Friday, August 25, 2017

Scene Along the Side of the Road: Little America

For miles before you reach this oasis near the southwest corner of Wyoming you will see signs for $.75 ice cream cones (not long ago they were only $ .50!) on billboards advertising "Little America". This area of Wyoming is a high desert. It is beautiful in its stark rugged way, but it is empty.  One can drive miles without seeing a sign of civilization. The ice cream is sold at Little America, truly an oasis in the desert. As you approach you can see the bright green of trees in sharp contrast to the dusky prairie. This screen shot tells it all. A lot of nothing surrounding vibrant green. 

As often happens when we are driving, we begin speculating on the why's or wherefores of what we see.  How fortunate in this day to have the Internet at our fingertips to get instant answers to our questions. (But maybe in days gone by, when things moved at a slower pace, our lives might have been richer if we took the time to stop and ask questions to our queries.) As we drove past the oasis I checked it out on the satellite view of Google maps. The spot of green has a huge hotel complex with multiple buildings, a large gas station and truck stop and what looks like a service area for vehicles. Behind the facility is a cluster of twenty or so homes. (The population in 2010 was recorded as 68.) With Little America being 40 miles from Rock Springs, to the east, and 30 miles from Lyman to the west, housing for employees would be a necessity. 

Picture from the Internet

Toward the end of the 19th century Stephen Covey was herding sheep on the high prairie in Wyoming, somewhere in the 1600 square miles of land his family owned in this desolate area. He was caught in a blizzard and forced to "lay out" in the exact area where Little America now stands. While hunkering down in miserable conditions Covey imagined how wonderful it would be to have a cabin with a fire, warm blankets and food. He vowed that he would build something like that some day. He opened his oasis for travelers in 1934, with a small hotel, a cafe, a bar and a gas station, and it has grown from there. 

Picture from the Internet

Oh, and the name? Covey saw pictures of Admiral Byrd's "Little America" in the Antarctic and felt the isolation on the Wyoming prairie was not that much different than the isolation Byrd experience in a land of snow and ice. After miles of seeing nothing but sand and rock, I think I just might agree with him!


  1. You could dine, dance and see the penguins:) Safe travels!

  2. In 1969 I was in a Greyhound bus driving through that prairie.

    1. I remember your posts about your bus trip. Wow!


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