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Archives on the Air 295: Life in Freemont County – Harry S. Harnsberger Papers

Harry S. Harnsberger arrived in Lander in 1907. He was a young man seeking adventure in the wild west. He wanted to become a cowboy but had to settle for a job as a cook, feeding the oil-field workers at “Tar Springs” during the summer drilling season.

A few Native American boys from what was then the Shoshone reservation befriended him. They tried to teach Harnsberger to ride and rope. But more often than not, he got “busted” from his bronc.

In Lander, Harnsberger frequented the Freemont Hotel. At four stories tall, it was the tallest building in Wyoming. According to Harnsberger, Jerry Sheehan, the owner of the hotel, was an avid poker player. The game was played with twenty-dollar gold coins instead of poker chips. Sheehan sometimes ran out of coins, and so he occasionally bet the hotel itself. He lost and won it back three separate times in various poker games.

Learn more about the early days of Lander and Freemont County in the Harry S. Harnsberger papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.