importance of family, and have hopefully instilled those same traditions on my kids and grandkids.

Eddie was a hard-working man, who worked hard in the coal mines, and then came home to work hard around the home he shared with his wife, Pearl, and children, Larry and Kim. He turned their smaller mobile home into a very nice house, with plenty of room for the whole family. He and Pearl also raised a wonderful garden, and canned lots and lots of vegetables. That garden saved the family lots of money in grocery bills. Canning I could do, but gardening…not so much, so I don’t mind telling you that I was a little bit jealous of those who can grow gardens, vegetable or flower.

Eddie was a mechanic by trade, and never really wanted to be a rancher, although he could do that work too. I think Eddie could do anything he put his mind to. He was a very talented Jack of all Trades. The Forsyth area is abundant in river rock, because of the Yellowstone River that flows through town. Eddie built a beautiful fireplace in their home out of that river rock. It was just stunning, and one of my favorite parts of the home he built. It not only heated the home, but it made it look amazing too. Eddie also helped my father-in-law when he was building the house he built in the Casper area.

Eddie went home to be with the Lord on October 16, 2019, and we all miss him very much. In my mind’s eye, I can still visualize his smiling face and his great laugh. Today would have been Uncle Eddies 78th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Eddie. We love and miss you very much.

Andrew Carnegie is a name most people have heard of, at least when you think of places like Carnegie Hall, but that isn’t something that has much in common with places like Wyoming…or does it? Andrew Carnegie was born to Margaret Morrison Carnegie and William Carnegie in Dunfermline, Scotland. The family lived in a typical weaver’s cottage with only one main room, consisting of half the ground floor, which was shared with the neighboring weaver’s family. It was here in very humble beginnings that Andrew Carnegie made his debut. When Carnegie was 12, his father had fallen on very hard times as a handloom weaver. To add to the family’s predicament, the country was in starvation. His mother helped support the family by assisting her brother and by selling potted meats at her “sweetie shop,” making her the primary income in the family. The family was struggling to make ends meet and they knew they weren’t going to make it…at least not in Scotland. The Carnegies then decided to borrow money from George Lauder, Sr and move to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in the United States in 1848 for the prospect of a better life. In September 1848, Carnegie arrived with his family in Allegheny. That was not the end of their struggles, however. Carnegie’s father struggled to sell his product on his own, but eventually father and son both received job offers at the same Scottish-owned cotton mill, Anchor Cotton Mills. At least they had some income, meager as it was.

Young Andrew Carnegie was destined for better things, however. In his adult life, Andrew Carnegie enjoyed success in businesses ranging from oil to railroads to steel, Carnegie became one of the wealthiest Americans of his era. After selling off his businesses and retiring in the early part of the 20th-century, Carnegie spent the remainder of his life giving away much of his enormous wealth. It was this portion of Carnegie’s life that would forever tie him to Casper, Wyoming, and to many other towns across the country. Casper’s connection to one of America’s most generous philanthropists can be found right on the corner of Durbin and Second Street downtown…the Natrona County Public Library.

In an incredible display of generosity, Andrew Carnegie’s library foundation helped build over 1,700 public libraries around the country. As word got out, in 1905, Casper mayor Wilson Kimball wrote to the Carnegie Foundation hoping to secure a grant to start a library in his dusty, rapidly growing town. His letter read, in part, “We have a town here of at the present time about 1,500 population and there is probably not a more cosmopolitan town, of its size, in the United States. A Carnegie Library here would benefit a class that are seldom benefited by such institutions, and would afford a quiet, wholesome and instructive resort of character that are too scarce in these western range towns.” The Carnegie Foundation agreed to gift Casper, Wyoming a $10,000 grant. Land for the library was donated to the cause. The small, yet elegant design for the building ended up coming in over budget. The Carnegie Foundation was a bit frustrated, but with a few concessions from Casper, the foundation agreed to another $3,000 to help finish the project. By 1910 at the edge of town, Casper’s library was completed. The building with its classical design, high quality masonry and three domes stood out in the town. Casper was basically still a prairie, with muddy streets and stick buildings in 1910.

Before long, the library was obviously to small, and in the early 1920s a new design was seamlessly integrated into the original building, adding much needed space for events and collections. After the World Wars, Casper began to grow rapidly, and a prosperous Casper, added a modern addition which opened in 1952. By the late 1960s, the original sections of the Carnegie building had become obsolete and fallen into disrepair. A good portion of the old building had been relegated to storage. Sadly, in 1970, the original building was demolished and the final addition we have today was built. It was the end of the visible Carnegie connection to Casper. In all, Wyoming built a total of 16 Carnegie libraries. Ten remain.

My grand-niece, Katy Balcerzak’s fiancé, Dylan Herr is co-owner, with his dad, Robert Herr, of Red Wing Shoes. They have stores in Casper, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Brighton, Colorado. Recently Dylan, Katy, and their precious son, Max moved from Brighton to Casper to run the new store here. The only bad thing about that is that, at least for now, Dylan is working 7 days a week, and periodically traveling to Cheyenne and Brighton to check on things there. The Herr family has owned a Red Wing Shoe Stores franchise for three generations. They continue to expand and grow in sales.

Dylan and Katy recently bought their first house here in Casper, and he has become quite the handyman. He put together a swing set for Max, which as we all know, is not the easiest of projects. He has also completely transformed the yard at the house, which needed a lot of work to take it from dead weeds to green grass. Being a homeowner is, as most of us know or find out quickly, a rather large and never ending job. Houses, while wonderful to have, are always in need of some kind of work. Dylan seems to have a knack for that kind of thing, so I’m sure those little projects are really rather fun. It’s always exciting to put your own stamp on your new home, and to show your unique style. Dylan and Katy have been doing just that since they moved back to Casper. 

Dylan is a very patient and kind person. That is truly what made Katy love him so, and why Max thinks he is the greatest daddy on Earth. Having moved to Casper, Dylan misses his parents, Robert and Dee Dee Herr, and his brother Tyler Herr and his wife, Amber, and they miss him, Katy, and Max very much. They are all a close family, including the grandparents, and that makes a move hard. It’s always hard to live far from your kids…especially when the grandchildren begin to show up. Dylan’s parent and brother are all very close to Dylan’s little family, and it makes it hard, but thankfully it isn’t too far away. they can get up for weekends and such once in a while, and that helps a lot. Dylan and Katy are starting this new adventure in her home town, and we are very happy for them. Today is Dylan’s birthday. Happy birthday Dylan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, James Renville met the love of his life, Manuela Ortiz a couple of years ago, and from that point forward, they knew that it was love. Theirs was not the easiest of courtships, because Manuela worked in New Jersey, and James lives in Casper, Wyoming. That was not a deterrent for James, however, because when it comes to the perfect one…love will find a way. The good news is that James loves to travel, so traveling to see this girl who has captured his heart was no hardship at all. The only hardship was leaving her to come back home.

James and Manuela longed for the day when they would no longer have to be separated by the miles between their jobs. When love is real, you never want to be so far apart. Your hearts are as one, and you know that it is time to begin to build your own life together. That is exactly how James and Manuela felt. While their relationship began with distance making things difficult, it did not stop love from growing, and now they can put those miles behind them, and go forward as one. Their families are so excited for them to become man and wife.

A short time ago, in October, James popped the question, and Manuela said yes. With that one little word, James’ life suddenly felt complete. Manuela was the girl of his dreams, and the one his mother had been praying for to complete her son. In fact, Manuela is so sweet, that our whole family loves her dearly, and we can’t wait to make her a part of our family. Well, today is that day. James and Manuela have chosen Bear Trap Meadow as the site for their wedding, and they really couldn’t have picked a prettier site. The excitement is building, and we can’t wait to watch this beautiful wedding take place. Love is truly in the air, and love has found a way for these two precious people. Congratulations as you go forward in marriage, James and Manuela. We love you both very much, and wish for you two, the greatest blessings that God has to give.

Moving away from family is both exciting and hard. Sometimes the people you thought would never move are the ones that end up moving, and with that move comes a bit of a shock for the family left behind. That is the situation, my sister, Allyn Hadlock and her husband, Chris, and their family, find themselves in today. After knowing it was coming for several months, their daughter, Jessi Sawdon; her husband Jason; daughter, Adelaide; and their dog, Daisy; are moving from Casper, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming today. It isn’t a great distance, just a little over two hours away, but our hearts still feel like that is so far away. the good news is that Jessi and Jason will now be just 52 minutes from doorstep to doorstep from her sister, Lindsay Moore, her husband, Shannon, and daughter, Mackenzie. It has been many years since anyone lived that close to Lindsay and Shannon.

Jessi and Jason would not be moving, but Jason has been promoted to a Sergeant’s position within the Wyoming Highway Patrol!! This is a wonderful event in their lives. Not only is Jason being promoted, but with his new rank, comes a new position. It also bring a change to no more shift work. Jason will work days, and have nights, weekends, and holidays off. What a wonderful change for them. Jessi works from home, so this will be an amazing change for their family, and while we will miss them, we are very, very happy for them.

This has been just as bittersweet for Jessi and Jason as it has for the rest of the family. They loved living in Casper and they love their house here. God has been dealing with their hearts, to encourage them to explore Cheyenne and the surrounding area. Jessi said, “I believe we will find many exciting places to explore there.” One of the big things is Cheyenne Frontier Days, which several of our family members love to attend. Now they will also be able to spend time with Jessi, Jason, and Adelaide too. When Jessi mentioned that they plan to explore the area, I decided to see what there is to explore there. I was rather surprised at just how much there is. When I have got through Cheyenne, it is usually the pit stop between Casper and Denver. Among the things I found in Cheyenne, I found the Wyoming State Museum and the Cheyenne Depot Museum, the Terry Bison Ranch (they also raise camels), the Curt Gowdy State Park (which has a number of hiking trails, lakes, and even play areas for Adelaide), Big Boy Steam Engine (Old Number 4004, which has been retired), Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, the famous Cheyenne Big Boots (giant Cowboy boots), the Historic Governors’ Mansion (which you can tour), Happy Jack Drive (a scenic drive), the Wyoming National Guard Museum, and many more exciting places. I am excited for the Sawdon family, because it looks like there is something for each of them.

It is Jessi and Jason’s intentions to come back to Casper at some point. They are keeping their house in Casper, so that one day, they can return. They really love that house too, and it is where they want to be. They love their neighbors and the house, and are not ready to sell…yet. I suppose that could change if they find that they love Cheyenne more, and it could happen. There would be nothing wrong with that, except that the family would love to have them back home. I am glad they didn’t move far away, and I know we will see tham as often as they can make it. Plus, when we go to Denver now, we can stop for lundh with them, so that will be cool too. Jessi, Jason, Adelaide, and Daisy, we love you all, we will miss you, but we wish you the very best in this wonderful new adventure.

How does love grow? Sometimes people start out not liking each other, and later, things change. Other people like my Aunt Dixie Richards and the love of her life, my Uncle Jim Richards, it was pretty much love at first sight. Uncle Jim lost his dad at the young age of seven years, and when his family moved from Bassett, Nebraska to Casper, Wyoming, following the job search, Jim found himself befriending the Byer family. Because Jim had lost his dad, my grandpa George Byer became a father figure to Uncle Jim, who had never really had a dad in his life.

When Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim fell in love, it was settled in their minds. The were married on June 3, 1961 and they never looked back. Over the years they helped many family members when they needed a hand or a place to stay. No one was ever turned away. Uncle Jim’s mother lived with them until she passed away. They always had extra mouths to feed, but God always made sure there was enough food to go around. He does that for those with a generous heart…and they definitely had generous hearts. I think that when two people are of like mind, and agree to be generous, helpful caregivers, they will be blessed. During the time when they were taking care of Uncle Jim’s family, they were also taking care of her parents whenever that was needed too. In reality they were lifelong caregivers, and that is a hard job that brings great blessings.

All during the years that they were helping so many people, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim were also raising their own family. They have three children Jeannie Liegman, James Richards (who passed away on February 16, 2021), and Raylynn Williams. They also have 6 grandchildren, Jacob Liegman, Gabriel Williams, Gideon Williams, Noah Williams, Jonah Williams (who passed away at birth), and their lone granddaughter, Mayme Williams. Their life has been greatly blessed, especially in that their children all live very close to them and they see them every day. Their children have always been there for them and to help with any other family members that needed their help too. Their children learned their loving and caring ways from their parents.

Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim have lived quite a life, but there has never been a day that they thought it was all a mistake. They loved each other then and they love each other now. They saw each other all those years ago, and they never had eyes for anyone else. Sixty years is a long time to be married to someone. Many marriages don’t make it that long and those that stay together, often don’t live long enough to be married sixty years. It is a rarity. Today is my Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim’s 60th anniversary. Happy anniversary Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, the “best laid plans” turn into the biggest unplanned event. Bob and I take a trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming each year to celebrate our anniversary. Thermopolis is a dinky little town with very little to do, except that it has amazing hot springs she that adds up to great mineral water soaks that are terrific for the body. We also take wonderful walks along the trail that is set up on the Bighorn River, which flows through town. It is a peaceful tradition that we love to continue. Nevertheless, sometimes life can throw you a curve ball.

Bob and I have both been snowed in during our lifetimes, but this storm was still something new to us, because we are not snowed in. We are snowed out!!! Thermopolis got no snow at all, only a sprinkling of rain, but in Casper, which is home, it is a very different story. I have see n measurements of 18″ to 24″, and I’m sure it could be more by now. The roads in and out of Casper are closed, and since we are in Thermopolis, where there is no snow, we are not snowed in, but we are snowed out of Casper. It is a matter of the fact that you can’t get there from here…at least not today.

I can’t say that I am exactly heartbroken about having to stay at least an extra day in Thermopolis. In fact, I’m hoping that a lot of the snow will melt before we get home. That would simply not hurt my feelings one bit. I have been talking to my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock; and my daughter, Corrie Petersen and grandson, Chris Petersen in Casper; and one sister, Caryl Reed in Rawlins, and they have graciously provided me with what I cannot see here. Tons and tons of snow!! The pictures of all the work trying to dig out, and the futility of such a venture in most cases, are shocking. It’s hard for me to fathom the amount of snow from here, but I can say that it is massive. Even my niece, Lindsay Moore in Laramie, and my nieces, Liz Masterson, and Jenny Spethman in Casper, have added to the amount of pictures that have told the story of this huge snow day. It is truly a kid’s dream, and for those who couldn’t go to work today and won’t be tomorrow, it isn’t the most horrible news either.

My husband’s Uncle Eddie Hein was a man of integrity. He worked hard in everything he did. When he decided to take on a job, schooling, family and family projects, or anything he did for other people…he did it with integrity. People always knew they could count on Eddie to be there to help them out of any jam, or just when they need a little bit of assistance. Eddie built the additions to the family home, that gave it enough room for all of them.

Eddie lived most of his life in Forsyth, Montana, with the exception of the years he spent in Casper, Wyoming working at Rocky Mountain Pack and going to night classes at Casper College to get his degree in mechanics; and the years when he was in the US Army, where he served his country during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1966. That was when he met his future wife, Pearl Krueger. They got married on July 15, 1967…the happiest day of their lives. Their marriage was blessed with two children, Larry Hein and Kim Arani. They also had three grandchildren, one of whom, Destiny Hein, was born on Eddie’s birthday, giving them a very special bond. They were best friends.

Eddie worked at the Forsyth Standard Station until he was hired at Peabody Coal on May 4th, 1970. He worked for Peabody Coal until 2005, then he went to work for Western Energy Coal Company, retiring in 2010. Eddie was a respected worker at all of his jobs, and I’m sure they were sorry to see him move on to other jobs. Uncle Eddie had a presence that made people feel good. He had a smile that made you smile too. Uncle Eddie was always a working man, and I know it was very hard when he had the stroke that really slowed him down. It was hard on him, Aunt Pearl, their kids, and grandkids. They worried about him and wondered if he was going to come out of this, but he did come out of it. He did walk again, and he was able to walk Kim down the “isle” on the beach, when she and her husband, Mike Arani were married. I suppose that it was his strength to come back from the stroke that made his heart attack, and subsequent passing on October 16, 2019, so hard to believe. I still can’t believe he is gone. Today would have been Uncle Eddie’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Eddie. We love and miss you very much.

Rain…most often a welcome sight, especially during the hot summer months, and sometimes early fall months too. The Casper, Wyoming area is not one to get a lot of rain, however. Nevertheless, the rain had been coming down heavily for a week, that late September of 1923. In fact there had been three straight days of downpour. The railroad personnel were keeping a close eye on the rivers, creeks, and bridges. They were concerned, but did not expect the volatile, and possibly catastrophic situation that could be heading their way. Cole Creek was reported to have less than 16 inches of rainwater in its bed and by 8pm on September 27th, and the bridge was believed secure. Hours later, the water level would reportedly rise two feet in half an hour.

On September 27, 1923, The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Number 30 passenger train left Casper for Denver at approximately 8:30pm with approximately 60-70 passengers on board. the exact number is unknown. The train reached Cole Creek by 9:15pm and approached the Cole Creek bridge shortly after. Unexpectedly, Number 30 attempted to slow, and eventually braked upon realizing the usually dry gully below was now a torrent of rushing water and vision was severely limited. It is unknown if the rushing water was unnerving or if they saw something of the impending disaster through the rain, but they did attempt to slow down. Unfortunately, the bridge’s trestle had already been washed out or badly weakened. The realization of the situation came too late for the crew of CBQ number 30.

The 100-ton locomotive engine and first five, of seven train cars plummeted into the sand and water below. Most of the passengers were in two of these cars. Ans the cars hit, metal crunched, windows and doors burst under flood of water, steam from the engine scalded passengers and worse, and it would take more than an hour for help to arrive, especially when the first call to the Casper dispatcher’s office didn’t come for 45 minutes. From that point, the city sprang into action. Emergency news alerts calling for doctors and volunteers flashed across movie screens in town. The residents first thought it was a refinery disaster…which was much more expected here than a train wreck. Instead, however, they were faced with the greatest train wreck in Wyoming’s history, as it would come to be known.

Try as they might, rescue crews could do very little until the following morning. At first, bodies were found washed down the North Platte River for hundreds of yards, but they would eventually reach miles down the river. The massive recovery efforts would continue for weeks. The cleanup ended October 15, still daily reports were provided by local newspapers and radio. There were still people missing, but winter was upon them, and anyone who lives near the Platte River, or it’s tributaries, knows that once the ice sets in, bodies remain hidden beneath the surface.

The body of the train’s conductor, Guy Goff, was found seven months later, in May 1924, washed down the North Platte. Engineer, Ed Spangler, was discovered in January of the following year. In all, the cost of the wreck totaled close to a million dollars and 31 deaths are reported, although the final number remains uncertain because of the discrepancy in passenger numbers. The day after the wreck, a nine-year-old boy was seen searching for days for his father at the wreck site. No confirmation was received that the man was ever found.

My dad…when I think of him, I always feel such a sense of pride in who he was. He had lived so great a life, seen so many things, gone places, and while many people might not think his life was so grand, I did. My dad, Allen Spencer, was born on April 27, 1924 in Superior, Wisconsin, to Allen and Anna (Schumacher) Spencer. He was the third of their four children, and one of two rather mischievous boys. The family owned a farm, and the children helped with the chores there. His dad worked for the Great Northern Railroad as a carpenter, building and repairing the seats on the train, and any other carpentry work needed. That fact gave the children Laura, William (Bill), Allen (my dad), and Ruth, the unique privilege of having a pass to ride the train for free, as a dependent of their dad, making their trips to school easier, though not without adventure. As I said, the boys were mischievous, and boarding the train in the normal, everyday way was just too boring. They boys hopped on the moving train, every chance they got, always hoping not to be caught and scolded. They were told repeatedly not to hop on the train, because it was unsafe, but they were boys, and they liked the danger.

Growing up, the train adventures weren’t the only ones the boys had, and probably not the most dangerous either. When dad was about 15 and his brother, Uncle Bill about 17, the boys decided to take the summer and go look for work. They didn’t make reservations at hotels, or have previously lined up jobs, but rather hit the road and did odd jobs in the towns they came across. One time there was no room in the local hotel, so the local sheriff allowed them to sleep in the jail…the first and last time either of them was in jail, as far as I know. If I know my dad and my uncle, they thought it was a great adventure…even though their mother would have been appalled. Or maybe she would have been grateful to the sheriff for keeping her boys off the street.

When Dad was 17, he left home to go work at Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, California, building airplanes. I often wonder if it was his work there that made him a prime candidate for the position he held in World War II, as a top turret gunner and flight engineer on a B-17 based at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England. I don’t know his thoughts on being in one of the countries where his ancestors had hailed from, but to my genealogist’s eyes, it would have been the best gift ever given…had it not been for the war, of course. To find himself in the “old stomping grounds” of many of his ancestors…well, it would have been beyond awesome. Dad, decided that he didn’t need much, and so he sent most of his pay home to be put in saving, telling his mom, that if she needed it, she was to use it, because he could always get a job when he got home. In war, times are tough, and Dad wanted to make sure that his family, back home in Superior was well and had enough money to get by. During his R and R time, Dad spent time in Miami, Florida and Galveston, Texas, and of course his training for service had taken place on several air bases across the United States. Dad had always loved to travel, so I’m sure his wanderer’s heart took great pleasure in the many locations he found himself in.

It was, in fact, his wanderer’s heart that brought him across the path of my Aunt Virginia and her husband at the time. She later introduced him to her sister and his future wife, my mom, Collene Byer. Mom was totally smitten by Dad, immediately thinking that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Before long, she loved him immensely, but she was a school girl, and had to wait a while to actually marry him. As was more common in those days, my dad was twelve years older than my mom, but theirs was a love that would last until his passing in 2007. Even after his passing, Mom had no desire to see anyone else. She just couldn’t imagine it. He was the only love of her life.

Dad never lost the love of travel, though his married life settled him first for several years in Superior, Wisconsin, and the for the rest of his life in Casper, Wyoming. He wanted to show his family the places he loved, most importantly the United States. He often told us that this was a beautiful country, and not only should we try to see it, we should drive, because you could see much more from the ground than from a plane. Of course, for most of us time constraints don’t allow for cross country drives, but after the flight to get there, we try to see the area surrounding our destination. Dad, I’m certain, would have viewed that type of travel with a measure of skepticism. Still, he loved to hear about our travels. He always seemed to have a far away look on his face, because he could picture the same place in his mind…you see, he had most likely been there before, and he was so happy that we had followed in his footsteps. Today would have been my dad’s 96th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. I know you and Mom are having a wonderful time. We love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again.

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