May 17, 2015
We had a great day of discoveries in our search for barracks. Despite the cloudy weather, I observed the Big Dipper and Polaris this morning! Pulling up to Laverne Solberg’s house I looked up at the front of his garage and saw stars. Long ago while renovating the barracks that would become the garage, he had placed stars in the pattern of the Big Dipper, with the two stars in the ladle pointed correctly at Polaris. At first I thought the other stars were the Little Dipper, but they don’t form that asterism. I’ll have to find out what they represent.
Sharon wanted to video tape Laverne to include his thoughts in a documentary she is making about the homesteaders and the barracks. I made an attempt with my Sony a7S camera which produces a pretty high quality video. After that we used an invaluable list of barracks in the area made by Mac Blewer which had addresses, GPS coordinates and photos of what to expect.
One unusual use we saw was an apartment in Powell. Three units were made from a whole 120 foot barrack, situated on a quiet residential street in the town.
Our next destination was a farm north of the main highway between Powell and Cody. A few days ago we had seen a short barrack building in mostly original condition on the property that had two sheep in it. Today we met Lee and Jamie Bressler, the young couple who now own the property. Their daughter is raising lambs for her 4-H project. The lambs are adorable, they will walk up to you and sniff around like dogs do. One started to chew on my vest. The Bresslers were interested in the history of the barrack and Jaimie had learned about the Heart Mountain camp and the homesteading in history courses at nearby Northwest College. Part of their barrack was decaying so they had to tear it down a few years ago. But the lambs now occupy the remaining half. It was fascinating to photograph the details of the wood, the windows, even some tar paper still nailed to the exterior. Poking around in the dirt, Lee found some square nails used in the original construction and gave them to us. We were happy this turned out to be a productive day.