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April 25, 2007 Wyoming Nuggets

Jackalopes: A Wyoming Trademark
Yellowstone Trivia
On This Day . . . April 13, 1902
The Red Desert & The Great Divide Basin
Western Gift Corral - Moose Wall Hook
The Ultimate Wyoming Travel Atlas & Encyclopedia

Jackalopes: A Wyoming Trademark • By Kristin Hill

First-time Wyoming visitors, beware. If you’ve never heard the tale of the jackalope, you may become so wrapped up in the legend of this mysterious creature you won’t be able to decipher fact from fiction. After all, Wyoming natives can’t even agree on whether or not this unusual specimen is the creation of a lonely cowboy’s imagination or a real animal worthy of its own special hunting season.

So what exactly is a jackalope? It’s nothing less than a perfect cross between a jackrabbit and antelope.  With soft brown fur, pointy antlers, and bounding movements up to 90 miles per hour, this nocturnal mammal can also carry quite a tune and is said to only mate during violent thunderstorms. 

Reputedly, trapper Roy Ball was the first to observe the jackalope during his 1829 wanderings, and it wasn’t long before frontier cowboys began reporting the strange creatures singing harmony with them around the campfire. Within no time, jackalopes were being spotted everywhere on the Wyoming plains, and taxidermist Douglas Herrick knew what he had to do. He needed to capture one of these creatures and preserve it for all prosperity!  And capture (or perhaps create?) one of these creatures is exactly what he did in 1941.  With antlers suspiciously resembling those of a mule deer, Herrick’s jackalope was given a special place of honor in Douglas, Wyoming’s famous LaBonte Hotel, and the jackalope became a registered Wyoming trademark in 1965.

Soon, the town of Douglas was hopping with jackalopes, and reported sightings of the mammal began popping up all across the western U.S.  In 1985, Wyoming’s governor dubbed Douglas “Home of the Jackalope,” and Jackalope Days remains a favorite summer festival in this small town to this very day. Wyoming residents and tourists are even offered the opportunity to hunt these elusive creatures on June 31 each year, but only between the hours of midnight and 2 A.M. If you’re lucky enough to track one down, you’ll be a celebrated hero, but don’t feel too bad if you come home empty-handed. Most of today’s jackalope sightings are relegated to the eight-foot-tall jackalope statue standing proudly in the center of Douglas’ Jackalope Square.

So, is the jackalope real or merely the creation of cowboys (who may have had too much to drink) and an enterprising businessman? Don’t be surprised if no one gives you a straight answer.  After all, animal researchers have even joined the debate, with some claiming that horned cottontails may exist if they have been exposed to the papillomatosis parasite – which, by the way, creates horn-shaped growths on the top of rabbits’ heads.


Yellowstone Trivia

 1. When Yellowstone was made a national park in 1872, what was the park’s annual operating budget allotted by Congress?
No money was provided. There were so many opponents to the idea of the park that this was the only way to silence them.

2. Yellowstone Park has had several forest fires in its recent history. How many years following a fire will a forest hit its peak level of diversity, hosting the greatest number of plant and animal species?
25 years. When a mature forest burns, there will be a 30-fold increase in the number of plant species over the next 20 years; bird species will increase up to five times. By the time lodgepole pines get large enough to shade the forest floor completely-40 to 50 years after a fire—the number of species begins to drop and it continues to drop until the forest burns again.

3. The Firehole River where it begins above Upper Geyser Basin is a cold mountain stream with a typical mid-July water temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time it reaches Firehole Falls below Lower Geyser Basin—a distance of about 12 miles, as the crow flies—what is the river’s water temperature?
110 degrees Fahrenheit. The river picks up heat as it passes through Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins. It’s been estimated that the heat that goes into the Firehole River could melt seven tons of ice per minute. The output of the twin features of Excelsior Geyser Crater and Prismatic Spring in the Midway Basin increases the temperature of the entire river by nearly 40 degrees.

4. The presence of wolves in the park increases the presence of aspen. How?
Wolves keep the elk moving from place to place instead of staying in a single location. This prevents elk form grazing too heavily in an area with new aspen shoots.

5. The four trillion gallons of water that pour out of Yellowstone each year would be enough to fill Lake Superior how many times?
Twelve times. Twelve major rivers originate in the Greater Yellowstone area, including four very large ones: the Snake River, the Missouri River, the Yellowstone River and the Green River.



On This Day . . . April 13, 1902

James Cash Penney opens his first store—a dry goods and clothing establishment called The Golden Rule—in Kemmerer, Wyoming. In 10 years, Penney had a chain of 34 stores. The store became “J.C. Penney” in 1919 and today more than one thousand J.C. Penney stores are operating. Penney is quoted as saying that there are no secrets for success, only that a person should have “a basic liking for human beings, plus integrity, plus industry, plus the ability to see the other fellow’s point of view."


The Red Desert & The Great Divide Basin

America’s Heritage: The Red Desert
Hidden away in southwestern Wyoming lies one of the most unique and spectacular landscapes in North America—The Red Desert. A wondrous and incredible place: the desert’s stunning rainbow-colored hoo-doos, towering buttes and prehistoric rock art define this rich landscape and provide a truly wild “home on the range” for the largest… Read More


Western Gift Corral

Big Sky Carvers Burle -Decorative Moose Wall Hook

Enhance any room's décor with this fun wall hook from Big Sky Carvers. Montana artist Phyllis Driscoll designed this fantastic piece. Surprise your favorite animal lover with this moose gift. 7" long, 4-1/4" wide, 11-1/2" tall. Original price: $35.00, Sale price: $26.25     Buy Now!

Looking to bring a symbol of Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains into your home? Searching for that perfect western gift or souvenir? Then don’t miss the huge selection of quality crafted items at the Gift Corral. Although the Gift Corral’s store headquarters are in Bozeman, Montana, the store prides itself on offering sensational products that reflect the spirit of the entire western US region. Best of all, the Gift Corral offers a full selection of its signature products online. Visitors will find handmade bath and body products, Moose Drool novelty items (check out the website for more information on these wildly popular products!), whimsicial bear and moose figurines, stuffed animals, wood carvings, western themed Christmas ornaments, clothing, antler art, handcrafted jewelry, gourmet foods and candies, household decorator items ranging from lamps to rustic furniture to picture frames, and much, much more! Don’t miss out! Treat yourself or someone special to a bit of western charm today! Shop Now


The Ultimate Wyoming Travel Atlas & Encyclopedia

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