Wyoming rush hour

 


For years, the giant billboard showing cars working their way down a street through a Wyoming cattle drive was stationed on the busiest highway in New York City. It was figured that this image was seen by millions of frustrated and stranded city-dwellers stuck in stalled traffic.

Caption on the billboard read: “Rush Hour in Wyoming.”

I was on the travel commission back in the 1990s when our brilliant director Gene Bryan came up with that idea.

That image, which was snapped by the late Lander photographer Mike McClure of the annual cattle drive down our local Main Street, came to mind during the funeral services last week of another Lander pioneer photographer Ted Carlson.

As the local newspaper guy, I could never quite get a photo as good as Mike’s. One day 30 years ago, I asked Ted if he had such a shot. He went through his negatives and found an even better one. He printed it up and sold more than 1,000 versions of it as a poster with the caption “Traffic Jam in Wyoming.”


I always appreciated him giving me the credit for causing him to create that poster even though my motives were more selfish then helping him create a classic. His photo was actually a better picture than McClure’s showing most of Lander’s Main Street and the Wind River Mountains in the background.

This column is about Wyoming photographers who have done such a wonderful service to our state by snapping countless photos of not just people getting married but every single event that could have happened in a city or town.

Carlson, who died in his 80s this spring, was a member of that fraternity. Not only did they shoot the formal photos but they also loaded up their gear and trudged a long the rivers, up the mountains or out in the deserts to snap memorable photos of our state since its beginning.

Famous names of deceased Wyoming photographers include J. E. Stimson, Cheyenne; Charles Belden, Meeteetse; Jack Richard, Cody; Frank Meyers, Rawlins; Doc Ludwig and Henning Svenson, Laramie;

Tamaki Nakako, Rock Springs; Richard Throssel, Sheridan; S.N. Leek, Jackson; Tom Carrigen, Casper;

Rico Stine, Worland; and lots and lots more, too numerous to mention in this short tribute. Historian

Phil Roberts, Laramie, gave me assistance to coming up with this list.

Someday, I would like to do a historical book featuring a lot of these photos much like the contemporary books that I have been doing lately featuring all images of Wyoming.

For all the obvious reasons, I have a soft spot in my heart for photographers.

With my second coffee table book coming up for sale this fall, I can anticipate the most often asked questions:

How come these photos are so great? I have never seen such wonderful photos. How do they do it?

There are more than 4,000 high-quality color slides that I have taken in Wyoming over the past 44 years. When these book projects started it was assumed much of the content would be my great photos from my personal archives.

Alas, not so. The new digital cameras are so amazing they simply blow away most of my old images done on film.

Most of the photos in my books are digital images. And my poor slides? Regrettably for me, we are constantly pulling out my photos and replacing them with wonderful digital images by one of some 50 photographers that have participated in these projects.


Today’s photogs work just as hard as us old-time guys but the new equipment takes the image to a level that we could only imagine a few years ago.

Back to my friend Ted Carlson. He had a great sense of humor. He made two other famous posters.

One was what he called “Wyoming wind gauge,” which showed a heavy chain seemingly blowing in the wind.

The other was an image of four young Wyoming rodeo gals wearing boots, hats, vests and chaps and little else. Taken from the rear, you could not tell who these gals were. I think this image was either the inspiration for a famous painting in the bar at the Holiday Inn in Cody or that painting was the inspiration for his photo.

Carlson would never tell me who the gals were and they are all probably grandmothers today.

Done tastefully, it was more funny than provocative. And it sold a lot of copies!

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at http://www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders,” which is available at http://www.wyomingwonders.com.

 

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