Birds Eye Pass Stagestop & Halfway House
Birds Eye Pass was a stage stop as well as a halfway house for travelers
Located on the western part of the Copper Mountains, north of Shoshoni, south of Thermopolis, and east of the Wind River Canyon, Birds Eye Pass was a stage route over the Owl Creek mountains and became a vital link between Shoshoni and Thermopolis from about 1897 till 1913 when the railroad made its way through the canyon and began regular passenger service. The pass received its name from the Native American’s interpretation of a brand used by Charlie Fogg, a rancher in the Copper Mountains, which looked like a bird’s eye. It is said that Bill Hagen built the first boarding house at the summit of Birds Eye Pass. Hagen also took care of the stage teams, their horses, and also did the cooking for the guests. Meals were served not only to passengers but to others such as prospectors who were scattered in the surrounding area, sheep herders, sheep men, and cowboys. Birds Eye Pass was a place to socialize with a few drinks, get a good meal, and pick up mail for those living in the isolated Pass.
The stage travel for this route started in Lander and would make its way into Fort Washakie to pick up additional passengers then stay overnight in Shoshoni. The stage drive over Birds Eye Pass started at 6:00 AM in Shoshoni and would end up at the Birds Eye Station by the noon hour and travelers would take a much appreciated lunch at the Halfway House Hotel. The hotel chose its name from being the halfway point between Lander and Thermopolis. From there, another stage coach would carry the travelers down into Thermopolis. Traveler’s luggage normally was transported separately from the main stage coach. Anyone wishing to travel to and over Birds Eye Pass into Thermopolis had only a three month span to travel as the Pass would quickly become impassable from the snow storms.
In 1913 the railroad had laid tracks through the Wind River Canyon, and with trains providing passenger service the Birds Eye Station was abandoned. The original buildings used to sit on a rock foundation before the structure was burned down many years ago. The only thing that may remain now is the foundation and the old charred cook stove. The Birds Eye road was still in use over the Pass by brave travelers in automobiles but after the road through the canyon was completed in the 1920s the road through Birds Eye Pass fell into disuse as well. Today, Birds Eye Pass road is accessible to residents but the land surrounding the road is privately owned by land owners that consist mainly of ranchers. While local residents along the road access the route on a daily basis Birds Eye Pass road is not regularly maintained and there are still hazards to traveling on this particular road with the washouts from spring and summer rain storms.
Re-discover the Winds by visiting the Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum. Log onto www.fremontcountymuseums.com for a complete schedule of events, latest newsletter and the latest Wind River Mountaineer.
Next up for the Fremont County Museums
Aug 5th 9:30am, at the Dubois Museum, “Shippen Cabin Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
Aug 11th 8am, at the Dubois Museum, “Dunoir Tie Hack Camp” with Sig Schultz Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
Aug 17th, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Eclipse 101: A Primer on What How and Why…” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
Aug 17th, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “1918: The Last Total Eclipse Over Wyoming” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
Aug 18th 3pm at the Riverton Museum, “Eclipses in History” by Mel Tucker from the Jackson Astronomy Club, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum need your financial support. In the current economic environment the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last three and half years. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.