Archives On The Air

Archives on the Air takes listeners deep into the archives of the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center. The AHC collects and preserves primary sources and rare books from Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain Region, and select aspects of the American and global past. Voiced by the AHC's Birgit Burke (previously by Molly Marcuse), each new episode of Archives on the Air reveals a fascinating tidbit from the AHC's vast collection.

The Manitou and Pike's Peak railway in Colorado has the highest elevation of any railway in North America. And the 5th highest in the world. The tracks go over 14,000 feet.

The track was opened in 1889 by Zalmon G. Simmons, Inventor of Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. The track took tourists to the top of the peak and back. 

When actor John Wayne died in 1979, his wife Pat Stacey and Journalist Beverly Linet wrote a biography of him, called Duke, A Love Story. In an interview, Linet remembered the first time she met Wayne. 

Did you know the state of Wyoming isn't the only place in the US named Wyoming? In fact, over 20 locations around the country are called Wyoming. 

Ma Perkins was radio's first and longest running soap opera. It aired from 1933 to 1960. The show followed an elderly woman who owned a lumber yard. 

Ma Perkins was voiced by Virginia Payne. She started playing the elderly Ma Perkins when she was 23 years old. 

Henry Lee Grier was a Laramie man who served on the front lines of World War I. He wrote detailed memoirs of his war experiences. Here is one memory: 

Ellen Watson became known as "Cattle Kate." But she never actually went by Kate. The press said she ran a brothel and accepted stolen cattle as payment. This does not seem to be true.

Hal Baylor was born in 1918. He became a heavyweight boxing champ early in life.

Baylor was cast as a boxer in the 1949 Hollywood film The Set-Up.

Famed writer Jack London was born to a poor family in 1876. He grew up in San Francisco. In his youth London poached coastal oysters. He sold them to restaurants.

Alfred Lawson was a professional baseball player but he made his name by proposing America's first airline. In the great depression he left aviation for a different passion.

Lawson founded the Direct Credits Society.

Mademoiselle was "the magazine for smart young women." It was founded in 1935 and was written for college-educated women.

Editor Betsy Talbot Blackwell "pioneered in advancing the cause of American fashions through Mademoiselle at a time when Paris was the world fashion center…"

Edith Clements received her PhD in Botany from University of Nebraska in 1904. Her husband Frederic was also a botanist. The Clements spent many years traveling the US together doing research and teaching.

Edith was an illustrator. She drew plants for her own books and other publications.

University of Wyoming had strict rules in the women's dorms. Records from an early Dean of Women named Luella Galliver give us a glimpse.

In 1925 8-year-old Robert Bloch saw "The Phantom of the Opera". He was terrified when Lon Chaney removed his mask. That terror also sparked Bloch's interest in horror and sci-fi.

By the 1930s Bloch began writing to sci-fi author H.P. Lovecraft.

Lucille Ball is best known for her role in the TV show "I Love Lucy". The show is the height of 1950s nostalgia.

In a 1976 interview with Journalist Beverly Linet, Ball dismissed nostalgia:

Lucile Ball: nostalgia is something you still yearn for and want to happen again is that what you mean?

Beverly Linet: Yeah and also that you say 'oh do you remember that marvelous time when I was 24 and we did that or that happened'

Minnie and Merris Barrow were early Wyoming settlers.

The Barrows moved to Laramie in 1877. Merris worked for the Laramie Boomerang Newspaper until 1886. Then the Barrows launched their own paper, Bill Barlow's Budget. Merris was editor and Minnie was bookkeeper.

Writer Ernest Tidyman said he was a newspaper reporter by age 14 and an alcoholic by age 15. He later adapted his own book into the 1971 film Shaft.

Dorothy Strain Kaufman grew up near Laramie, WY on her family's ranch. She wrote a memoir that recounts her life and hijinks as a young girl on the prairie in the 1930s.

The kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr. was the crime of the century. It was one of the first high profile cases to receive obsessive media attention.

Archives On The Air 110: Training Seeing Eye Dogs—Lambert Kreimer Papers

Feb 8, 2019

Lambert Kreimer was a German Captain in World War I. He trained Red Cross and messenger dogs.

Archives On The Air 109: Cyborgs On TV—Martin Caidin Papers

Feb 8, 2019

Martin Caidin was a sci-fi author and an aviation expert. He is best known for his 1972 novel Cyborg. It was the basis for the TV shows "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman."

In 1978 an undercover cop was killed by the sheriff in Rock Springs.

The oil boom of the 70s brought seedy characters to Rock Springs.

In 1968, John Turner of Cheyenne wanted to expand his restaurant Taco House. He partnered with James Woodson and Harold Holmes to outfit a camper into a mobile restaurant that could feed visitors at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Most wedding invitations are sent by mail. But when Marvel Comics' star couple Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got married in 1987, the invitations were sent via comic book.

Nowadays, we expect every airplane seat pocket to come with an in-flight magazine. But before 1934 airplane seat pockets were empty. Rose Benas is responsible for bringing the first in-flight magazines to the world.

Archives On The Air 104: Mountaineering The Wind River Range—Carl Blaurock Paper

Jan 31, 2019

In 1924, there were still mountain peaks in Wyoming that had not been climbed. Carl Blaurock from Denver took a party to climb the Wind River Range that same year.

Archives On The Air 103: Smokye Mouse—Craig Chandler Papers

Jan 30, 2019

Craig Chandler worked for the U.S. Forest Service in the 1970s. He was Director of Forest Fire & Atmospheric Research. He was known for his sense of humor around the office.

Archives On The Air 102: A Woman And Her Camera—Lora Webb Nichols Papers

Jan 30, 2019

Lora Webb Nichols loved her camera.

Lora was born in 1883. She grew up on a ranch outside Encampment, Wyoming. By the late 1890s, the area was in a copper boom.

Archives On The Air 101: A Pair Of Characters—Chic And Virginia Sale Papers

Jan 28, 2019

Chic and Virginia Sale were siblings. They were also both character actors in vaudeville and movies.

Archives On The Air 100: Dinosaur Hunters Of The Wild West—William Harlow Reed Papers

Jan 25, 2019

William Harlow Reed worked for the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming in the late 1800s.

Archives On The Air 99: How To Become A Werewolf—Forrest Ackerman Papers

Jan 24, 2019

Forrest Ackerman is the man who created the science fiction fan community. In 1953 he co-created the magazine "Famous Monsters of Filmland". It is still published today.