#Lookback: Howard Stanley Crispin: Stone Mason, Sculptor, Electric Plant Manager

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.

Howard Crispin was one of the early settlers in Lander who literally built Lander stone by stone.  He apprenticed as a stonemason as a young man before moving to Lander in 1882 at age 20.

Crispin built many of the stone buildings in town. He had a hand building the old Catholic Church on Third Street and Garfield from 1882 to 1883. He built Baldwin’s store and warehouse at Third and Main street out of native stone in 1883 and 1884. The Catholic College and The Crux coffee shop occupy those buildings today. The Crux building now has a brick façade, but it was originally stone. Crispin built the stone schoolhouse at 6th and Garfield in 1885. Today, the Pioneer Museum uses the old schoolhouse as a warehouse for objects not on display.  He built Amoretti’s Bank about 1886. Belles and Beaus occupy the old Amoretti Bank, but the stone doorway still stands.  He also built many stone foundations for many of the homes in early Lander and the foundation for the Flour Mill on Main Street.

Crispin also kept a lime kiln located along the Popo Agie river downstream from Lander close to Wypo. Lime was needed to make mortar for laying stone and bricks.

The Flour Mill was completed in 1888 and was originally powered by a waterwheel, but it soon became apparent another power source was needed when the river froze in winter. Crispin converted the Mill’s power from a water wheel to a steam engine originally powered by coal from the Hudson coal mines and later converted to oil from Mike Murphy’s oil wells at Dallas Dome. Mike Murphy was the first man to strike oil in Wyoming.

With a reliable power source, the flour mill started generating electricity and illuminating Main Street Lander with electric lights. Crispin got a job running the generators at night. He worked a 12-hour shift from dusk to dawn. Part of his job on his way to work was to turn on the street lights along Main Street and turn them off in the morning when his shift was finished.

There is evidence Crispin dabbled in gold mining at Lewiston and spent some time in the Wyoming Militia with an overseas stint in the Philippines.

When he returned from the Philippines about 1898, he married Lennie Kirk, the daughter of the stage station manager at Lost Soldier. He returned to work generating electricity at the Flour Mill and making stone monuments for the cemetery. He quarried blue-grey granite from the Big Popo Agie Canyon, now known as Sinks Canyon. He also quarried marble from the Little Popo Agie canyon.

In 1916 he took a job working for Asmus Boysen on his hydroelectric plant in Wind River Canyon. This first dam project proved unsuccessful because the dam kept silting up.

By 1925 Crispin was back in Lander establishing his business, Lander Monument Works along the west bank of the Popo Agie in Lander south of Main Street.

Many of the cemetery markers in Mount Hope were carved by Crispin’s hand. The headstones for Sacagawea, Bazil and Baptist Charbonneau in Sacagawea Cemetery were also carved by Crispin.

Crispin died on November 11, 1937. His obituary said, “No one ever knew him to have a part in a shady transaction; his work was always four square and plumb.”

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

February 8th at the Riverton Museum at 2 pm, “Exploring Historic Computers”

Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

February 14th at the Riverton Museum 5:30-9:30 pm, “Murder Mystery Night at the Museum: Roaring 20’s”

March 12th at the Pioneer Museum 7 pm, “Lander in 1920”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

March 12th at the Riverton Museum 6:30 pm, “History of Radio & Broadcasting In Fremont County” by Ernie Over

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. 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. 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.