The Modern West

The Modern West is a rich collection of news and cultural stories from the Mountain West. Catch our monthly digest of stories on The Modern West podcast.

Supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

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The Modern West 52: Gone Fishin'

Jul 16, 2019

Nothing says summer like fishing.

The Modern West 51: Remembering World War II

Jul 2, 2019
MAGGIE MULLEN

A painting brings the attack on Pearl Harbor back to life, recalling the war years in Wyoming, and the story of a dramatic war-time prison break that only surfaced in recent years.  

Lawrence Todd

Archaeologists are in a race against time to document some artifacts found in the Mountain West.

The Modern West 49: Archaeology And Fossils, Part 1

Jun 5, 2019
COURTESY OF DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE

How archaeologists are trying to track down the remaining pieces of a mammoth found in Wyoming.

The Modern West 48: Zarif Khan

May 22, 2019
sheridanmedia.com

Here's the story of an early 20th century Pakistani immigrant who created a life in Wyoming and set the path for others to follow. 

Public Domain

There are few Western issues as controversial as prairie dogs. Some people hate them because they cut down grass livestock need to eat. Others love them because they're a keystone species… creating an ecosystem that attracts dozens of other species. Now the U.S. Forest Service has released a proposed plan for how to manage prairie dogs on the Thunder Basin National Grasslands in eastern Wyoming. That's a place where the species has experienced huge swings in population in recent years. 

Catherine Wheeler

About 30 miles southeast of Sheridan, the Ucross Foundation sits on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch. But that's not what it's known for.

The ranch is home to the Ucross Foundation Residency Program. Foundation president and executive director Sharon Dynak said it's a place for writers and artists to focus on their work. 

The Modern West 47: Back In The Saddle

Apr 30, 2019
Willow Belden

It's horseracing season, but instead of thoroughbreds, meet America's original horse.

Backwards Distilling Facebook page

This might surprise you, but Americans seem to be losing their taste for beer. Even the dizzy growth we've seen in the microbrew industry is slowing down. Craft beer producers are trying to buck this trend, which involves figuring out how to be competitive with each other as well as the newer kid on the block: craft spirits.

The Modern West 46: Critters

Apr 19, 2019
Denali National Park and Preserve

From the mighty moose to the tiny stone fly, scientists are learning more about the animals we live with in Wyoming. Meanwhile, in Idaho, a town is trying to get thousands of crows to move out of the neighborhood.

Catherine Wheeler

The story of 20th century Sheridan immigrant and entrepreneur Zarif Khan resurfaced in the last several years. After a 2016 New Yorker story that detailed Khan's life, University of Iowa jazz studies professor and musician John Rapson was inspired to tell Khan's uniquely American story along with composer Danyel Gaglione. 

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

TOOELE – From behind the wheel of a gray Jeep Wrangler, Rob Hammer scans a high-desert landscape in search of an elusive American icon.

Melodie Edwards

It's freezing outside as Terry Short smokes a cigarette under a hotel's awning near downtown Douglas. He's wearing a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt, his hometown team.

"For the most part it's as nice little sleepy town that you know generally doesn't have a whole lot of chaos," Short said.

Short is an oil field worker for a company called Gunslinger. Today is his day off, but normally he would be out in the field doing inspections or survey work. Short is far from the only worker of his kind in the area. He said folks get a daily per diem from companies to live on. The housing strategies are diverse and often focused on saving. 

Melodie Edwards

This story is part of a two-part series on the effects of the Converse County energy boom on housing in Douglas. 

I knock on the door of an apartment in the one and only income-restricted apartment complex in Douglas. 29-year-old Elise shows me in. Petite with long dark hair and a friendly smile, she gives me a tour of the small apartment she shares with her two children. We're not using her last name to protect her from retaliation. I notice a sign on the living room wall that says, "Home Sweet Home," and for Elise, a home has never been so sweet as this one. About eighteen months ago, Elise left an abusive relationship with her children's father.

Photo courtesy The Brinton Museum

The Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming, is home to a collection of artifacts and objects from many Plains Indian tribes. As it open for the season, the Brinton along with the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies put together an exhibit centered around the Lakota creation story. Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler sat down with Craig Howe, the director of the Center for American Indian Research, to talk about how the story has an impact today.

Catherine Wheeler

Mikayla Patton had no intention of going into what she calls "dirty work" before starting school at Gillette College. She thought maybe she would try criminal justice. But then she got a phone call from her dad. He had worked on oil rigs and in coal mines.

If you kill a wolf in Idaho, your effort might be worth $1,000. 

A nonprofit in North Idaho covers costs for hunters and trappers who successfully harvest wolves. The group, called the Foundation for Wildlife Management pays up to $1,000 per wolf harvest.

 


The Modern West 45: Winning Winter

Mar 26, 2019
Andrew Burr

Men and women skiers might race down the same mountain, but the prize money at the bottom isn’t necessarily the same. Plus, how ice climbing is warming to female climbers and a conversation with the women who made dog sled racing history.

The McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West

If you are a Wild West film fan, then you've probably seen Winchester '73, True Grit and High Noon. Besides being films about the West, all of these films also feature a Winchester Model 1873 rifle. The carbine has widely been credited as being the gun that won the West. Danny Michael, the assistant curator at the Cody Firearms Museum, said the history might be a little iffy on whether the rifle really won the West, but it still may have had an impact.

The Modern West 44: High Country, High Voices

Mar 12, 2019
Opera Wyoming

New York, Milan…Casper? Opera comes to Wyoming.

Smithsonian Channel

On Sunday, March 10, the Smithsonian Channel is premiering a new four-part series focused on Yellowstone National Park. The series was produced by Grizzly Creek Films based in Bozeman, Montana.

Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with Thomas Wilson, the executive producer, and Eric Bendick, a producer and writer for the series, to get a behind the scenes of how wildlife focused series is created. First Bendick answered how the series tries to differentiate from well-known Yellowstone stories.

Melodie Edwards

On a pond in a top-secret spot on the Laramie plains, I take my first steps out onto the ice behind Fisherman Larry Fioanini. He tells me to walk right behind him, pointing out some open water in the middle where a spring percolates, keeping it from freezing.

Denali National Park and Preserve

In wide open spaces like the rural parts of the Mountain West, there's sometimes little known about the secret lives of plants and animals. There are too many square miles and too few scientists. That's where citizen scientists can come to the rescue.

Catherine Wheeler

The American West has inspired countless artists. But that holds especially true for one prominent artist from the region. Gabe Leonard is a Gillette native who calls himself the "Cinematic Artist."

Eric Krszjzaniek

What do you get when you put together a horse, a pair of skis, and two daredevils? It's an old sport that's being revived across our region.

Catherine Wheeler

The winter in Northeastern Wyoming isn't exactly known for attracting large amounts of tourists. But that's where Shawn Parker, the executive director for Sheridan Travel and Tourism, saw an opportunity.

The closest that Travis Rupp came to getting fired, he says, was the time he tried to make chicha. The recipe for the Peruvian corn-based beer, cobbled together from bits of pre-Incan archaeological evidence, called for chewed corn partially fermented in spit. So, Rupp’s first task had been to convince his colleagues to gather round a bucket and offer up their chompers for the cause.

The Modern West 43: Slippery Slope

Feb 22, 2019
KAMILA KUDELSKA

Ski season is upon us as the sport faces major changes: how climate change is affecting ski resorts and whether downhill skiing is turning into a sport reserved for the wealthy.

Kamila Kudelska

It's a windy and freezing afternoon in Cody. A bunch of women are gathered around a table at the Chamberlin Inn in Cody, chatting about the dynamic of their relationships.

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