Meeteetse Area History
A colorful Western past.
Meeteetse – Town of Western Legends
Meeteetse is an old western town located just 32 miles south of Cody on Highway 120 along the banks of the Greybull River. Founded in the 1890’s, the word Meeteetse is an old Shoshone Indian word for “meeting place.” The town retains much of its original character with wooden boardwalks, wooden watering troughs, hitching rails and many old buildings from the turn of the century.
The Meeteetse area is rich in history with the expansive Pitchfork Ranch, famous as one the west’s true cattle empires. It was the first cattle ranching operation of the Big Horn Basin, established in 1879 by Otto Franc. By 1900, thousands of cattle grazed along the Greybull River and Wood River Valleys. Although first discovered on the John Hogg Ranch, the Pitchfork is also well known for the fact the last known colony of an endangered species thought to be extinct, the Black Footed Ferret, was found on its grasslands.Noted outlaw Butch Cassidy lived in Meeteetse. In 1886, he signed a petition for the new bridge, and in 1894, he was arrested in front of the Cowboy Bar. Meeteetse is a town of Legends.
Forget Buffalo Bill, Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid, and countless men and women of notoriety who helped define the mythology of the American West. Meeteetse had its own brand of mythmaker: Poker Nell, Bronco Nell, Laughing Smith, Swede Pete, Airplane Jerry, Greasy Bill, Checkbook Charlie, and Shorty the Crock to name a few. These were the characters of local lore, not the everyday hardworking people who believed in, and helped shape Meeteetse. As some dreams manifested and others were forgotten, the early settlers played out the hopes and promises of the West on the high plains of Meeteetse.
By 1906, the town had seven saloons, one store, two banks, and two hotels. There were several other bars scattered over the area. At the forks of the Greybull and Wood Rivers was a popular bar called the “Bucket of Blood.” The town had a reputation as a “wild and woolly” town until fairly recently. For the first time churches now outnumber saloons.
In 1912, Josh Deane who homesteaded on the Wood river and had a Post Office there, started the Labor Day Celebration.
In the early 1930’s, Carl Dunrud purchased the Kirwin area and the lands around it. Six and a half miles below Kirwin he built the Double D Dude Ranch. Among his first guests were Amelia Earhart and her husband, George Putnam. Later, Earhart asked Dunrud to build a cabin for her, where she planned to come after her flight around the world. In 1937, when she disappeared on her flight around the world, the cabin was four logs high and construction stopped. The cabin was never finished. It can be seen by hiking about one mile past Kirwin.
The Forest Service bought the land surrounding Kirwin and the Double D Dude Ranch from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The Forest Service has coordinated with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office on a stabilization project at Kirwin. Volunteers are encouraged to help stabilize the buildings at Kirwin during the first week of August. Contact Meeteetse Museums at 307-868-2423 or the Forest Service at 1-800-517-0413 for details.
The town has several motels, bed & breakfast and mountain lodges offering accomodations in which to stay and a remarkable variety of dining establishments. All are heavy on local character and feature cowboy and western style decor.