#lookback: Embedded Horns

Maker:S,Date:2017-11-26,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

When you work with history, sometimes it is hard to accept that things can and will remain mysteries. Until someone invents a working time machine, even history and museum experts will rely on a combination of oral records, written word, and historic artifacts to provide their best guess as to what happened in times gone by.

Some of the strangest mysteries currently housed under the Dubois Museum’s roof take the forms of two rather large artifacts: bighorn sheep skulls grown into tree trunks. Though they might look whimsical, both artifacts weigh over 50 pounds!

Hunters near the top of Mount Kent, about 30 miles north of Dubois and in the Horse Creek Basin District, found one bighorn sheep skull grown into a tree back in 1926. In 1932, a Dubois local named John R. Boardman discovered another sheep skull, the one pictured here. Boardman, who homesteaded on Torrey Lake, found this skull ten feet off the ground in a tree, on the southeast side of Whiskey Mountain, and at an elevation of around 9,000 feet.

Experts heatedly disagree on why these rams’ skulls ended up where they did. Some believe the bighorn sheep skulls were hung on branches hundreds of years ago as part of Mountain Shoshone hunting rituals. Others say that the process of making sheep horn bows—the Mountain Shoshone’s primary weapon—required people to let the skull dry out before they could remove the horns easily. Hanging the ram skull in a tree would help that to happen, but, since life is full of surprises, it is likely something happened to stop whoever hung this skull from coming back for it.

Fewer than 10 known example of sheep skulls grown into trees exist, and the Dubois Museum is fortunate enough to have two of them under their roof. While we cannot be sure why or how they ended up in the trees, it is no mystery why these skulls belong in a museum.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

July 28th, 11-2pm at the Dubois Museum, “Frontier Fest”

July 28th, 10am at the Riverton Museum, “Castle Garden Adventure Trek”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

August 2nd, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Barbara Love: Life on Muskrat Creek”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

August 2nd, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Dubois & WWII”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. 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.