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.

In 1879 the Central Colorado Company built a rail line between Cheyenne and Fort Collins. Cheyenne became Poudre Valley's trading hub. 

Today we think of shopping malls as the epitome of capitalism. But the man who invented malls was a socialist. Austrian architect and mall-inventor Victor Gruen believed malls were a way to re-centralize suburban sprawl and create public spaces. 

At the end of World War I the U.S. government had a surplus of small planes. They sold them for low prices. Many former fighter pilots bought the planes and became barnstormers.

Cartoon writer Michael Maltese began his career with the Max Fleischer Cartoon Studio, but he is best known for his work with Warner Brothers in the 1940s and 50s. Maltese designed iconic Looney Tunes characters like Pepe Le Pew, Wiley Coyote and Yosemite Sam. 

The Mission Impossible film series has dazzled audiences since 1996. But the franchise has a history before Tom Cruise.

When Japanese Americans were interned at Heart Mountain in 1942, adults tried to maintain a sense of normalcy for the children. Internees quickly organized girl scout and boy scout troops. 

In 1906, the Crow tribe adopted a man with a camera into their ranks. His name was Richard Throssel.

Throssel had a mixed background of Scottish, English, and Cree. His adoption gave him unique access to the Crow tribe. 

The 1960s Batman TV show was campy. Many fans of the Batman comic thought it was cheesy. Executive producer William Dozier received this letter in 1966: 

In 1981 Peggy Simson Curry was named Wyoming's first poet laureate by Governor Ed Herschler. Curry was an author and a passionate educator. She led a program called Poetry-in-the-Schools and taught her students that "writing is love." 

Mountaineer Luther Jerstad was part of the 1963 Mount Everest expedition. It was the first successful American Everest climb. Jerstad was passionate about mountain climbing and recalled crying when he reached the peak of Everest. 

Eric Taylor was a screenwriter in the 1930s and 40s. He wrote 1945's Dick Tracy movie and six Universal monster movies, including Son of Dracula.

Before Hollywood Taylor wrote pulp fiction detective stories. Once he had two stories published in the same magazine. One story was published under the pen name Mark Layton. 

Cheyenne still looks very much like it did in a pamphlet from 1910.

Cheyenne officially became a city in 1867. It had a reputation as an agricultural and railroad community. 

To help build the social-scape of the city, the Cheyenne Industrial Club published a pamphlet called "The Cheyenne of To-Day" in 1910. 

Wilma Soss liked to say she wasn't born like other people. She erupted in a San Francisco earthquake.

Soss fought for women's rights as stockholders. 

Tim McCoy dropped out of college to pursue adventure.

He moved to Lander, Wyoming in the early 1900s. McCoy became an expert roper and horseman. He also developed an interest in Native-American life - and learned to speak Arapahoe and Shoshone. 

Joanne Forman decided to become a composer at sixteen. She had an illustrious career ever since that moment.

Forman helped create a number of theater programs in the U.S. She became a specialist in puppetry in multicultural and bilingual education. 

H.C. Ingraham wrote western short stories. He also wrote "The Circus Review," a Circus industry newspaper. 

In 1871, cousins Philip Arnold and John Slack claimed to have found diamonds on the border between Colorado and Wyoming. Several wealthy investors like Charles Tiffany were interested. 

Arnold and Slack sold the fields for $660,000, today worth over $15 million. 

In the 1930s Selden Rodman founded "Common Sense." It was a leftwing magazine that was supportive of democratic socialism. "Common Sense" pushed for adoption of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

Author Upton Sinclair was a contributing author. Sinclair ran for California governor in 1934. 

Journalist Russell Brines was working for the Associated Press in Manila when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Shortly after, Japan invaded the Philippines.

Brines, his wife and daughter were held at an internment camp in Manila. While there, Brines started a newsletter called Internee News. 

Jean "Babe" London was a silent film comedienne. She acted with Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, and Laurel and Hardy. 

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…"